THE GOOD: Scott Kazmir pitched 9 innings! Wait. What? Oh. That was the last 2 games combined. Nevermind…Playing like a champion. Yesterday was just one of those days that we expected the team to just roll over and die. A noon affair against a team the Rays have struggled against, with a lefty on the mound. No BJ Upton, who was benched for not running out a ground ball. No Carl Crawford. Jason Bartlett was limited to DH-dutym, which is the exact-opposite of his strength. And the Rays had plenty of opportunities, falling behind several times including 7-4 in the 9th. It would have been very easy to just hack away in the 9th and start packing for the west coast…Dwayne Staats. When Hinske doubled down the right field line to score the first run of the 9th inning, many play-by-play guys might have perked up a tad as if there was a small sign of life. Staats on the other hand matched the intensity of both the team and the crowd with an exuberant call. He got us back into a game that we had already given up on…Gabe Gross’ 2-strike, 2-run home run that tied the game in the 9th. We have seen some mammoth shots at The Trop, but we have never seen a line-drive home run travel farther than Gross’ home run, nearly hitting the back wall…And of course Carlos Pena, who now has 9 home runs in the last 30 games, after hitting only 5 in May and June combined.

THE BAD: Scott Kazmir (again)…Our managing skills. We wondered aloud if Troy Percival should be given a few non-save outings to get his legs back under him. After being called upon to pitch in the 9th inning yesterday with a 2-run deficit, and giving up run #7, we suddenly remembered how much we hate putting closers into non-save situations. We see it all the time, a closer has a certain intensity when trying to save a game, that they lose in other situations. It is as if they let up a bit…Rocco Baldelli will shave his beard once he is activated. We were growing attached to the Lumberjack look.

THE TELLING:Eric Hinske started in left, with Willy Aybar back at SS and Jason Bartlett at DH…Remember the Xavier Nady trade the Yankees pulled off with the Pirates in which most “experts” felt the Yankees robbed the Buccos? Not so fast. With Joba Chamberlain’s season in jeopardy as he goes to visit the Rays’ own Dr. James Andrews, Jeff Karstens who the Pirates acquired for Nady nearly threw a perfect game last night against the D-Backs and is unscored upon in 2 starts for the Pirates.


  • Outs Per Swing shows that Scott Kazmir has become more reliant on his fastball this season, moving away from his deadliest pitch, the slider. They show that his flyball rate has ballooned this season…We have heard it before from people more intelligent than us, but one of Kazmir’s biggest problems is that his fastball is usually up in the strikezone. As a lefty throwing in the mid-90s, it is still tough to hit. BUT, when the fastball is up in the zone, it is easier for a batter to make contact, which leads to more flyballs and many, many foul balls. And it is the foul balls that kill Kid K. Lots of pitchers throw balls and still get into the 6th and 7th innings. But throw balls and foul balls, and you have situations where a pitcher can’t get past the 5th inning on a regular basis. [Outs Per Swing]
  • The New York Times has a feature piece on Rocco Baldelli. [NYTimes]
  • Paul White of USA Today feels this 10-game roadtrip may “show if Rays are serious contenders.”…This is getting tiresome. The Rays have a 4-game lead in the loss-column over the Red Sox for the division lead and the Rays have a 6-game cushion in the loss column over the next team in the Wild Card (Twins). That means, if the Twins go 7-3 over the next 10 games, the Rays will only need 1 win to still be in the Wild Card lead. The Rays WILL still be contenders no matter what happens over the next 10 games. [USA Today]
  • Baseball Prospectus calculates that the Rays are playing above themselves. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Fans in the Tampa area care more about the Rays than the Brett Favre-to-Bucs hooplah? [My Fox Tampa Bay]


  1. Michael says:

    I was sitting about 20 rows behind the Rays bullpen during the 9th inning yesterday and the Gabe Gross home run DID hit the back wall, just underneath the auxilary scoreboard that shows the batter's stats. The guy in the back of the RF stands had to dig the ball out from behind the last row of seats. What a shot.

  2. Adrian says:

    Ya I was lined up perfectly with that ball out in right field but i was about 3 rows back. I was getting ready to catch it but that thing kept carrying and did hit the bottom of the back wall. Incredible game!

  3. Clayton says:

    What do we think about a Bartlett extension? I would like to know that I have him for another couple years. Arbitration eligible after this season, right?

  4. Matthew says:

    Bartlett's lock in until 2012. He has three arbitration years which means the Rays have the choice to keep him or not.

  5. The Professor says:

    calling Brignac an "untouchable" during trade talks spoke volumes. Brignac has made giant strides defensively and is now considered above-average and getting better all the time. He will never be Bartlett but he is certainly better than other SS that the Rays have thrown out there. Bartlett will still be the SS in '09, but i think some truth serum would reveal that the Rays hope Brignac is the starter in '10.

  6. Clayton says:

    While we're on the subject of future starters, who is playing CF in 2010? BJ just works here, so I can't see him not waiting and taking the biggest payday he can find.

  7. The Professor says:

    the obvious answer is Fernando Perez who is still learning how to switch-hit and yet he has a .350 OBP and 36 steals in triple-A to go with a ton of range and a solid glove in center.

    we could see Perez in right field next year, with a move to center later on.

    having said that, i am not sure he will be the guy. but i don't know who plan B is?? Maybe Desmond Jennings if he can ever stay healthy long enough to play an entire season. But we are still 2 years from knowing if he could even be a major leaguer.

  8. Clayton says:

    Just picked up Bradford from the O's. Wonder who is leaving us? Reyes or Hammel, I suppose.

    I agree that Perez is the obvious choice and I agree that I'm not sure about him. I'm not real high on Jennings. At what point might we try to deal Upton for another outfielder?

  9. Mark says:

    I was hoping Rocco wouldn't shave his beard at least until he plays one game with it.

    It would look like Dustin Diamond had a one-day contract with the Rays.


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