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: Back on Top. Even if the Rays don’t win the East, they are probably still going to make the playoffs. But winning the division means the Rays could face the Central winner (Twins or White Sox) instead of the Rangers. The danger of facing the Rangers is having to deal with Cliff Lee 2 times in a 5-game series…BJ Upton. After the Twinkies had tied the game in the top-half of the 7th, Bossman delivered the big blow, a 3-run home run. He has struggled this season with fastballs from righties, and that is exactly what he got. But he unleashed his classic (for him) free-and-easy swing and launched a no-doubter…Jeff Niemann. It was not The Giraffe at his best. He gave up 8 hits and 2 walks (1 intentional). And in 5 of the 7 innings he allowed the leadoff batter to reach base. But he was able to work around a number of jams including a bases-loaded 1-out situation in the 5th to pick up his 10th win…Sean Rodriguez. Not only did he hit his own 3-run home run, but he also drew 2 walks. He only had 24 walks in 151 career games prior to last night.

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano. He ultimately closed the door on the Twins, but not before he gave up 3 basreunners and an unearned run. MFIKY looks like he in a bit of a funk right now. Let’s hope he straightens things out soon…A Rare Sight. With the Rays nursing a 1-run lead in the 5th and BJ Upton on first base, Carl Crawford hit an inning-ending double-play. There was a time earlier in his career when CC actually hit into a lot of double-plays (39 GIDPs from ’05-’08) but that was just his 2nd GIDP this season.

THE TELLING: If the Rays go 28-28 in their final 56 games, they will finish with 95 wins. No AL team in the Wild Card failed to make the playoffs with 95 wins…Ben Zobrist was available to pinch-hit but did not make an appearance. He could return to the starting lineup tonight…Carlos Pena hopes to return to the lineup this weekend. He has a slight tear in a ligament in his foot…The Rays now have 4 pitchers with 10 wins.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 67-39, 1 game ahead of the Yankees in the East and 6.5 games ahead of the Red Sox in the Wild Card. After 106 games in 2008, the Rays were 62-44.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • BJ Upton discusses his home run (Video). [The Heater]
  • JB Long has notes from last night’s game, add a video of Jeff Niemann speaking about his performance. [Bright House Sports]
  • Joe Maddon explains why Jeremy Hellickson can’t be used in the bullpen right now…Also, Marc Topkin reports that the Rays are tentatively set to open the 2011 season at home against the Orioles. [St. Pete Times]
  • Dan Johnson feels as though he is a completely different player now after having spent a year in Japan. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Buster Olney took a closer look at Jeremy Hellickson’s debut. [ESPN Insider]
  • Here is a list of other pitchers with debuts as good as Jeremy Hellickson in recent year. [Baseball-Reference Blog]
  • Readers in Des Moines, Iowa recollect having faced Jeremy Hellickson before he was drafted. The story includes a picture gallery. [Des Moines Register]
  • The Governor of Iowa issued a statement congratulating Jeremy Hellickson. [Des Moines Register]
  • Matt Garza was mic’d up for Monday’s game (Video)...Personally, we would just prefer they mic up David Price every game. [FS Florida]
  • Former Bucs DE Steve White has some choice words for a pair of current Bucs. [Joe Bucs Fan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Without a starter available, the Bulls gave 4 relievers 2 innings each…Elliot Johnson went 2-4 with his 8th home run. He drove in 2 and is hitting .308…Desmond Jennings (2006-10) was 1-4 and is hitting .279.
  • MONTGOMERY: Jake McGee (2004-5) only struck out 3, but he held Tennessee scoreless for 5.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 walk…Leslie Anderson and Henry Wrigley (2005-14) were each 0-4 with 2 strikeouts.
  • CHARLOTTE: Matt Moore (2007-8) dropped with 4-10 with a 4.07 ERA after giving up 2 runs in 4 innings on 5 hits and a walk. He struck out 4…Rocco Baldelli (2000-1) DH’d and went 0-2 before being pulled in the 6th…Tim Beckham (2008-1) was 0-4 with a strikeout.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Albert Suarez lasted just 2.2 innings giving up 5 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks…Kyle Spraker (2009-34) hit a 3-run home run, his 3rd home run of the year.
  • HUDSON VALLEY: Jake Thompson (2010-2) pitched 5 shutout innings, striking out 3 and walking none. In 26 innings, he has allowed just 1 earned run, striking out 22 and walking just 4…Burt Reynolds hit his first home run of the year.
  • PRINCETON: Enny Romero struck out 6 and walked 1 in 6 innings…Bryan Fogle (2010-32) was 2-4 with his 3rd home run.
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16 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Winning the AL east gives the Rays a tremendous "PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVANTAGE" over the Yankees..
    The Yankees will not be the TEAM to beat..the Rays will be...Big difference!
    Lots of so-called experts (mostly from Atlanta) said Soriano would do just fine with the Rays as long as they did not "over use" him...his stamina being the question...
    Wonder if signs are showing NOW....Benoit for a closer for a week or so???....Det & Balt. next week...Why not?

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    • Matt says:

      Surprisingly, I agree with you Don. Soriano definitely has been slightly shaky. Although, his rough patches last night could've been prevented if Pena was at first because there were several times when Johnson missed it and Pena wouldve had it. Another choice is Qualls. I know his stats did suck as a closer this year but last year they were okay.

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      • brian h says:

        I dont agree with Don at all as usual. Its a classic overreaction which don tends to do. Soriano has 43 ip. Its the lowest of all the closers in the top 10 in saves. Its a long season, I mean its impossible to keep the pace he had. He will rain it back in.

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        • MJ says:

          Even though is inn total is relatively low, you still have to look at what point in time the innings are pitched. He has pitched in 10 of the last 13 games we played in (could've been 11 if JoeMa didn't rest he and Benoit). While i know he only pitches one inning at a time, 10 of the last 13 is a serious workload on a the high-leverage arm of a closer, especially one that has a history of arm trouble. No reason not to consider resting him.

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          • cubfanraysaddict says:

            Or why not let Benoit pitch two innings, he has clearly been lights out, and even a week ago when he didn't have his best stuff he showed he could get guys out. I would definitely like to see Benoit get some save opportunities down the stretch, if to do nothing more than make sure he attains type B status (he is worth offering arb to IMHO and a borderline type B FA now).

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  2. Beth says:

    My recollection is that Soriano started out the season in much this fashion -- didn't blow a save, but many saves were a bit more of an adventure than they needed to be. He then got into a very successful groove which he kept going until the All Star break. It's been since the break that he's looked less dominant. You could say he's been overworked lately (when was the last blow-out the Rays have been in?) but that wouldn't explain why he came back from the All Star break looking shaky.

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  3. John S says:

    So that Jake Thompson draft pick was a good one

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  4. Leighroy says:

    Yes!!! We have a prospect named Burt Reynolds!!! I hope he has a sweet stash!

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  5. Kelley says:

    I must admit my excitement about being back in 1st place was tempered by Soriano's shakiness.
    We need some blow out games to give Soriano some rest because my husband has been noticing how Soriano's not throwing as fast as he used to, so the tiredness and over-use must be an issue for him.

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    • Beth says:

      Their starting pitchers have been too good for them to be on the losing end of a blow out (knock on wood), but their hitting is too weak for them to be on the winning end of a blow out. So you end up needing your closer every day.

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      • Alex says:

        You don't need to use your closer every time you have a 3 run lead and the 8-9-1 hitters coming up.

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  6. Frode says:

    "Joe Maddon explains why Jeremy Hellickson can’t Read the rest of this entry"

    LOL

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  7. Pendulously says:

    So say the Rays lose the next two, and the Yanks win. Is the professor predicting another stadium-related press conference?

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  8. Alex says:

    He is overusing Soriano. There was absolutely no reason to use him last night. Who cares if its a "save" situation? We had a three run lead and he easily could of had the day off

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