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: Carlos Pena. This offense is different just when Carlos Pena is in it, whether or not he is hitting. He is that threatening presence that nobody else provides. But the Rays offense can be scary-good when Pena is clicking. And you know The Crime Cat is clicking when he is smacking oppo-field blasts like his 3-run home run Monday night…Wade Davis. Big Dub is now 5-0 in 6 starts since the All-Star break. And for just the third time this season he worked into the 8th inning, giving up just 2 runs in 7.2 innings…Chad Qualls. With the tying runners on and 2 outs in the 8th, Qualls came in to face Jose Bautista and his 42 home runs. Qualls got him to strike out swinging on a slider to end the Jays last threat.

THE BAD: Attendance. We hate pointing it out, but 11,968 last night was just the third time this season the Rays failed to crack 12,000. That’s not good…Official Scoring. Anybody else think that Carl Crawford was going to beat out that slow roller in the 3rd inning anyway? We thought it should have been a single, not an error. Nitpicking, but still…Randy Choate. You are absolutely right. It is not fair to put Choate in “The Bad” when he came in and retired both batters he faced. But c’mon, admit it. You were a little nervous with Choate in the game, even with a 4-run lead in the 9th. And that is not good. Jake McGee and/or RJ Swindle can’t get here fast enough.

THE TELLING: The Rays and Yankees have now been tied atop the East for 7 straight days and 12 days in August…The Rays magic number is now 25 with 31 to go…Matt Moore was named the FSL pitcher of the week…Alex Torres was named the Southern League pitcher of the week.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are now 81-50, tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East and 7 games ahead of the Red Sox in the Wild Card. After 131 games in 2008, the Rays were 80-51.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Wade Davis talks about last night’s effort. [The Heater]
  • Did the Red Sox block the Rays from picking up catcher Mike Napoli from the Angels? [NESN]
  • Noah Pransky feels the ugly situation brewing around the Marlins new stadium does not bode well for the Rays hopes of landing a new stadium. [Shadow of the Stadium]
  • Those in Boston are starting to realize what we declared yesterday. That the Red Sox are roadkill. [ESPN Boston]
  • While we get queasy with Randy Choate in the game, Joe Maddon sings him praises. [St. Pete Times]
  • Here is a look at the Durham Bulls’ FIPs by pitcher. [Watching Durham Bulls Baseball]
  • Reports of Ronde Barber’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. [Joe Bucs Fan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Ramon Ortiz made his 3rd start for the Bulls, striking out 6 and walking just 1 in 5 innings. He did give up 7 hits and 3 runs…Brian Shouse continues to struggle, this time giving up 3 runs despite recording just 2 outs. He has allowed 9 runs in 9 innings with Durham…Justin Ruggiano hit his 14th home run…Rocco Baldelli (2000-1) went 0-4 with 2 Ks…Desmond Jennings (2006-10) was 1-4.
  • MONTGOMERY: (no game scheduled)
  • CHARLOTTE: Grant Balfour worked 1 scoreless inning in his second rehab appearance…Brad Hawpe was 1-2 with 2 walks…Tim Beckham (2008-1) went 0-4 with a strikeout. He is hitting .255.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Ken Kelly held Fort Wayne to just 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings. He struck out 2…Mark Thomas (2006-22) went 2-4 with a double and 2 RBI.
  • HUDSON VALLEY: Miguel Sierra gave up 3 runs in 6 innings…Elias Otero went 4-7 in the 14-inning affair including his 1st home run.
  • PRINCETON: Eliazer Suero dropped to 1-6 after giving up 6 runs in 2.2 innings…Gerardo Olivares hit his 2nd home run, accounting for both of the P-Rays runs.

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24 Comments

  1. Thad says:

    Yeah, I was worried abt attendance for this series and knew nat’l media would pounce. It was the first thing mentioned by BSPN. What’s unfortunate is that there were LOTS of empty seats all over MLB last night. Even in all the playoff contending cities like ATL, CIN, SF, etc. It happens everywhere this time of year but because of Rays low season ticket base it shows up in official attendance whereas it’s masked in other cities with higher presold season tixx.

    Don’t get me wrong sub 12,000 is pretty bad (see: location and ballpark) but it’s not as bad as media makes it out to be and not THAT much diff than in-school, weeknight phenomenon happening in many other MLB cities this time of year.

  2. Sarah says:

    I normally resist throwing fuel onto the tired “St. Pete vs. Tampa” stadium debate. BUT permit me one observation — it’s those weeknights during the school year that you count on the folks who live close to the stadium to fill in those seats. Few of us who live 45 minute drives from the Trop can manage a weeknight game when we’ve got to be up the next day at 5:30 (although if I could have foreseen that the game would be over at 9:20 I might have behaved differently!)

    And speaking of a short, efficient game: Did anyone think we’d ever hear the words “Wade Davis” and “8th inning” in the same sentence?

  3. Tom says:

    Anyone else notice CC not hustling out of the box on his double in the 1st inning?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Dammit. I meant to go back and watch that replay. For the life of me I was trying to figure out how that wasn’t a triple.

      • Gus says:

        Carl would have hustled if there were 25,000 in the stands. Carl has been here for 8 years. He should know that the Rays don’t draw on Monday nights, pennant race or not.

        We are all missing a great race if we get distracted by a sparse crowd on a crummy Monday. Don’t worry about attendance; that is management’s problem and I suspect at some level, it doesn’t bother them.

  4. Reuben says:

    I have to completely disagree with Choate’s being listed with “The Bad”. Regardless of anyone’s nervousness by his being in there with a 4 run lead he’s been doing his job and has been doing it well. If you are going to put Qualls in with “The Good” with his terrible ERA which a lot of people qualify as being bad luck with his BABIP and all then Choate belongs in there as well. In case no one noticed Choate isn’t a guy we’re supposed to count on to get right-handed hitters out and he did just that last night.

    There needs to come a time with 5 or so weeks left in the season that Rays fans needs to start cutting Choate some slack. He’s been the only LOOGY for the entire year and he’s getting it done. From what I’ve seen most of what’s inflated his numbers this year is from the early part of the year when he was rusty/struggling and facing righties.

    As for the attendance stuff…. it is what it is and it isn’t going to change. I can’t wait for the new stadium to be built and to see all these people crying about how they’d go if it were in Tampa not show up. Moving the stadium to Tampa or even Gateway in St Pete won’t make the drastic difference in attendance everyone thinks it’s going to make. Not right away.

    • Tom says:

      I agree, Choate has a 3.27 FIP.

    • Thad says:

      I disagree. A new park in South Tampa would dramatically improve season tixx and local weeknight attendance. A lot of the Bay Area’s money is within 15 min of South Tampa and thousands more would buy partial and full packages compared to the “locals” that currently are not supporting the team in South St. Pete. But that’s an argument that we won’t have a definitive answer to for several years.

      The bottom line (and my biggest beef) is that this “Rays attendance” issue has become a national media narrative that has taken on a life of its own as some sort of indictment on local support. The facts are that the Bay Area is gaga over the Rays. BECAUSE of the current stadium and location, unfortunately the Area’s embrace of the Rays is only showing up in TV ratings and merchandise sales, which don’t happen to make it into the nightly soundbites that show up on BSPN and MLBN. Go ask Rays management how much ransom they will be asking from Fox Sports Florida during the next broadcast rights negotiation. That will dramatically improve the club’s revenue base, but no one’s talking about that.

      A new stadium in a new area would also improve the club’s revenue base. Maybe not sellouts every night, but they wouldn’t draw under 12,000 in late August either.

      • Mike says:

        Where in south tampa are you going to build a stadium? There is no room for one. The only possible place close to south tampa is the area south of gandy near westshore, and I have serious doubts that anyone would build a stadium there.

        • Sarah says:

          I think he means build it within an easy ride of South Tampa, not IN South Tampa, which clearly doesn’t have any appropriate sites. And I agree about the national media narrative — if you look at any national baseball reporting, the ONLY TIME they discuss the Rays is to diss our attendance.

      • Thad says:

        Exactly Sarah. Not necessarily exactly in South Tampa, but Downtown, Channelside, WestShore, wherever you choose in that general vicinity. And as important as the location (which everyone obsesses over), a big part of a projected attendance boost is actually having a brand, new ballpark, that in itself is a destination.

        The Trop is a serviceable, well-run venue for viewing a baseball game. A new retro park near downtown could be a destination where they happen to be playing baseball. Like it or not, it’s not just about the baseball. A hip, happening, new facility in a great South Tampa location, with more areas to hang out after work and watch the game and do other things and go out afterwards and get cabs home is just a better recipe for attendance than the Trop, which is isolated and out of the way for most of the Bay Area. It just is.

        Not predicting sell-outs, but it’s as much about the facility and the surrounding developed areas as it is the specific geographic location.

    • Charles says:

      Take away Choate’s April and you’re left with a guy that hasn’t allowed a homer, has a 1.14 WHIP and is holding opponents to a sub-.600 OPS. That’s a guy I want in games.

      Of course, that April was so shaky that it’s not surprising that the queasy feeling of seeing him come in has lasted all season long.

      • Rumpy says:

        I was thinking the same thing while reading about Choate also. His ERA was up to roughly 27.00 at some point if I can remember correctly. He has brought it down to around 4.50. He has been pretty consistent these past few months and isn’t he among the league leaders in appearances?

        • Charles says:

          Choate actually leads the majors in appearances. He’s been in 70 games, up by 8 over the next closest AL pitcher, Phil Coke. A couple of NL guys are up to 68, but Choate leads.

          I think that the loss of J.P. Howell could have been a huge disaster, but as it turns out it really hasn’t been. Benoit probably gets most of the credit for that, but Choate deserves a big cap tip as well I think.

  5. Tone says:

    I hate hearing about tix sales, but even I have to say that it is pathetic no one shows. I live in Tokyo now and lived in NYC prior and still have made it to 5 games this year. Any of you people reading this that don’t go at least once a week that live there are jokes. You suck like Kapler!!!

  6. Amanda says:

    Ha! I just thought of something. ESPN hadn’t done a Sunday night game at the Trop before this past Sunday since 2000. That means they didn’t come during the entire playoff push when they won the AL East in 2008, they didn’t schedule any games for them in St. Pete for 2009 when they were defending champs, and they finally worked them in again in St. Pete this year when it became brutally obvious that they weren’t falling too far out of first place.

    I question ESPN’s attendance record. I can hear them now: “Ooh, it’s just too far to go to St. Pete. I don’t like the drive over the bridge at rush hour. (Which I remember Lupica saying when the Final Four was there.) I don’t like the stadium. There’s nothing to do after the game. Ferg’s is ok, but they can’t cordon us off from the riff-raff.”

  7. Leighroy says:

    I disagree with the assertion that “a lot of tampa bays money is within 15 mins of south tampa.”. Actually a good portion is located in north pinellas county from clearwater northward, as evidenced by Ferrari’s research and location due to demographics. Putting a stadium in south tampa would open up people within that area yes, but would cripple the ability of a fan base with a relatively large disposable income.

    12000 may not be pretty but I guarantee at least 3000 of those fans are from that region which isn’t as close to the trop as you think. It still takes 45 mins from palm harbor to get to the trop bc of US 19 traffic. Stadium in south tampa would mean this region of potentially 3000 fans + would be looking at over an hour.

    I’m not trying to heat the debate between st pete and tampa but just trying to point out that there is no magic answer here as some of you make it out to be. The bigger issue here really is our areas transportational infrastructure but that’s a whole other problem for a whole other forum.

    • Carey says:

      Yo Leighroy! Uh, might want to take another look at your projected drive times. Just as easy, if not easier, to go from Palm Harbor to Tampa as St. Pete (Curlew/Hillsborough to Veterans to 275). That’s the point with the Trop: It’s only convenient for those south of Ulmerton.

      You know, I’m over the attendence thing. Stick a fork in the Trop. It’s done. Just a matter of when – or if – we get a stadium.

  8. Don says:

    Is it ok to comment on baseball on this blog or is it mainly for attendance figures???
    Carlos Pena is everyone’s hero in games he hits a home run….
    basically one game a week (avg)….He is NOT a prescence in those games he strikes out 2/3 times and doesn’t get on base…and I don’t think any “good” major league pitcher is “scared” of his “prescence”…but welcome the opportunity of facing someone with a .200 batting avg….odds are (8 of 10)
    just another out…
    But if home runs are your measuring stick for impact…just wait…next week he will hit another one!

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