The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: Dirtbag’s Golden Glove. We will never get tired of watching Evan Longoria play defense. Yesterday it was a diving stop on a groundball followed by a perfect throw to second from his knees to start an inning-ending double play.

THE BAD: No-Hittability. The Rays didn’t get a hit until the 6th inning off a guy that came into the game with an ERA north of 6.00. What do you think the over/under should be on number of games this year in which the Rays fail to get a hit in the first 5 innings? We’ll go with 7.5…Too Much Flexibility. We love the Rays defensive flexibility. And we love that Joe Maddon maximizes that flexibility. But we do wonder if maybe the team is too flexible at times. For example, Willy Aybar is what, the 4th string second baseman? So when Aybar is playing second base in the 8th inning of a one-run game, we wonder exactly how Joe Maddon ended up there.

THE TELLING: The Rays have lost 6 of their last 8…Jason Bartlett is expected to return to the lineup on Friday…Kelly Shoppach began his rehab assignment and went 1-3 with 2 strikeouts for Durham…According to PECOTA, the Rays have a 91.4% chance of making the playoffs.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 34-18, 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the East and 3.5 ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 52 games in 2008, the Rays were 31-21.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • From Marc Topkin: Matt Joyce was activated from the DL and optioned to Durham where he will play for the foreseeable future….Tonight’s leadoff hitter “could be a surprise” (our guess is Evan Longoria)…Jeremy Hellickson won his second IL pitcher of the week award. [St. Pete Times]
  • Evan Longoria on batting 3rd: “I do feel most comfortable there, and I’ve told Joe that…I feel a little more comfortable there, and I like hitting in the first inning; that’s the biggest thing.”
  • Dioner Navarro on his job future: “I can’t control that… I can only control what I can do. I know the starters like to throw the ball to me.” [Tampa Tribune]
  • Matt Garza talks about yesterday’s performance (video). [The Heater]
  • The Rays are still on top of Phil Rogers’ power rankings. [Chicago Tribune]
  • Wow. Pittsburgh fans are coming down hard on Aki Iwamura. So hard, they are now writing songs about Aki. Not very flattering songs. [93.7 FM]
  • If you ever wanted to hear/see Aubrey Huff singing, well, don’t say we never did anything for ya. [Video]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Heath Phillips allowed just 1 run in 5.2 innings, striking out 2 and walking 1…Desmond Jennings batted 7th and went 3-4 with a double…Kelly Shoppach was 1-3 with a pair of RBI and 2 strikeouts.
  • MONTGOMERY: Alex Torres started and was pulled after just 2.2 innings without allowing a run. He struck out 4 and walked 2…Chris Nowak hit his 3rd and 4th home runs of the year, driving in 5.
  • CHARLOTTE: (no game scheduled)
  • BOWLING GREEN: Wilking Rodriguez allowed 4 runs in 5 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 6…Kyle Spraker hit his first home run of the year and drove in 3.

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22 Comments

  1. MikeD says:

    Were the Rays perhaps prey to the curse of the Fancy Hats again yesterday? Not panicking by any means, but 2.5 games up on the Yanks just doesn’t look good.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t know how to document this, but I could swear the team has played badly whenever there are stupid, holiday-based uniform or equipment gimmicks. I certainly hope that next year, on mother’s day, they say “no” to the pink bats.

  2. Sarah says:

    The only “good” I can say about going nearly 6 innings hitless against a mediocre pitcher is….I was so relieved when they got a hit that I stopped worrying about whether they’d get the win. I guess the Rays hitters have set a pretty low bar when fans are thinking “just don’t let it be another perfect game, please!”

  3. Brixology says:

    Alright, baseball people. Considering how anemic the offense has been, why was Jaso not bunting with Evan on 3rd? I wanted them to play for the tie and take their chances from there on out.

  4. ramedy says:

    Morrow came into the game with a 6.66 ERA – I believe this was the Devil getting revenge for the Rays taking him out of the picture.

    But seriously, my brain started to melt when I saw the Rodriguez/Aybar middle infield. That was odd.

  5. You have to give it to Willy… he did flash the Glove!

    I will say the Rays have been getting a bit unluckly lately and that’s contributing to the lack of offense. Pena drove one to deep center field that was pretty close last night. Jays defense also made some good plays here and there. It’s almost like the Rays luck earlier in the season is evening out.

    Also, I think pitchers are making adjustments to what the Rays were doing earlier in the season. Now, it’s up to the Rays hitters to make their adjustment and get things moving…

    I will say this… I’d much rather have this downspell now than in September or October. I think this team will learn from this and move on to bigger and better things.

    • Sarah says:

      Luck obviously does play a role throughout a baseball game — it is, after all, a game of inches.

      But I don’t like calling balls caught on the warning track “bad luck”. I think a home run robbed by an outfielder is, for the hitter, bad luck. Hitting to the warning track, however, is simply “not hitting hard enough.”

  6. Mike says:

    I am hoping to see Bossman back in the leadoff spot. He has been swinging better recently and maybe a move up the lineup will give him the confidence boost he needs to get back to being the real Bossman Junior we all remember from 2007.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I too wouldn’t mind giving Bossman another crack at the top of the lineup, and he was my first guess for JoeMa’s “surprise.” but I guess I just thought that move wouldn’t be that surprising since we know how much Maddon loves Upton at leadoff. But maybe JoeMa thinks it would be surprising

      • John says:

        Pena for leadoff!

      • Erik Lurz says:

        You might be VERY unhappy about the surprise. Checked up on stats vs. Brian Tallet, *LHP*, small sample but Gabe Kapler 3 for 7, uh-oh.

        Upton is 4 for 9 so that would be my second guess. Maddon said in that St. Pete Times article you love so much he likes high OBP guys hitting in front of Longo and Pena, so I doubt Longo will be leading off. How about this game of baseball? A week ago I was reading people wanting to send Upton down for Joyce (obvi not realistic or knowledgeable people, but still) now I’m reading thumbs up for him hitting leadoff. I would not want to be Carlos Pena right now, the hitting slump in baseball has got to be one of the most brutal (non-injury) things to endure in sports.

        • Erik Lurz says:

          1. Kapler – RF 2. Crawford – LF 3. Longoria – 3B 4. Zobrist – 2B 5. Blalock – 1B 6. Aybar – DH 7. Upton – CF 8. Navarro – C 9. Rodriguez – SS……..Bold prediction for Maddon’s “surprise” lineup. Surprise meaning “crap” – not his fault, though, Jaso needs a day off and Bartlett is injured, once Shoppach and JB come back vomit worthy lineup cards like this won’t be written out (could be wrong about some of it but upon further consideration I think Kapler is DEFINITELY leading off with Navarro 8 and Rodriguez – formerly known as “Rodzilla” – at 9).

    • Alex says:

      So we can watch him strike out looking a 3 fastballs down the middle. Swinging at the last one and looking at the first two four times in the game.

  7. Alex says:

    I’m glad Kapler ph in the 8th. He gave a very useful ab by striking out. Then he came up in the 9th as the final batter. Nicely done Joe. Why do we even keep Kapler around? He’s hitting under .250 against lefties. Oh wait Maddon’s our manager. That means he’ll stick with him till Aug or Sept when he finally starts hitting lefties and Maddon will say something akin to “See I told ya’ll he would come around. Now just let me do my job guys.”

  8. Erik Lurz says:

    There I go saying I’m sure again and being wrong in every way. A number of things cross my mind about this lineup…why is Zobrist (5 for 11 against Tallet) hitting 6th behind Pena (2 for 13) and Aybar (1 for 5), why is Kapler hitting 7th (.239 avg) and Brignac 9th (.306 avg), but you gotta love Maddon for always surprising. I try every day to predict his lineup, I’m wrong almost every time. And whenever I seem to go huh? is when they actually hit. At the very least we have an entertaining manager, pre-game and in-game. Who else uses 5 infielders and uses a shift on the right side?

  9. Matt says:

    The pirates fans need to chill with Aki. He’s not the only thing wrong with the team

    • Sarah says:

      True, but I guess he’s sort of their Pat Burrell — relatively expensive free agent on a low budget team.

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