The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.
THE GOOD: Maddonology. For the second straight night, Joe Maddon walked Miguel Cabrera with runners on 1st and 2nd to put the tying run on third base. And once again, Grant Balfour came up huge. This time inducing a flyball to end the inning…Offensive Rebound. Still a little shaky, but every Rays hitter that came to the plate got at least one hit. Evan Longoria led the way with 3 hits, including a 2-run home run in the 8th that gave the Rays a little breathing room…Carlos Pena. In the 1st, the Tigers shifted against Pena allowing the runner on second to take third unchallenged. But in 3rd inning, with Carl Crawford on second, the Tigers did not shift against Pena and he delivered a basehit between first and second to score Crawford.
THE BAD: Abusing Soriano? After 42 pitches the past 2 nights, it is hard to believe he will be available for the noon start today. Which of course raises the question of whether Joe Maddon could have used somebody else in the 9th with a 3-run lead…Emo Squeeze Fail. Joe Maddon’s “safety squeeze” is not your typical safety squeeze and it bit the Rays in the ass last night. Willy Aybar was thrown out at home on Jason Bartlett’s squeeze attempt. JoeMa loves overly aggressive baserunning and last night it cost the Rays.
THE TELLING: Ben Zobrist was removed from the game with a lower back strain (apparently from carrying Gabe Kapler all season) and will not play today…BJ Upton hopes to return Friday. Joe Maddon says Saturday or Sunday but that he could pinch-hit before then…The Rays at 62-38 are 24 games above .500. Even if they only play .500 the rest of the way, they will finish 93-69. If they go 33-29, they will finish 95-67. In the Wild Card ERA, no AL team has ever won 95 games and failed to make the playoffs…Evan Longoria’s single in the 4th snapped an 0-19 skid…Rafael Soriano’s 28th save is a career-high…Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for each of this weekend’s games against the Yankees.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 62-38, 2 games behind the Yankees and 5 games ahead of the Red Sox. After 100 games in 2008, the Rays were 59-41.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria have a laugh about Longo robbing CC of his 400th stolen base, twice (Video). [Bright House Sports]
- Ben Zobrist discusses his back injury (Video). [Tampa Tribune]
- Jon Heyman says the Rays are still a possibility to land Adam Dunn. Obviously Matt Garza was a ridiculous request, but what about Wade Davis? Keep in mind that Dunn will fetch 2 draft picks after the season. [Twitter]
- However, Joel Sherman says the Rays are concerned about Adam Dunn’s potential transition to DH. [Twitter]
- Desmond Jennings has switched agents to Scott Boras. This of course means, that there is little chance Jennings will sign a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent in 6 or 7 years. [MLB Trade Rumors]
- No more stadium negotiations until after the season. [St. Pete Times]
- David Price looks back and feels the Rays decision to delay his ’09 debut is paying dividends this season. [Baseball Prospectus]
- The 2011 season will start on Friday…Fack the heck? [Big League Stew]
- According to Forbes, The Trop is not the worst stadium in baseball. Of course, #30 (Dolphin Stadium) will be replaced in 2012. [Forbes]
- So is the Trop Stuart Sternberg’s version of Pensacola beaches? [Shadow of the Stadium]
- Gary Shelton wonders if David Price can reach 20 wins. [St. Pete Times]
- Seth McClung is now coaching girls basketball. [Rays Rev]
- Are Bucs games going to be blacked out in your area? [Joe Bucs Fan]
- Military Fail: An Army vet who wasn’t pleased with the performance of the Marines in recent wars, tried to steal a Marines flag outside the Trop. Only one problem, it wasn’t a Marines flag. It was the Florida state flag. And no, they do not look anything alike. [St. Pete Times]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Check out Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
- DURHAM: Brian Baker, filling in for the injured Carlos Hernandez, struck out 6 and held Lehigh Valley to 2 runs in 5 innings. Both runs came off solo home runs…Dan Johnson was 2-3 and is now hitting .306…Desmond Jennings (2006-10) was 0-5 with 2 strikeouts. He is now hitting .278.
- MONTGOMERY: (no game scheduled)
- CHARLOTTE: (no game scheduled)
- BOWLING GREEN: Kyle Lobstein (2008-2) gave up 3 runs in 7 innings on 6 hits and no walks. He struck out 5. The big blow was a 2-run home run in the 3rd…Cody Rogers (2009-7) was 1-5 with a double.
- HUDSON VALLEY: Wilmer Almonte picked up his first win with 9 strikeouts in 5 innings. He gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks…Burt Reynolds went 4-5 with a double and 3 RBI.
- PRINCETON: Jacob Partridge (2009-18) improved to 4-2 after 5 shutout innings. He gave up 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 1…Ruben Contreras was 3-5 with a double and drove in 3.