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Orioles 4, Rays 2 (click image for boxscore)

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: Evan Longoria. For a while there the Rays looked overmatched as they trailed 1-0 for most of the game. But then Longoria seemed to save the night with a 2-run bomb in the 6th that temporarily gave the Rays the lead. That seemed to be the spark the Rays needed. But it wasn’t enough.

THE BAD: David Price. After a little bit of a rocky start, giving up a run in the first, Price was cruising by the time the 4th inning rolled around. He needed only 37 pitches to get through the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings, with 28 of those strikes. But while 84% (11 of 13) of his pitches were strikes in the 4th, he slowly deteriorated from there. In the 5th, it was 60% (9 of 15) strikes. In the 6th it fell to 54% (7 of 13). And finally, in the 7th, only 12 of his 25 (48%) pitches were in the strikezone. The velocity was still there, with 7 pitches hitting at least 96 mph in his final frame. But he just lost the strikezone and the O’s tied the game…Sean Rodriguez. In the 1st inning with a runner on second base, Sean Rodriguez, at shortstop, played a ball to his left as if he were playing second base. He drifted back into the outfield, waited for the ball to come to him, and thus was forced to rush his throw. The throw was in the dirt and got past Casey Kotchman, allowing the O’s first run to score…JP Howell. Just when it looked like The Dude was back to his old self, Matt Wieters came up and took JP deep breaking a 2-2 tie in the 8th.

THE TELLING: The Rays have had 5-game winning streaks 5 times this season. They are now 0-5 going for win number 6 in a row…Kyle Farnsworth’s return “won’t be anytime soon.” Roger Mooney speculates he might not return until the Yankees series next week.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Forgot to mention this earlier, but here are the letterman sweaters the Rays wore on this roadtrip. [@SPTimesRays]
  • Marc Topkin has an update on Manny Ramirez. [TampaBay.com]
  • James Shields has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente award. [The Heater]
  • In addition to the Nationals, BJ Upton also mentioned the Mets as a team he wouldn’t mind playing for. [CBS Sports]
  • Here is another writer offering reasons why the Rays will win the Wild Card (obviously written prior to last night’s game). [Yahoo Sports]
  • Looks like local sports fans are in panic mode all over the place. [Joe Bucs Fan]
  • Here is a look at Bowling Green’s ballpark. [Stadium Journey]

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23 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    Before the game, I saw on MLB Network that the Angels were going to pitch Jered Weaver on three days rest. What intrigues me is that everyone compares what Maddon does to what the Angels do, because he learned through their system. The guys on MLB Network were saying that the Angels brass said that this time of year was “now or never” and that “they can rest during the off-season.” As you pointed out earlier, the Rays were flirting with six-man rotations and resting starters.

    I almost wonder about the mental aspect of this moreso than the physical. On one hand, you have the Angels throwing down a gauntlet saying, “We’re going for it! Huzzah!” On the other hand, you have the Rays going, “We’ve got to be careful. Meep.” That’s got to give the Angels a boost in confidence.

    Again, we can’t just look at the Rays compared to the Red Sox; we also have to look behind us at the Angels, who just crept up a game on the Rays.

    • Tom says:

      There was a graphic last night showing since Aug. 8 the Rays starters ERA has been 2.96 which is the best in the AL, the 2nd best was about 3.7 and the 3rd best was over 4. You are asserting that they are not trying to win because they are not using their starters on 3 days rest? I do not think you can complain about the way Maddon has handled the pitching staff the past month.

    • Sarah says:

      You’d use a starter on three days rest if you were fighting for the division AND you only had 4 decent starters. Why on earth would the Rays need to do this? Which starter is so awful that you’d want to skip his start?

    • Amanda says:

      Guys, I was just saying I was curious and I wonder how or if it’s going to affect the team. I didn’t say Maddon was wrong or even that it’s doom and gloom. Do I think the Angels have the right idea? Yes, for now. Will I wait to pass full judgement to see if it’s the right or wrong thing to do after it plays out? Yes, again.

      This is something that completely irks me in our society right now. You can disagree with someone on one point, but that doesn’t mean you either think EVERYTHING that person does is wrong, and that doesn’t mean you HATE that person. *shiesh*

      The Rays are still in the driver’s seat for now for getting into the playoffs. I’m really happy about that. Yay!

    • Tom says:

      Who said anything about hating anyone?

  2. Don says:

    Can you spell washed up…starts with “JP”…you could have taken that picture (above) after any pitch because he falls down after Every pitch….
    Poor mechanics…. Leading to arm injuries……

    • werD says:

      CAN WE PLEASE STOP WITH THE JP HOWELL EXPERIMENT!?!?!?

      He has an ERA over 7, and has blown every single big situation the Rays have put him in. he is CLEARLY not the same pitcher he once was. it is time to cut bait, put him back on the DL. id pitch Moore in every one of his situations, from here on out…

  3. Rob says:

    Maddon has been pulling all the right strings lately, but was he the only one last night who didn’t see the HR coming?

    Why in the world would he let a struggling left-hander pitch against a guy who thrives against left-handed pitching? After those two deep fly balls and the smoked base hit by Guerrero, bring a right-hander in and turn Weiters around.

    Actually, with two of three batters being right-handed to start the inning, why in the world did he take Cruz out in the first place? My word, he only pitched to one batter in the 7th.

    JP is either still hurt or will never regain his stuff, but he not helping this ball club right now. Shut him down for the year and let Moore take his place.

  4. Gus says:

    Reminiscent of a JP HR in Seattle on a Friday night in August in 2009 that seemed to seal the Rays that year too.

    Too much leverage for him, and with a bullpen awash with lefties, a curious choice for a manager who had been making all the right moves.

  5. Tone says:

    Maddon and the organization are not playing for keeps.
    They have done this all season and squandered a year that could have been a sure fire playoff spot.
    Andy Sonnanstine and JP Howell are perfect examples of not giving it your best.
    Using Howell against righties and especially Weiters was inexcusable.
    Maddon lost some respect from me after that; not that it matters to him, but still….

  6. Sarah says:

    JP Howell clearly served up the pitch that sealed the Rays fate. But last night’s game was lost due to poor offense (how many men left on base?) and defensive errors. Howell’s had more good outings than bad lately.

    • Gus says:

      S-Rod shares the goat horns with JP for the DP ball and the bad throw in the 1st.

      Another bases loaded, no out, no run inning. That must be some kind of record.

    • MarkE says:

      I agree. With the stench of that fatal pitch fresh in the air, it’s easy to pile on JP. But in my opinion, he was MANAGED into that situation last night. Though he’s been very successful recently, there can’t be any logical excuse for JP being on the mound for that pitch.

      It seems that sometimes Maddon will overlook 2 or 3 glaring, important stats, just so he can pull out some bizarre statistic he found deep in the spreadsheet and boast about his intuition after the decision somehow works out in the Rays favor.

      I hope someone was assigned “JP watch” duty last night after the game because he looked absolutely devastated.

      And the bats… how many seasons are going to come to an end on inconsistent offense?

      • Dre says:

        i agree completely. yes, JP made the horrible pitch, but its doubtful he was on the bullpen phone calling Maddon and convincing him to let him pitch. when the front office finally seems to get on board with potential play-offs (starting to advertise post season tickets coupled with the 2012 season tickets), why does Maddon make this call? i know i’m not the only one that cringed when i saw he was coming in. i appreciate that we want to let JP know the organization still supports him, but this is not the time to do it. he seems to have as much confidence in himself as we do, so just let him ride the bench the rest of the season please.

        • Sarah says:

          Fact is, JP has been pretty good recently — I don’t have stats at my finger tips but he’s had a run of clean outings since his really abysmal showing earlier in the year. Sure, we could argue that he should have not pitched to the right-handed Wieters, but his splits against righties have generally been good – he’s never been treated as a lefty specialist. And tell me who in the bullpen you’d have there instead. Farnsworth is out, which means they are likely reserving Peralta for a potential 9th inning. Ramos is a lefty with terrible splits against righties, so he’s out. So you think Gomes or McGee are better options? Both have had many weak outings. You want this to be Matt Moore’s MLB debut?

          Look, I’m as miserable with the outcome as anyone, but I have to roll my eyes at all the commentators who just KNEW Howell was the wrong choice. Our bullpen is mediocre, which means they often fail, and I’d say they’ve all had a hand in these failures. In short, I don’t think Maddon has many can’t-miss options in the bullpen, and despite the outcome I can’t say with certainty that Howell was the wrong choice at that moment.

          • Rob says:

            I have to disagree with you on this one Sarah. Maddon had plenty of better options, including bringing Cruz back out. He only threw 4 pitches the previous inning and two of the three batters to start the 8th were right-handed.

            I think Brandon Gomes would have been a better choice too, and that’s who Maddon eventually went to after JP gave up the gopher. If Maddon can go to Gomes in the 10th in a tied game against the Red Sox line-up on Saturday and then heap praise on him for the job well done, why not go to him again three days later against a weaker-hitting Orioles team in a similar situation.

            JP may not be a lefty specialist, but his splits tell a different story. Lefties are hitting .190 against him with 1 HR and righties are hitting .294 with 5 HR in 7 fewer ABs. He has walked significantly more than he has struck out against righties (not the case against lefties) and his OPS is twice as high against right-handed batters than against left-handed batters (.977 vs .495). He had no business pitching to Weiters in that situation. Maddon set him up to fail.

          • MarkE says:

            I like JP Howell as much as anyone. I don’t blame him. I want to see him on the mound in the next game and the game after that. But that was the wrong setup. RH batter. JP had just missed giving up homers to previous batters. He didn’t have his stuff. He was leaving pitches up, and it took what, 4 batters to figure that out?

          • Rob says:

            Just to pile on, and this will be my last post about it (I am just so baffled and frustrated this is just my way to vent):

            Weiters is batting .233 with 10 HR (in 343 AB) and has an OPS of .649 against righties.

            Against lefties, he is batting .342 with 8 HR (in 111 AB) with an OPS of 1.067.

            He has an OBP of .285 against righties and .424 against left-handed pitchers.

            What was Maddon thinking??!!

  7. Hal says:

    As someone who always gives Maddon 10′s, last night’s game is clearly on him. JP has been horrible against righties this year even though he has come around lately against lefties. But even if you want to inject him with some confidence and throw him out there last night, don’t you have to pull him after first guy goes warning track, second guy goes to the wall, vlad smokes one, and Weiters is coming up? Weiters kills lefties. Especially shaky lefties.

    But then the ninth rolls around. Our bench is absurdly deep right now (with bodies at least). You won’t let Joyce hit against lefties all year, but now is the time? Against that side-winding lefty that is just about impossible for lefties to hit?

    Love ya Joe, but that one is on you.

  8. Don says:

    Gee look out… Maddon..the natives are getting restless

  9. Esteban Yan says:

    Hindsight is always 20/20, but I absolutely believe Matt Moore should have been on the mound in the 8th inning last night. Put him into a high-leverage situation against a manageable offense. The kid is a beast. Why put a crucial game in the hands of a shaky, junk-throwing reliever instead of a fireballing kid who is the best pitching prospect in team history?

  10. jim says:

    jp is on a year to year contract. he has little to no trade value based on his post injury play. i really don’t understand why didn’t get his rehab in the minors. he had one great month and the rest stunk.

    everyone one keeps saying that he’s physically ready, if so then why are we putting him in situation after situation and he’s failing. if it’s truly mental, then we’re complete idiots for this trial by fire approach in high pressure situations at the expense of a legit playoff run.

    when you throw batting practice velocity, you can’t make mistakes in location or selection, plain and simple. his mental game has to be much sharper,because the fastball isn’t going to buy you any cheap strikes. the 80mph meatball could have caught more plate. what we have is an left handed andy as a reliever. he has no place in our bullpen except for mop up duty.

  11. Alex says:

    We can all blame JP, but really Price and the offense blew the game. How do you give up that double to Jake Fox? He’s batting .220 for a reason. Why pick around the corners and throw a cutter when the cutter is your 4th or 5th best pitch? Just dumb

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