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

RAYS 7, Blue Jays 2 (boxscore)

THE GOOD: Big Tree. A very nice start to the season for Chris Archer who struck out 7 and walked 2 in 6 innings, giving up 2 runs. He seemed to have all of his pitches working and even looked to get stronger as the game went along. He hit 97 mph a couple of times early on, but was mostly 94-95. But later in the game he was 95-96 on a regular basis and got a lot of swing-and-misses with the slider (8)…Ryan Hanigan. The Rays’ new catcher is never going to wow anybody with his bat, but he showed last night that he is more than just a defensive catcher. In the second inning with two outs, Matt Joyce on second, and the team 0-forever with runners in scoring position, Hanigan fell behind 0-2 before he showed why he can be an OBP machine. He was patient and worked the count back to 3-2 before slapping a ball back up the middle to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. It was a gorgeous at bat…Desmond Jennings. Flash drove in the second run in the third inning with a double and later scored. But not before his beautiful slide at second base to avoid a tag (see above). You can see a GIF of the slide at this link.

THE BAD: David DeJesus. He was clearly favoring his foot as he ran the bases and it is easy to wonder if the injury is worse than he is willing to admit. When he was hit by the pitch, the ball caught the top of the foot and there is not a lot of padding in that area and there are a lot of fragile bones…Desmond Jennings. Jennings did miss a flyball in the game. The bad part was the landing on his dive. He appeared to come down hard on his left hip and was grimacing afterwards…Attendance. Yes, school is in session. Yes, it was a weeknight. Yes, it was the Blue Jays. Yes, attendance will be strong this weekend. Yes, St. Pete, corporate support, season tickets, hockey game, and everything else. But to draw just 9,531 is bad. Period. It was the smallest crowd since April, 2012 when the Rays drew just 9,458 against Seattle. Since the start of the 2008 season that was one of just 3 games with a crowd smaller than last night. The other 2 were against the Blue Jays.

THE TELLING: Brandon Gomes was used in the 7th inning with a 2-run lead. If that seems unusual, that’s because it is. It was the first time since 2011 that he was used in innings 7-9 with a lead of 3 or fewer runs suggesting he is going to get some more high-leverage outs this season…Sean Rodriguez was placed on the 3-day paternity leave list. His wife gave birth to their fourth child last night. He is expected back for tonight’s game. Vince Belnome was called up for Thursday’s game and arrived in the middle of the game. He was then optioned back to Durham after the game. It was his first call-up and will go down as one of the shortest big league stints ever, less than one game.

MINORS: [Boxscores] Last night was opening night for the Rays’ four full-season minor league affiliates. Kevin Kiermaier, Wilson Betemit, and Jerry Sands homered for the Bulls. Sands went 3-3. Nate Karns struggled with his control, walking 7 and striking out just 1 in 2.2 innings, giving up 6 runs (5 earned)…In double-A, Willie Argo hit a home run and made a spectacular catch (see below).

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Interestingly, the Rays have had “serious extension talks” with Yunel Escobar. Clearly Escobar has been a valuable member of the infield. But what does this say about the future of Hak-Ju Lee? Is he not healthy? Is his bat not big league caliber? Is he destined to play second base or center field? [Marc Topkin]
  • Here is a Q&A with Dick Vitale. The best quote is when asked if he gets tired of being hounded for autographs and photos at Rays games: “Are you serious? If they don’t recognize me I’ll put a sign on my back that says, ‘Hey, I’m Dickie V! Ask me for an autograph!’ ” [LostLetterman]
  • The “perfect beer” for the Tampa Bay Rays is apparently Green Bench Brewing Co’s Saison Banc Vert. I guess Cigar City Beer will have to wait until the team moves to Tampa. [Thrillist]
  • Here are the pro teams that sell the most expensive concession food and drinks. [BI Sports]
  • Sam Fuld is still making great catches in an A’s uniform. [@RaysIndex]

Rays prospect Willie Argo made a ridiculous catch at the wall in the season opener.

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12 Comments

  1. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Cork,

    What happened to the Prof who used to say it was pointless to beat the attendance drum everyday. What comes of this conversation?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I don’t drum it everyday. I bring it up when it is exceptionally or when it is exceptionally bad. The last two nights were exceptionally bad and can’t be ignored.

      • Geoff Peterson says:

        No need Cork, we’ll hear it in every ESPN highlight and from every NYY and Sox homer on TV or the web.

  2. Gus says:

    Interesting that Longoria broke out the slumpbusting Dave Parker shirt (Parker had the shirts made during a bad series against the Phillies and the Pirates bats woke up thereafter) for the interview on Intentional Talk and then he goes yard. Nice. The shirts may be the rally monkey for this year’s Rays team.

    The Rays are doing a nice job with everything but selling weeknight tickets (which are in most cities again a function of season ticket packages). They don’t seem to discount at all those games even though basic supply and demand tells you those night games are less valuable. Frustrating to be around.

  3. AJNO says:

    are you going to be able to post the links to the box scores of the minor league games again this year?

    thanks!

  4. Rob says:

    I wonder how Flex Packs are going to influence these games. If I bought a Flex Pack, I would most likely use those tickets for either a weekend game or one against a premier team during the week. I actually called the Rays to ask them if I could use the funds in my season ticket account for Flex Packs for that very reason (they said no). I have a partial season ticket package in which I wouldn’t likely buy a single game ticket for about 30-35%% of those games. If I had (3) 9-game Flex Packs instead, I would double up on some series instead, e.g. going to a Friday and Saturday game or a Saturday and Sunday game in the same series versus some random Tuesday game against the Blue Jays.

    If I were to guess, I would say we see a decrease in attendance at weeknight games and an increase on the weekends. The question I have is will the increase be more than the decrease or will it be a wash? My bet is we see a slight increase overall in attendance (~8-12%) from last year when it’s all said and done.

    • Gus says:

      I think you are 100% correct. You want people there on Tuesday or Wednesday? Then you have to market it. If the price is the same vs. the weekend and somebody is only going one game a week, of course they are going to go to the weekend. But it fits the bad stadium narrative that they are trying to promote if weekends are jammed and weeknights are empty. .

      On a positive note, the Trop has never been a more enjoyable place to watch a game. It took them 16 seasons, but the stadium looks really good on the inside and the outside (at least at ground level), is clean and comfortable.Now if we could only get turf that looked more like grass like they have at other venues (Astroturf brand looks streaky and too shiny).

  5. Dave L says:

    Did Heath Bell always carry that much weight? Some guys just get more solid with age but is it just me or does his weight look unhealthy?

    Maybe it’s irrelevant as much for a guy who only pitches one inning at a time and maybe he’s always looked like that and I am way off base that’s why I asking.

  6. paco says:

    Is it just me or is only a matter of time before jerry sands is a regular contributor? Dude has been crushing the ball all year.

  7. Gus says:

    Re Extending Escobar:

    He is either hurt, or has lost some range. He looked really heavy in Toronto series and didn;t get to several balls that looked like were in his range.

  8. Joe Dunn says:

    Doesn’t a local beer distributor own part of the Rays?? And dont they have exclusive control as to what flavors of beer are available.

    By the way, some of their choices are LAME. Shock Top is sooo yesterday.

    Also, when local media bitch about attendance…..do they think it will HELP get more people there?? It won’t.

    Glad to see Yunel under contract.

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