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

RAYS 5, Red Sox 1 (boxscore)

THE GOOD: Yunel Escobar. Escobar was all over the place last night and if one game ever wins a Gold Glove, this was it. Everybody will talk about the smooth behind-the-back glove flip, and that was amazing. But, he also made at least two other plays most shortstops wouldn’t make and he made them look easy…King David. We all knew Price would be great and it seemed like Price had reached his potential last year and that is what we would see until he was traded. But Price has elevated his game to a new level that few could have predicted. In 5 starts since coming off the DL, Price has struck out 27 batters and walked just 1. Anything above a 3-to-1 ratio is considered good. He also has 3 complete games and hasn’t needed more than 98 pitches in any of them. The only thing that has hurt him is the long ball. He has given up just 8 runs, 6 have come via 5 home runs…Wil Myers. Myers is still red-hot with another 2-hit game. That is his 6th straight multi-hit game and his 8th in the last 9 games. Over that span, Myers is 18-36, raising his average from .247 to .322…2013 Tampa Bay Rays. This team is going to the playoffs. And while the playoffs are often a crap shoot, the Rays have the pitching to win it all. It’s time to get excited, folks.

THE BAD: Molina’s Sac Bunt. Why is Jose Molina trying a sacrifice bunt with nobody out and the Rays leading 3-0? Molina is not a good hitter, but he is not terrible against lefties. And he is so slow that any bunt hit in the direction of a fielder is going to be an easy double-play. To make it worse, it is the second time he has bunted into a double-play in a week.

THE TELLING: The Rays are now 60-42, a half-game behind the Red Sox and 3.5 games ahead of the Rangers for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Taylor Guerrieri, the Rays’ first-round pick in 2011 underwent Tommy John surgery. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews and Guerrieri is expected to miss at least part of next season.
  • Stuart Sternberg says St. Pete may soon allow the Rays to look for baseball sites in Tampa. [TampaBay.com]
  • Chris Archer makes Grantland’s list of the most exciting players in baseball. [Grantland]
  • Joe has everything you need to know from the Bucs’ training camp. [JoeBucsFan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

DURHAM 3, Gwinnett 1. Mike Montgomery struck out 6 and walked 1 in 5.2 shutout innings…Brandon Guyer went 2-3 with a walk and 3 stolen bases. His 22 steals are 7th in the IL.

Jacksonville @ MONTGOMERY. double-header postponed

Dunedin 8, CHARLOTTE 5. Feipe Rivero gave up 8 runs (7 earned) in 6.1 innings…Ryan Brett had a single, a double, and 2 stolen bases.

Great Lakes 5, BOWLING GREEN 1. Thomas Coyle had 2 hits and stole his 31st base.

Tri-City 4, HUDSON VALLEY 0.

Pulaski 7, PRINCETON 2.

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8 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    Remember in 2010 when Cliff Lee completely dominated the Rays in the playoffs? It was awful to be on the losing end of those games -- he was in the zone all the time, he had practically no walks and few deep counts; and he seemed to take him about 9 pitches to get through each inning.

    That's how it feels watching Price since he's been back from the DL. It boy does it feel better to be on the other side.

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  2. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Right now, Price looks as good as anyone I've ever watched.
    Escobar won't get it, but should be the AL Gold Glove SS.

    X-Rays:
    Scott Kazmir dominated in an 8-inning, 1 hit shutout performance for Cleveland while Garza put up a 7.1 inning, 5 hit, 1 unearned run night in his Rangers debut... good for them!

    Meanwhile, BJ Upton is batting .177 with 102 K's against supposedly lower-level NL pitching... eek!

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  3. Gus says:

    Someday I'll be very interested to learn what was going on with David Price in March-May 2013. The "triceps strain" came after weeks of saying nothing was wrong with his arm, but so-so velocity. It appears to me that the Rays just hit the re-set button with DP and got him going from the ground up -- almost as much a mental break as it was a physical break. Bringing him back against the toothless Astros was genius.

    As much as the continued use of Molina and Hernandez drives me crazy, I do think the management of this team by Maddon has been a work of art -- as good as Earl Weaver with the Orioles or anything LaRussa pulled off with the A's or Cardinals. In 2008, Maddon wasn't as confident and he was all over the place managerially speaking. The players are helping for sure -- having Price and Longo in their 27 year old seasons sure makes a manager look good, but his weaving in of Myers has been spot on, and getting Jennings figured out (people forget that this is his first year in CF), and the bullpen use is so much better than in 2008. Getting as much out of Escobar as they have gotten is really in Maddon's column as well.

    Still a ways to go, but if you fiigure last night is the last game in Fenway (until the playoffs) and the schedule eases up some in the second half, I really like where they are. Maddon may get to hold the WS trophy at the end of the year in 2013.

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  4. Scot says:

    Worth reading on DRaysBay: http://www.draysbay.com/2013/7/25/4556532/why-is-david-price-so-awesome-now

    Short answer, expect regression - pitchers do not maintain a .228 BABIP as Price has in July. However, and era at 3 would still be impressive.

    Other article to read on Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/david-price-gets-married-to-strike-zone/

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  5. Scot says:

    The Rays are PROBABLY going to make the playoffs. Winning the division is far more important given the wildcard structure (let's flip a coin.) I like BP's calculation of the probability of the Rays making the final 8 playoff teams, which stands at 65%. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/

    Pitching is NOT the deciding factor in winning the playoffs. Scoring more runs than the opponents is. As shown on page 238 of "Baseball Between the Numbers", any variation between expected success and observed when comparing teams of great pitching+average offence vs. teams of great offense+average pitching is not statistically significant. (In the table, it may look like great pitching helps in playoffs versus a great offense, but the effect is not statistically significant.) There does appear to be an unexpected boost by having a top bullpen.

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      But the bullpen is put in a position to make a significant difference based, in part, on how well/long the starters pitch.

      To say that better-than-average starting pitching is not statistically significant in the playoffs is too generalized of a statement, much like saying a player is a good/bad hitter based solely on BA.

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      • Scot says:

        My point was that great starting pitching does not assure playoff wins. It takes 2 to tango. Score more runs than the opponents. Sounds too general, but there are many paths to this outcome.

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