Mourn the loss of Cliff Lee? Or mourn the continued decline of James Shields?

Joe’s wearing black tonight.

Shields came into Friday night’s game against Cleveland at the FruitDome and made his now trademark longball mistakes, got unacceptably rattled by a balk call and continued his march toward a five-run ERA.

Andy Sonnanstine returned to his 2009 form, and the Tribe walked out with a 9-3 laugher.

Shuffle away on that rotation, Merlot Joe.

About the only enjoyment Joe can take away from this game is home plate umpire Jim Reynolds failing in his bid to go home early. After opening the strike zone wider than Nolan Ryan’s grin tonight to kill the Rays rally in the seventh, the Tribe followed with a four-run eighth.

Could B.J. Upton throw out a turtle at home plate?

The Rays left 18 runners on base.

There’s always tomorrow.

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29 Comments

  1. Greg says:

    When are we going to get rid of "big game" since he can't win any game, much less one against a worthy opponent??? I'm sick of this guy, trade him and bring Hellickson up!!!

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Personally, I have never been a fan of that nickname. And I think there is a chance you will get your wish on a trade. But it probably doesn't happen until the off-season.

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  2. Preston says:

    Reading this makes me glad I missed the game tonight.

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  3. Eric S says:

    Right now I only feel comfortable in the starts by Price and Niemann. James Shields should not be the #1 starter. Right now he should be the #4 starter. Hopefully Joe does shuffle the rotation after the break. Garza is maddeningly inconsistent. The guy still goes through stretches where he loses his focus on the mound. Take the Boston start for instance. He gives up a HR to Patterson and then just loses it out there to make a 1 run inning into a 4 run inning. He's lucky the offense bailed him out.

    Wade Davis now is alternating good starts with crappy starts. I really look forward to the arrival of Jeremy Hellickson. I have him bookmarked on the minor league site and check in after every start. He's going to be a good one. I like that he has good control down there. If you are wild in the minors, you are usually wild in the majors.

    This is how I want the rotation set up for in the second half.
    Niemann, Price, Garza, Shields, Davis. But since Price will be pitching in the All Star game, lets have it like Niemann, Garza, Price, Shields, Davis.

    I really hope the Rays get another bat in a trade. They can't give up Hellickson or Jennings though. But Aybar should never be the cleanup hitter for this team. Hopefully they can get Dunn or Berkman. Those guys can DH or play 1B. Both can hit HRs. Dunn strikes out more, but he has more power. They both can take a walk which would be good for this team.

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    • Before you get all excited about Hellickson's turn in the rotation just think back to King David's 2009 season.

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      • Eric S says:

        I do believe Hellickson would be better than Davis right now. I don't expect him to be a lights out starter. Just better than Davis.

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      • John S says:

        Michael that is not clear irresponsible comparison made by you.

        Sorry actually its dumb.

        Price pitched 1 season in the minors actually he didn't even do that.
        He was what.. 21 or 22?

        Hellickson has been in the system for years and is 25 years old.

        He is much much much more mature. Every scout asked when asking why he is sooo good is because he has by far the best mound presence in the minors.

        Price struggled to throw strikes. Hellboy is a control freak. Price had 2 plus pitches. Hellboy has 3 plus and a 4th that he started developing last year, the cutter.
        Price got thrown in there with 2 pitches and that will not get you far being a starting pitcher. He has now developed an average change-up and a plus curveball. Price had to learn on the go, while Hellboy has been fine tuning for 2 years.

        If you want to temper expectations that is fine. But a comparison between Price and Hellboy and their initial call-ups is irresponsible. What is unfortunate is that the area around here are not knowledgable fans because they would have realized that Price was not ready to make the transition from reliever to starter with 2 pitches (fastball and slider), it does not work like that in the real world.

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        • John S says:

          Jesus I can not write...

          Michael that is an irresponsible comparison.

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          • Sarah says:

            John, you make good points but I think you are a little hard on Michael. I don't think he was trying to make a point by point comparison between Price and Hellickson; rather he was cautioning that not every Triple A prospect steps onto a major league field and shines. Too often we fans are quick to write off the struggling players we see before us in favor of the shiny new guys doing so well in Durham. More often then not, the new guys have a substantial learning curve before they become effective players in the majors.

            That's not an irresponsible observation at all.

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        • Eric S says:

          Agree with your other stuff, but Jeremy is actually 23.

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    • DRR says:

      Rays should trade Jennings. He is too injury-prone to have a long-term productive big league career. There are days in the field in which he looks scared of getting hurt (to me, at least). His value is high now, and it would be smart to get the most they can for him.

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  4. As long as the Yankees didn't get him, nothing else really matters. As hard to believe as it is, if the Rays play the Rangers in the playoffs, the Rangers will be the inexperienced, nervous ones. The Rays should be the favorite in any series unless possibly NY.

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    • Amanda says:

      I'm with you ... I'm not terribly upset with not getting Lee as the Yankees or Red Sox didn't pick him up, or the Twins, to tell you the truth. The Rangers will win their division, so it's not going to a direct competetor to a Wild Card spot.

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  5. One more thing... the pitching inconsistency started around the time Jaso started getting some serious playing time. I still think Jaso is learning on the job and the pitching problems are symptom. Think about it, if you don't quite trust the guy behind the plate... it could change your approach.

    Now, with that being said, I think Jaso's improving by leaps and bounds. This could be just growing pains on the way to a solid battery for the stretch run.

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    • Don says:

      Your right...Shields stinks because Jaso is ! Makes sense to me, not that Shields is on the downslide and not long for the majors!

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    • Stephanie says:

      I have been wondering about that too. I'm not ready to blame Jaso for Shields and Garza's suckiness, but the coaches should at least be thinking about such things.

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      • I think they have. He expressed some concern about Jaso being "mentally ready" to catch everyday when they were carrying 3 catchers.

        From my unscientific observations, the pitchers are looking a little more comfortable with Jaso right now. There problems pop up when they start getting into trouble.

        The good news is that this is something that will correct itself over the season.

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        • Jim says:

          I agree with both of your points, Michael. I don't think Jaso called as good of a game as the other catchers and I think it did hurt the staff a bit, but I think he has improved and so has the pitching.

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  6. Beth says:

    As much as it pains me to acknowledge any of Don's semi-literate, borderline offensive postings, I would like to point out that Andy Sonnanstine is not Jewish.

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    • JoeRaysFan says:

      Don, sorry that Robert Byrd isn't around for you to worship anymore. I'm sorry for your loss.

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    • Beth says:

      What dictionary would that be? And was it published in 1933 by the National Socialist Press?

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  7. JoeRaysFan says:

    Can't hang Shields and other stuff on Jaso. Didn't they just win six in a row behind some strong pitching? Kevin Kennedy can quibble all he wants, but that doesn't mean its right. Not to discount the value of a catcher, but Shields getting balls up and Garza not having movement on his stuff isn't coming from behind the plate.

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    • I'm not saying it's all of Jaso's fault. What I'm saying is that some of the pitching inconsistency could be from the rookie catcher behind the plate. Lack of command and control can definitely be a sign of lack of trust between a starting pitcher and his catcher.

      You point to the 6 games they just won in a row... I point to the pitching prior to Jaso becoming the starting catcher and this:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=p&team=TBR&year=2010#catch

      Do I think the Rays should bring back Navi before the rosters are expanded? Absolutely not. I think that the Rays have made the wise decision to deal with Jaso's rookie growing pains in order to keep his bat in the lineup. But, to be honest, I think it was a pretty close call for them.

      I also think the trust between Jaso and the starters will grow as the season progresses. I expect the pitching to improve in the 2nd half.

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    • Oh yeah. David Price is Jaso-proof. His stuff is just too good.

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  8. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    Why can't Maddon just shut his mouth. Like they all say "Be careful what you wish for." If the season ended today, the Rays will play Cliff Lee and the Rangers as the Yankees play the Tigers. I am glad to see Lee not in a Yankees uniform but at the same time Maddon should be focusing on playing consistent baseball on a regular basis.

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  9. Justin says:

    Don: you're a anti-semite.

    Prof, do you approve of this sort of posting on your site?

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  10. Preston says:

    What's up with the sudden trolling?

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  11. Don says:

    Gee I'm sorry...I meant to say Byrd was a good basketball player...and Kaplar and Sorrenstine are good baseball players!

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