The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

RAYS 5, Rangers 2 (boxscore)

THE GOOD: Sending a Message. The Rays went into Texas and won 2 of 3. We don’t know if that means the Rays are better than the Rangers. But it does mean that right now, the Rays are as good as any team in the AL. Some people already knew that. Most didn’t. Now they do…King David’s Change. If you were there for the Tailgate before the game, we said the key to Price was his changeup. Of his 101 pitches, 24 were changeups, and 18 of those were strikes. And of those 4 were swinging strikes. In other words, he had the powerful Rangers lineup guessing most of the night. Is 6.1 innings enough from Price? Sure we would like a little more. But against the Rangers, that is enough with a lead…Joel Peralta. He’s not getting the same love as Honey Badger. And part of that was a rough start to the season. But holy moley. With a man on in the 7th, he came in and struck out two straight to end a quasi-rally. And then Peralta retired the Rangers 1-2-3 in the 8th…Zorilla. Ben Zobrist was just 3 for his last 27 and hitting .183 entering the game. But he went 3-4 for his first multi-hit game in more than 2 weeks.

THE BAD: We Have To Stop Underestimating. We have to find a way to stop underestimating this team. They are really, really good. Knowing the schedule, we would have been ecstatic with 11-11 at this point. Going into Texas, we would have been happy with one win in the series.

THE TELLING: Jose Lobaton is close to going on a rehab assignmentDavid Price was 0-6 with a 5.30 ERA in the regular season against the Rangers prior to last night…The Durham Bulls lost their 13th straight game yesterday. But at least they didn’t waste any hits in this one. It was a no-hitter…Reid Brignac is just 3-24 (.125) since being demoted.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Be sure to click the <Read More…> below to see some GIFs from last night’s game…
  • Joe Maddon sounds encouraged (of course) about Jose Molina and expects things to get better. [TampaBay.com]
  • Wade Davis says his new role is still a work in progress, but Joe Maddon says Friday’s game was a big lesson. [TBO.com]
  • Joe Maddon calls his outfield, one of the best he’s ever seen. [TBO.com]
  • BraysBallTalk is branching out. Cool. Looking forward to it. [BRaysballTalk]
  • We miss Josh Hamilton and Buster Posey. But we are glad Bryce Harper is somebody else’s problem. [BI Sports]
  • The Bucs are going to work out a “modern day Doug Flutie” this week. [JoeBucsFan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

Indianapolis 2, DURHAM 0. Alex Cobb’s strong outing was spoiled, striking out 5, walking none, and allowing just 2 runs in 6.1 innings…Dane de la Rosa struck out 3 and retired all 8 batters he faced.

Birmingham 5, MONTGOMERY 3. SS Hak-Ju Lee had his 5th multi-hit game in the last 6 games, going 2-4 with a walk. His average is up to .248. He also stole his 5th base.

Palm Beach 3, CHARLOTTE 0. Enny Romero allowed just 1 run in 6 innings, striking out 2 and walking 2…The Stone Crabs managed just 4 hits.

Wisconsin 5, BOWLING GREEN 2. Ryan Carpenter struck out 5 and walked 1 in 6 innings…RF Drew Vettleson was 1-4

A few GIFs from yesterday’s game

Here’s Sean Rodriguez’ great slide as he tagged up from first base:

These Rangers fans demonstrate the “Antlers,” the “Antler Clap,” and the “I just sharted, and now afraid to move”:

And how awesome is this scene after last night’s win. The antics of Mini-Maddon (Elliot Johnson) and the reaction by Joe Maddon:

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24 Comments

  1. don says:

    APRIL 29, 2012: Tampabay Rays make the Big Time….
    Forget the World Series (2008) or making playoffs 3 years,
    the baseball world view those early successes as a fluke…..
    This Weekend the Rays prove to themselves and the World they “Belong” with the Elite in baseball..ask the Rangers

  2. s says:

    ok cork, did….
    a. bj miss the sign?
    b. bj blow off the sign?
    c. bj make a horrible effort at a squeeze?
    d. both zobrist and longo miss the sign. (wide replay showed they both started)

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think this was the downside to Joe Maddon’s squeeze and not sure anybody missed a sign. I *think* it was a safety squeeze. But, Maddon’s safety squeeze is much more aggressive than most teams. So in this case, Longo started, and when it turned out the squeeze wasn’t there, I think he was just too slow to react and get back. It’s a great play when it works. But it does leave the runners exposed when it doesn’t.

  3. Amanda says:

    Cork, should we be worried about the Bulls losing 13 straight? Is that a worrying stat about orgainzational depth? Or is it just a string of bad luck? (Then again, the Lightning’s farm club team broke a professional hockey record for consecutive wins and the Lightning didn’t make the playoffs … I guess if I want a team in an organization to be good, it should be the top-tier team.)

    Also, I wasn’t paying complete attention to the radio this morning, but I thought I heard Rock Riley on 620 this morning saying that the guys on the team are calling Rodney “Kimbo Slice.” But I like Honey Badger better. lol

    • Cork Gaines says:

      It is a concern. And it is something that is worrisome if you look at the Rays top prospects. That is, after Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings, there is not a lot of good prospects at AAA and AA. You’ve got the 3 pitchers in Durham (Cobb, Torres, Archer), but Alex Torres has struggled horribly early on and Chris Archer hasn’t pitched well at all since coming over from the Cubs. Tim Beckham is what he is. And then you’ve got the shortstop at AA (Hak-Ju Lee). But after that, it is slim-pickins.

      The good news is, so many of the Rays key players at the big league level are very young and under team control for a while. So unless somebody sustains a season-long injury, sometime in the next couple of years, they really don’t need the depth right now.

      Oh, and yes, the players call him Kimbo Slice because he looks like the boxer.

      • Amanda says:

        Good point about the young talent being up in The Show. That said … what do you think the cause of the lack of depth is? Is it a function of not picking No. 1 year after year (finally)? Is it poor scouting and drafting?

        • Cork Gaines says:

          The 2008 (Tim Beckham) and 2009 (LeVon Washington) drafts really hurt the depth. Those guys should be knocking on the door, and not only did LeVon never sign, but the other top picks (outside of Beckham) are not close.

    • Chris D says:

      Local Bulls writer had a good piece about the lack of prospects on the Bulls this year that covers it pretty well. That said I don’t think anyone expected it to be *this* bad. Pretty much every hitter is playing below their career minor league average OPS.

      http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/archives/2012/04/26/devastation-at-last-durham-bulls-return-home-after-disastrous-1-13-road-trip#more

    • Chris says:

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot (and will eventually do a thinkpiece on it). Yes, you should be worried, but possibly not for the usual reason, home grown talent. Think about all the AAAA talent (with an occasional major talent) the Rays have picked up in trades over the last several years. Think about Fuld and Rodriguez and Joyce up your way. Down our way we’ve only got Guyer (twisted ankle) and Archer (he did much better night before last) left over from previous deals. At a guess the Rays have been trolling BJ, Niemann and Davis looking for a deal, but haven’t found it … yet. We here in Durham hope that you do, because an outfield of Feliciano, Salazar, and Hudson ain’t gonna help you (or us) at all. (What’s that, you’ve never heard of those guys? Why am I not surprised? Neither had I before the season started.)

      • Jason C says:

        When are they going to move Lee up and move Beckham to 2nd or even 3rd? It just seems that a lot of our talent is either on the big league team or in the lower levels.

        • Cork Gaines says:

          I think we are going to get our first clue on this move in a week or so when Tim Beckham comes off the DL. Who plays SS, Beckham or Brignac? If Beckham plays SS, then Brignac’s time with the Rays is essentially over and they will move him after the season. But if Brignac plays SS, the Rays have an excuse to move Beckham to 2B now and open the door for Lee whenever Brignac comes back up or is moved to another team.

          • Jason C says:

            Wow, i completely forgot about Briggy. I’d have to think his days are numbered. I guess we’ll keep Lee down until he’s completely broken out of his slump (already appearing that he has). Once hes done that, we have to move him up, id hope. Briggy’s only hope is that the Rays move Beckham back to AA to “rehab” after the DL stint…so unlikely.

  4. Beth says:

    Not to be the wet blanket here, but wouldn’t some of the base running blunders be “the bad?”

    Not just Longo getting thrown out at third (ouch!) but even in their big scoring inning, It seemed to me that they could have had one or two more if BJ and Scott had been more alert in their running. The ESPN announcers were commenting on this, and I think they have a point.

  5. Jason C says:

    Well, unless the Rays did something they rarely do, Evan messed up. The Rays almost always utilize the safety squeeze, not the suicide squeeze. They do that in case the pitch is 2 feet outside, like it was last night. I doubt anyone “missed the sign”. Evan just moved too far down the line. Of course, if the call was for a suicide squeeze, then BJ messed up. Odds are though, the call was for a safety squeeze.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Yes, technically it is a safety squeeze. But a few of us have always referred to it as an “Emo Squeeze.” That is, it is a safety squeeze with suicidal tendencies. Maddon wants the player’s to be aggressive, and the very nature of the Safety Squeeze doesn’t really allow that.

      • Jason C says:

        Yea, maddon will always applaud aggressive base-running. Obviously the guy on 3rd has the toughest job on those plays, especially with a right-hander batting. Cant blame Upton though, that ball was WAY outside.

  6. s says:

    in years past, i would probably agree. but didn’t we already have more than one suicide squeeze this year? it appear to me that is what was called last night, and BJ just failed to make contact with the ball.

    if it was called as a suicide, then unless the ball was in the dougout, upton HAS to make contact.

    • RayJay says:

      Really don’t think it was a suicide, Evan would have been much further down the line, and Zobrist would have been stealing second. Neither one committed that much, it just appeared Evan took one step too many and Holland made the right pitch (unbuntable) for the situation. Nothing more.

  7. Jason C says:

    I dont recall any suicide squeeze calls. I know there was the missed call with Molina, where he swung away. Im pretty sure the guy on 3rd (Sean Rodriguez, I think) wasnt full speed running (which he would be doing on a suicide). Evan wasnt going full speed either…that’s why im sure it was a safety squeeze.

  8. Dave L says:

    Alot of our baserunning ‘errors’ came from indecision on what will be caught. hit the wall, go over the wall etc and in that stadium last three days every long pop fly could have done any of the above so its understandable.

    Every play that could have had a better outcome doesnt necessarily mean someone did something wrong.

    I’d say our baserunning miscues were equal parts too aggressive and not aggressive enough so some was just bad luck.

  9. Gus says:

    As a general observation, I cannot remember a Rays team running the bases this poorly and making so many errors in the Maddon era. Luckily, their offense is vastly improved.

    • Beth says:

      I agree! First, they are attempting to steal less often. Now, that might be strategy — all the “stats guys” claim that stealing, outside of some specific situations, is generally a bad idea — the gain of a base is on average so much less helpful than a caught stealing is unhelpful that you’d have to be successful something like 75% of the time for stealing to make sense. So the diminished running game might be intentional.

      But the general boneheadedness on the base paths? That’s just inattentiveness. The Rays offense is improved, but it’s not good enough for them to get away from being the team that does the small things well.

      • Gus says:

        Upton made outs at home and 3rd Friday night and then hit into a double play, and his baserunning in Sunday’s game was inexplicable no matter what his brother says (I’ve seen him yanked from a game for dopey baserunning, so this isn’t exactly Tom Emanski speaking here).

        For years I thought Foley wasn’t a good 3rd base coach, but I’m almost ready to blame it on the players as well. In any event, have you ever seen a 3b coach and players have so much pained discussions at 3b after these gaffes? Like little league.

        As a final negative note, as a leading proponent of Molina-ness, this April has shaken my faith in the first family of catching. His defense is really, really bad. I don’t think he can carry that weight anymore. I want another month, but if we are here on Memorial Day, I’m ready to abandon ship and go young.

        Otherwise, a great start. I believe:
        1. Matt Joyce should start most days
        2. Zobrist should play most of his games at 2b
        3. That Longo needs to pay attention on defense
        4. That Price has finally learned that 95% fastballs will get you beat in this league
        5. That Gomes, not McGee, is the young reliever with the most potential
        6. That Wade Davis is going to be a hero this season
        7. That the Nats and Rays will meet in the World Series in 2012 or 2013
        8. That the shifts are the greatest innovation in baseball strategy since Earl Weaver’s use of platoons in the 1970s.

        • Andy says:

          Damn, Gus, love ALL of your points, tho I’m not so convinced @ #7, tho that is intriguing!!! Oh yeah, not sure I’d give Molina another month!! He seems to have lost some passion for the game b/c he’s become just plain lethargic & slow!!

          & I’m w/Beth @ use of their team speed, or lack thereof. This was especially true tonight when Montero was catching – they didn’t test him once!! I especially wanted BenZo to steal 3rd to see if Monty’s propensity to overthrow might net us the winning run. Turns out EJ came thru, much to my surprise :D

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