RAYS 6, Rangers 0 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Bossman Bombs. BJ Upton is getting hot just in time to hit the free agent market, becoming just the third Rays player with 3 home runs in a game, and the first since Evan Longoria in 2008 (also Johnny Gomes in 2005). Upton now has 21 home runs for the 3rd time in his career and is just 3 short of his career high. And in his last 28 games, Upton is hitting .305 with 11 home runs and 23 driven in…James the Greater. This was 2011 James Shields and he made it look easy. Just two hits in throwing his second shutout of the season. The first hit was just an infield hit to Ben Zobrist. He then retired 19 in a row before giving up the second hit, a meaningless single with 2 outs in the 8th inning. He had the perfect balance of fastballs (38 of 101 pitches) and changeups (28). And the result was 12 swinging strikes, 6 of them on the changeup. And in 8 starts since increasing the use of his fastball, the Rays are 7-1 and Shields has a 1.90 ERA and he has allowed just 32 hits in 61.2 innings with 55 Ks and just 8 walks.
THE BAD: Getting Crowded Again. Don’t look now, but not only can the Rays not seem to catch the Orioles or A’s, but the Angels have suddenly won 6 in a row and are tied with the Rays, 1 game behind the others. Obviously the Rays overcame a much worse deficit last season. But in some respects, that was easier because the Rays needed just 1 team to collapse, and they did. Now the Rays are battling 3 other teams, and have to outplay two of them. And all three of them are playing well right now, showing no signs of collapse.
THE TELLING: Desmond Jennings missed both games this weekend with stiffness in his back but is expected to play tomorrow…David Price sounds fine, but we won’t know for certain until his bullpen session tomorrow…Thursday’s huge game against the Orioles will not be on TV locally…The Rays are 77-63, 2 games behind the Yankees. According to CoolStandings.com, the Rays have a 60.8% chance of making the playoffs…
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- It turns out the Rays needed Chris Archer to pitch on Saturday anyways. But Minor League Baseball was not going to let Archer start for double-A Montgomery in the SL playoffs. The Rays wanted Archer to get some extra work and stay fresh, but MiLB may have thought it was an unfair advantage for the Biscuits. [Biscuit Crumbs]
- Here’s the brutal blown call that ended the Yankees-Orioles game on Saturday night. [BI Sports]
- Andrew Friedman talks about the importance of the Rays’ pitching depth. [TampaBay.com]
- This is not a hard decision for the Rays. They will not re-sign BJ Upton. The Rays M.O. is to let their expensive free agents walk and hope the next wave of prospects pick up the slack at a tenth of the cost. [A Call to the Pen]
- The 2012 Durham Bulls in colorful charts. It was really just one bad stretch early in the season that they never recovered from. [WDBB]
- The Bucs won their season opener and Greg Schiano became the first bucs coach to win his debut since Sam Wyche in 1992. Be sure to check out Joe Bucs Fan for all the coverage you need on the big win. [JoeBucsFan]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
DURHAM. season completed
Mobile 11, MONTGOMERY 4. (Biscuits lose series 3-1) Merrill Kelly allowed 6 runs in 4.2 innings…RF Mikie Mahtook was 1-5 with 2 strikeouts…2B Derek Dietrich was 0-3 with a walk.
CHARLOTTE. season completed
BOWLING GREEN. season completed
HUDSON VALLEY 8, Brooklyn 1. (tied 1-1 in best-of-3, winner advances to NY-Penn Championship series) Jeff Ames struck out 4 and allowed just 1 run in 6 innings. SS Leonardo Reginatto’s 2-run double in the 8th made it 6-1 and sealed the win.
PRINCETON. season completed