THE GOOD: Evan Longoria. Dirtbag became just the second player to homer in each of his first 2 playoff at bats. The first player to accomplish this feat was Gary Gaetti. Coincidentally, Gaetti was Longoria’s hitting coach at triple-A Durham…The Bullpen (again). Grant Balfour came in with 1 out in the 7th inning and the bases loaded. He then proceeded to do what he does best. The Mad Australian struck out the next 2 batters, but not before apparently annoying Orlando Cabrera, who took exception to Balfour’s antics and kicked dirt towards the mound. JP Howell then took over in the 8th, striking out the first 2 batters he faced and retiring the side in order. Dan Wheeler started off shaky giving up a home run, but then settled down and got the next 3 batters for the save. 2.2 innings, 1 hit, no walks, 5 strike outs.

THE BAD: James Shields. He did get the win, but Shields is turning into a cliche. Give up a 2 or 3-run home run early. Scare the crap out of the fans. Then settle down and work into the 7th or 8th inning. Why “bad”? Because, if he keeps this up in the playoffs, he is going to give us an ulcer…Carlos Pena. Pena had to be removed from the game due to blurry vision after he apparently scratched his eye at home the night before. The Rays are saying that they expect him to be ready to go tomorrow.

THE TELLING: The most important games in a 5-game series are games 1 and 3. Now, all the Rays have to do is split the next 2 games with Scott Kazmir going at home and Matt Garza going in game 3 in Chicago. Earn at least a split in the next 2 and the Rays will be positioned to move on to the ALCS.


  • Buster Olney says that Joe Maddon has bullpen that can handle any situation. [ESPN]

History shows a closer-by-committee setup usually isn’t advisable. But the Rays’ committee is very good, and very deep.

  • For the playoffs, Todd Kalas has been relegated to the Party Deck above left field. [The Heater]
  • If the ALDS goes 5 games, Stuart Sternberg will not be attendance as Wednesday marks the first day of Yom Kippur. [New York Times]
  • Manny Stiles breaks down the playoff matchups. We are a little confused by the statement, “The Bears and Buccaneers both kinda suck this year.” Huh? The Bucs are 3-1. [armchair gm]
  • What would the Rays’ VH1 song be? Hugging Harold Reynolds says “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D…We are not sure the Rays have found love yet. How about “Owner of a lonely heart”. [Hugging Harold Reynolds]


  1. The Professor says:

    I forgot to mention that Longoria hit 2 home runs today and he DID NOT have a Mohawk. He had a freshly shaved skull

  2. Mark says:

    Seven Nation Army was played again...

    I tried singing it, but oh yeah... I'm tone deaf at baseball games and singing is not an advisable activity for me to do there...

    On a personal note, I saw myself on the jumbotron, and panicked because I couldn't find the camera, even though it was right in front of my face...


    How will the world ever find out that I know that I am McLovin, if they can't see the back of my customized shirt that says it on the back?!

    In conclusion, Grant Balfour... Is. A. BEAST!

  3. The Professor says:

    as per McLovin...

    Mark, we know. And in the end that is all that truly matters

    Beast indeed

  4. steve-o1285 says:

    One to add to GOOD:

    At one point (the exact time escapes me) during a tv break, the Rays played Seven Nation Army. Not only that, they placed several "oh's" on the screen to try and mimic that clip you've been posting...the crowd actually picked it up. For a few seconds, it sounded pretty damn impressive.

    I then thought to myself, "If only Cork could hear this." Your voice is being heard!

  5. Scot says:

    Good - very important game - Rays needed to win because the stakes were in their favor more than any other night - Right handed pitcher at home.
    Good - Longoria - MVP for Rays. Period.
    Good - Maddon - uses his saves his best reliever not for 9th, but when it counts - bases loaded with one out in the 7th.

    Bad - Me:Mr. Stats - end of the year data suggests Aki's mid year performance at 2b went down the tubes. Barrett may be overrated by Rays fans, but Longoria sure is not.

    Bad - Harold Reynolds...nice Mr. Six-pack guy, but lacking depth. Wait? This sounds like someone else that is frequently seen in the media!

    Telling - Rays batters - swinging at anything early on, they relax and return to being patient, forcing long pitching counts. That is a significantly rapid response and bodes well for the future.

  6. DirtbagFan says:

    I love Dirtbag as much as or mor ethan most, but i have a hard time considering him the team MVP when he was barely missed during his stint on the DL.
    I honestly thought that there would be a dramatic offensive and defensive drop-off in his absence, but Aybar filled Dirtbag's rather large shoes extremely well (no, i'm not implying that Aybar is on the same level as Longo).

    In my opinion an MVP is a player that the team can't survive without (or at the very least barely survives without)... the problem is that as we've seen all season, due to injuries, there isn't one player that they (the Rays) can't survive without. Its cliche, but its like the Patriots (gag, gag)... it is truly a team effort with no one piece playing a more important role than any other.

    (Even though if you forced me to vote my vote would go to Navi or Howell or Dirtbag or Pena... see what i mean?)

  7. Joe D. says:

    The Mad Australian, Sounds like another one to add too the Nicknames List. I Like it!

  8. The Professor says:


  9. Scot says:

    - Dirtbag

    "....In my opinion an MVP is a player that the team can't survive without (or at the very least barely survives without)... the problem is that as we've seen all season, due to injuries, there isn't one player that they (the Rays) can't survive without..."

    I think you hit it on the head and why the Rays are a better team than "experts" realize. If one examines the Rays bullpen and their bench going into the playoffs, one could argue in terms of depth, this is one of the top two teams of the final 8. The White Sox have a couple good relievers, but their bench is essentially Swisher and a not much else.

    "Even though if you forced me to vote my vote would go to Navi or Howell or Dirtbag or Pena... see what i mean?"

    Yes - I agree. there was no Arod or Manny for this team in 2008, but a significant number of above "replacement" level performers. (As opposed to giving thousands of plate appearances to crummy players in 2007.)

    I was really surprised how well Pena pulled himself up by the end of the season... And they still beat the White Sox without him.


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