Mariners 3, RAYS 2 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Matt Moore. It certainly wasn’t double-nickel’s fault as Matt Moore continued the Rays dominant pitching ways, striking out 9 and walking just 1 in 7 innings. That is 4 straight starts having allowed 1 run or less, and 6 straight giving up 2 runs or less. In 6 starts since the All-Star break, Moore has a 1.43 ERA and should be 5-1…Hitting Like A Boss. BJ Upton had a big hit early, with an RBI triple (probably should have been a double). And he now has hits in 10 of the last 11 games and has scored in 8 runs in the last 8 games.
THE BAD: Ugly Offense. For the first time since Evan Longoria returned, the ugly offense reared its ugly head. Despite a fast start with 2 runs in the first inning, the Rays failed to score again. In 3 separate innings, the Rays had runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs and failed to score. That included the top of the 9th when Jeff Keppinger doubled to lead off the inning, but was followed by Carlos Pena and Ryan Roberts striking out…Ugly Defense. One of the keys to the great pitching of late has been the suddenly improved defense. But then Carlos Pena, typically one of the dependable defensive players, got caught in between on a sac bunt in the 9th inning, unable to decided whether to get the runner at second or first. His indecision led to his throw going into right field…Ugly Pitching? Should we get on Joe Maddon’s case for pitching Fernando Rodney 4 days in a row and 6 of the last 8? Probably not. If JoeMa goes to Kyle Farnsworth, and Farnsville blows it, we would all be screaming about how he should have used Rodney. That being said, Rodney clearly didn’t have his A+ stuff. And while Pena’s error was the big blow, Rodney did give up 2 hits (although maybe the 2nd doesnt happen with normal defense). And more importantly, he had no strikeouts on a night that he really need strikeouts [As several have pointed out, in the late-night air, I apparently blacked out the strikeout just before the game-winning hit. So he had 1 strikeout when he needed 2].
THE TELLING: Jeff Nieman made his 2nd rehab start (see below)…The Rays are now tied with the Orioles for the Wild Card lead at 63-53. The Tigers and A’s are 1.5 games back.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Luke Scott will rejoin the Rays on Thursday in Anaheim. [TBO.com]
- Here’s a look at the AL East since the beginning of the season. It is remarkable how the Rays and Orioles have had almost identical seasons. [BI Sports]
- As we have speculated, Joe Maddon hinted that he might use a 6-man rotation when Jeff Niemann returns. I would be surprised if it lasted very long, but 2-3 weeks would be good to give some guys a little extra rest. [TampaBay.com]
- If you have been off the grid, here’s the epic meltdown in Boston. I’m far from the only person that thought this at the time, but why in the world did anybody think Bobby Valentine was a good fit for that team? And no, it’s not all his fault, and quite frankly, he and the players deserve each other now. [Yahoo! Sports]
- The City of St. Pete will not sue the developer that wants to put a new baseball stadium in the Carillon area. [TampaBay.com]
- The Bucs will be blacked out on Friday. [JoeBucsFan]
- Joel Peralta sounds surprised by his success this season. [TampaBay.com]
- Joe Smith talked with Ryan Roberts about his tattoos and his charitable work. [TampaBay.com]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
DURHAM 6, Columbus 3. Matt Torra worked 6.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and no walks. He struck out 3…SS Tim Beckham went 0-5 and is hitting .255…RF Leslie Anderson 3-4 raising his average to .314.
MONTGOMERY 4, Huntsville 1. Merrill Kelly improved to 7-2 with 5 shutout innings. His ERA is now 3.21…RF Mikie Mahtook went 0-3.
Bradenton 5, CHARLOTTE 4. Jeff Niemann allowed 4 runs in 3.1 innings, striking out 3 and walking 2. Of his 64 pitches, 41 were strikes…DH Luke Scott homered in what was likely his final rehab start.
BOWLING GREEN. no game scheduled
HUDSON VALLEY. no game scheduled