RAYS 4, Royals 3 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Jeremy Hellickson. It was good to see Hellboy back on the mound and he delivered exactly what we hoped for, pitching into the 5th inning and allowing just 1 run and walking just 1 batter…Brandon Guyer. With the Rays trailing 1-0 in the 6th and Ben Zobrist on first, Brandon Guyer hit what looked like a standard single to left-center, that he hustled into a double. Evan Longoria then followed with a beautiful opposite-field, 2-run single. Joe Maddon has been calling for his players to be more aggressive and it paid off last night…Jake McGee. It was shaky, but once again McGee closed the door and he did it with more than 3 outs. We speculated early that McGee would end up as the Rays’ unofficial closer even though Joe Maddon was saying closer-by-committee. Sure enough, in his first 11 appearances since Grant Balfour was demoted, McGee has 6 saves and pitched the 9th inning in 7 of those games. No other pitcher has more than 1 save during that stretch…Win Series. A win today would give the Rays 4 straight series wins. Joe Maddon always talks about winning series and there is a lot to that. Win every series and you are a 108-win team, so there is room for error. But if you can even out the series losses and the series wins that are sweeps and you can be a great team.
THE BAD: Logan Forsythe. OK, Forsythe hasn’t been bad. Quite the contrary. But what is bad is Yunel Escobar is returning as early as tomorrow. OK, that’s not bad either. But it is hard to ignore how well the Rays have played with Ben Zobrist at shortstop and Forsythe at second base. Forsythe was originally pegged as a utility player with time in the outfield. But his outfield glove was horrendous.
THE TELLING: Yunel Escobar played for Charlotte last night, going 1-4 in his first rehab start. He could be activated as early as Friday. Wil Myers could have his cast removed as early as Friday with a mid-August return. David DeJesus is hoping to return in early August…The Rays have now won 4 of 5, 9 of 11, and are 18-9 since June 11. They are 42-51, 9 games behind the Orioles (11 in the loss column). For the first time in a while, the Rays are actually closer to the Wild Card as they are just 8.5 games (10 in the loss column) behind the Mariners. This is good because for a while it looked like there would be no fall-back playoff spot this season even though there are now 2 Wild Card spots.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- A Florida-based NFL developmental league? Yes, please. [JoeBucsFan]
- DOWN ON THE FARM [boxscores] Alex Colome was roughed up for the second time in 3 starts as he gave up 6 runs (5 earned) in 4.2 innings with no strikeouts and 3 walks in Durham’s 7-4 loss. Left fielder Justin Christian hit his 7th home run. Mikie Mahtook went 2-4 with a strikeout…Right fielder Taylor Motter had 3 hits including his 6th and 7th home runs for Montgomery…2013 first-round pick Ryne Stanek gave up just 1 run in 6 innings with 3 Ks and 1 walk for Charlotte. Yunel Escobar went 1-4 in his first rehab start…Casey Gillaspie went 1-6 in Hudson Valley’s double-header.
MLB Network is now experimenting with a graphic that shows the position of the fielders. I would love to see this for Rays broadcasts. The dots even move in real-time so you can see when players even shift as the pitch is delivered.