Tagged: Gabe Gross

Pizza and a Donut

Just wait, it’ll make sense in a minute….

The Rays were set up perfectly. 

All of the elements were there.

Big series win, wild card contenders in tight games.

The Rays were in an ideal position.

To fail.

Luckily our guys ignored all the warning signs and focused on playing the Raysball we are all used to, coming away with a dramatic win against the lowly Baltimore Orioles.

Whew!

—————————————————————

Pizza: The Pitching

The Rays’ pitchers put out a decent performance.  While they allowed 4 runs to score, they struck out 10 O’s and prevented the big inning from occurring.

The 10 Ks gave everybody in attendance a free pizza Wednesday.  It’s a promotion the Rays have going with a local furniture store and a well known pizza joint.

David Price looked both really good and really shakey. 

The Good: He struck out 5 and allowed only 2 runs.

The Shakey: He threw 102 pitches in only 5 innings.  His WHIP for the game was a balky 2.00 and he threw only 59 strikes in the game.

He did pitch well enough to earn his 6th win of the year (6-5), which is what the Rays need.  W’s are what will get them to October. 

The bullpen did a well-enough job.  They did permit 2 runs, but it could have been worse. 

Grant Balfour was a stud tonight.

JP Howell was just great in the 9th.  I know he gave up a hit and walked a guy, but he also struck out the side. 

For the last out of the game he made Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters look just silly with his breaking stuff.  He was dominant as always.

——————————————————

Donut: A Win is Worth Its Weight In Dough

 

Or is it D’oh!?

After every win Rays fans can go to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a free donut.  Not too bad.  I’ll be picking mine up tomorrow morning with a coffee on the way to work.  Deeelish!

The Rays have now put together a 3-game win streak.  They haven’t done that in a while.  In fact, the last 3-game win streak came about 2 weeks ago.  Then came more losing than winning.

With two more against the O’s you have to get kind of giddy about the Rays’ chances.  They might be able to sweep this squad heading into the HUGE weekend series against the Rangers

The wild card leading Rangers.

A collapse the next few days will ruin that, so let’s hope that Gregg Zaun’s pregame ear-drum rupturing music in the clubhouse will continue to keep our guys sharp (it’s a tradition Zaun started Sunday, and look what happened there!).

—————————————————

Just For Men

Rays manager Joe Maddon did something unthinkable for a dude before today’s game.

He dyed his hair.

Jet black.

He certainly looked younger, and maybe it rubbed off on oldie but goodie Pat Burrell because that old guy launched a ball that could have put a hole in a tin shed.

 

In fact, all of the Rays’ bats caught fire as BJ Upton and Gabe Gross also went deep.  The Rays pounded out their 5 runs on 12 hits and looked impressiving doing it.

Guess we should be glad Joe didn’t go for the “Touch of Gray” dye.  (Is that funny?  I don’t know what I meant by that, but it seemed to fit…)

————————————————

Overall, this was a great win.  The Rays could easily have let down against a far inferior team.  Instead they came out and put the pressure on the young O’s pitcher.

The Rays bats were alive.

The Rays pitchers were focused.

Pizza and Donuts for everybody!

Advertisements

Zaun Gone!

He deserved it.  The new 38-year-old catcher for the Rays got the pie in the fact he deserved after delivering an 8th inning PINCH HIT GRAND SLAM that put the game out of reach and allowed the Rays to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1.

Whew!

There were alot of elements that went into making this game a successful one for the home team, but the biggest moment had to come in that fateful 8th inning when Gregg Zaun almost non-chalantly took a Brandon League fastball over the right field wall.

And just like that, the Rays have won 2 in a row.

———————————————————–

Big 8th

The Rays went into the bottom of the 8th after watching one of the best 3rd Basemen in the league make a diving play on a hard hit ball from Rod Barajas

Evan Longoria must have gotten his guys fired up.

The Rays loaded the bases with one out against reliever Brandon League, whose split finger fastball and 96 mph heater were really getting the Rays’ hitters off stride.

Gabe Gross pinch hit with his robust .480 career average with the bases loaded (you read that right–I did a double take too!) and proceeded to strike out.

That brought up pinch hitter Zaun, who used to play with League when they were both with Toronto. 

Advantage Zaun.

The Rays’ new catcher worked the count full before uncoiling a very leisurely swing on an inside fastball and sending the ball out of the ballpark.

The Trop erupted! 

It was unbelievable.

You couldn’t tell anything special had happened by looking at Zaun’s face, though, as his placid countenance never changed throughout his jog around the bases and entrance to the raucous dugout.

It was something, though.  Maybe that spark a beleaguered team had been waiting for.

———————————————————–

BJ Beaned

The Blue Jays then hit BJ Upton, which caused a stir and invoked a warning from the home plate umpire.  Cito Gaston did not appreciate the quick trigger and came out to argue a little bit, but nobody was ejected.

Joe Maddon was also upset about the play and wanted to get in his 2 cents. 

It’ll be interesting to see if anybody remembers this HBP next week in Toronto when these two teams get back together.

———————————————————–

Garza Clutch

Matt Garza did not make things easy on himself today.  Not at all.

He went only 5 1/3 innings, throwing 103 pitches.  His line was solid:

         5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 7 K

However, he found himself in dire straits several times throughout the game.  He left 2 on in the 1st inning in which he threw 30 pitches.  He left the bases loaded in the 3rd.  And he left 2 on in the 4th. 

He was downright lucky he did not give up more than 1 run.  Lucky to be backed up by solid defenders, that is.

BJ Upton helped to keep the game scoreless in the 3rd when he uncorked a solid throw to home plate from center field on a sac fly that should have scored a run.  He also made a great throw to home that beat the runner, but did not get Blue Jay out because of a solid collision at home plate. 

Garza deserved the win, though.  Hopefully this will build his confidence for his next outing against the Texas Rangers.

———————————————————–

Weird Play at the Plate

As mentioned, Dioner Navarro got bulldozed by Lyle Overbay on a play at the plate in the 5th inning. 

Upton’s throw arrived just as Overbay did, and while the Rays catcher did not drop the ball, the collision allowed Overbay to score the run.

It was weird, though.

Usually you see catcher and runner collide and somebody go flying somewhere.

That didn’t happen.  Instead, the guys hit each other and neither one moved.  They just hit and stayed where they were, like both hit a brick wall.

These are during the big hit.

     

These are right after they hit.  It looks like Overbay is still sliding, but he’s just stunned on the ground, not moving.  Navi is stunned standing up, not moving. 

      

Navi was off balance just enough that he couldn’t reach down to make the tag.  Overbay, on his back, simply reached over and touched the plate for the safe call.

Navi then hobbled around a little bit.  He stayed in the game, but I’m a little worried.

Like I said, it was weird.

———————————————————–

Three Keys to the Game

1–Rays’ hitters have to get to this kid right away.  NOPE  The Rays only scored 1 run against the Toronto starter before he left the game.

2–Run, run, run.  NOPE  The Rays did not steal any bases in the game.  That was a big reason why the Blue Jays’ starter pitched so well.

3–Keep hitting.  YEP and NOPE  Only 2 doubles and 1 homer against 7 singles.  I wanted to see the Rays manufacture some runs today, but they scored 4/5 of their runs after a grand slam. 

1/2 out of 3=RAYS WIN?

WEIRD, BUT WE’LL TAKE IT!

———————————————————–

Wild Card Update

The Rays’ weekend was not only successful because they won the series against the Blue Jays.  It proved to be successful when looking at the thing foremost in the mind of all Rays players and all Rays fans.

WILD CARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

We picked up two games on the Red Sox!

However, with the Rangers leapfrogging the Sox for the wild card lead, we, in effect, picked up only 1 1/2 games.

Either way, we’ll take it!

Thanks to the Texas Rangers’ potent lineup, the Rays find themselves 3 games behind the Sox and 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers.

Looking ahead, the schedule seems to favor the Rays immenesely:

Rays: 3 games against the Orioles

Red Sox: 3 games with Toronto

Rangers: 4 games with Minnesota

If we are going to make a move, this is the week. 

———————————————————–

Final Thoughts

The Rays get a day off tomorrow before fighting with the Birds of Baltimore.

This was a nice series for our Boys in Blue.  Taking 2 of 3 after losing to the best pitcher in baseball is a nice way to get through a weekend. 

Now we have to see them do the same or better against the O’s.

TRayde News: Two Rays Fans Discuss the Possbilities

The MLB trade deadline will hit us this Friday, July 31st

It is a fun time of year as teams who think they are still in their respective races “buy” what they can while teams that are already looking ahead to 2010 (or 2011, 2012, 2013…) “sell” what they can to prepare.

We have already seen some interesting moves take place early in the trading season what with Matt Holliday moving from the West (A’s) to the Midwest (Cardinals), Rafael Betancourt going from low altitude (Cleveland) to way up in the air (Colorado), and Julio Lugo being lucky to go anywhere (Cardinals). 

Other than those deals nothing notable has really happened.

It is with all this in mind that Ginny at The Watercooler and Bob at More Cowbell are putting together the first (of many) co-posts where we will look at certain aspects surrounding our beloved Tampa Bay Rays.

First up, the trade deadline and which Rays players could/should move before Friday.

We are not really debating on whether or not something will happen with each of the players discussed.  We are Rays fans.  We know NOTHING is going to happen.

What we are doing is looking at the team’s needs, current player performance, and the potential for a move to occur.

It is pure fun.

More Cowbell and The Watercooler are putting on our General Manager’s hats to see if something can be done to help our guys reach October, and the World Series, for the second consecutive year.

So enjoy our hypothetical (and pathetic-al) attempt at doing a job we’re never ever going to have!

 

The Players

Dioner Navarro  C

2009 Stats:  .226   13 2B   5 HR   25 RBI   2 SB   266 AB

 

Keep or Cut?

I am sure Ginny will agree, this is a tough one.  Navi is one of the bigger fan favorites at the Trop.  He and his family have gone through alot during his time with the Rays and that has kind of bonded fan and catcher together.

Looking at it from a purely baseball point of view, though, I think that Dioner needs to go.  The Rays need to look into either moving him or finding somebody (Victor Martinez from the Indians?) to take his place.  His stats are some of the worst in the league for a catcher.

Navarro has had a roller coaster career with the Rays.  Two years ago he was brutal, hitting just .227 with a .286 OB%.  Terrible.  Last year he was a big reason why the Rays went to the playoffs, handling the staff well and hitting .295 with a .349 OB%. 

If we keep him it will be because he handles the staff’s pitchers deftly.  The Rays might also think that he’ll bounce back next year. 

CUT

See what Ginny thinks.

 

The Gabes: Gross and Kapler  RF

Gross 2009 Stats:  .271  11 2B   1 3B   5 HR   28 RBI   6 SB   177 AB

Kapler 2009 Stats: .250   13 2B  1 3B   4 HR    23 RBI   3 SB   124 AB

 

Keep or Cut?

These guys have worked in tandem to create a very effective platoon in right field for the Rays.  No doubt, you lose a little bit defensively when Gross is in the lineup, but you gain that much back with his bat.  Right now it is just the opposite with Kapler. 

I think that the rightfielder of the future for the Rays is already on the team.  I just don’t know who exactly that will be.  It might be Ben Zobrist, Fernando Perez, Desmond Jennings, or even BJ Upton himself (with one of the latter two taking center).  It will not be Gross or Kapler in 2010.

With that in mind, I think that either one is expendable.  I wouldn’t trade either one of them now, though, unless putting them in a package deal can land us another starter or a catcher.  Gross would probably fetch more on the open market than Kapler would.  But since Akinori Iwamura is hurt and Zobrist is playing well at 2B, I would keep them both.

KEEP BOTH (for now)

See what Ginny thinks.

 

Randy Choate or Brian Shouse    LH Relievers

Choate 2009 Stats:  0-0   2.25 ERA   4 SV   16 IP   15 K   5 BB   1.00 WHIP   .198 BAA

Shouse 2009 Stats: 1-1   3.77 ERA   0 SV   14.1 IP   9 K   3 BB   1.40 WHIP   .298 BAA 

 

Keep or Cut?

Choate has had an amazing year with the Rays.  His stats show how well he’s pitched and watching him in action backs them up.  His Batting Average Against is stellar.  When he is brought into a game to face a left-handed batter you can pretty much assume that Choate will get the out.  Lefties are hitting just .189 against him this year.  He is just the kind of guy that Joe Maddon loves.

However, we already have that guy in Brian Shouse.  Or do we?

Shouse’s numbers do not stack up with Choate’s at all.  He gets lefties out to a .235 clip, but righties are hitting .325 against him.  That pretty much means that Shouse is in for one batter and that is it.  Choate has made righties hit only .200 this year. 

I think that Choate is a keeper, but since we already have JP Howell, Shouse is now expendable.  I know that Maddon has said that he is excited about having a “toybox of lefties” in his bullpen, but 3 is a crowd.  Choate stays.  Shouse goes.

Choate: KEEP    Shouse:  CUT

See what Ginny thinks.

 

Andy Sonnanstine  RH Starter (currently at AAA Durham)

2009 Stats:  6-7   6.71 ERA   81.2 IP   50 K   22 BB   1.52 WHIP   .305 BAA

Starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine #21 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in Game Four of the ALDS during the 2008 MLB Playoffs at U.S. Cellular Field on October 6, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. 

Keep or Cut?

Sonny is doing very well with Durham (2-0, 3.35 ERA) since his demotion a few weeks ago.  However, as well as he is doing there is just about how horribly he did here.  Maddon kept waiting (as did we all) for Sonnanstine to turn it around, to turn into the guy we loved last year.  He was a great alternative to the flamethrowers already in the rotation, but when teams are hitting .305 off of you something has to give.  It did.  Andy’s at AAA.  

He needs to stay unless there is some great trade the Rays can pull off of which he is a part.  BUT, if the Rays are able to put him in a deal then we still have Wade Davis at AAA who can come up and be the next Sonny.   

KEEP, UNLESS THE DEAL IS GOOD THEN CUT

See what Ginny thinks.

 

Scott Kazmir  LH Starter

2009 Stats:  4-6   6.69 ERA   74 IP   58 K   40 BB   1.72 WHIP   .289 BAA

 

Keep or Cut?

Ahhhh, Kaz.  This guy was the golden child when he was acquired from the New York Mets a few years ago for nothing more than our ace at the time, Victor Zambrano.  It was such an amazing deal for the Rays and such a terrible deal for the Mets. 

It’s still a good deal for Tampa Bay as Kaz developed in the ace for several years and came up big in big games last season.  However, he has developed an inability to go past the 5th inning and recently has developed the inability to get guys out.  It is not a good sign for the team’s current #2 starter.  

He has quite a fan following (I know Ginny at The Watercooler is especially infatuated), but that is no reason to hang on to the guy.  When you look at his performance you see that he is improving here in the second half of the season but that his “improvement” is still worse than many #5 starters in the league.  Kaz is slotted to make $10 mill next year.  He says he signed the contract to give the Rays a “bargain” and ensure that he would be able to play out his contract in Tampa Bay. 

I say let him.  I know it sounds crazy, but this guy has talent.  It is just off a bit.  I have ranted and railed at how sick of his ineffectiveness I am, but he could come back next year and become the All Star he was last year.  He is one of the guys who got it all started here, and I respect that.  He wanted to stay with the Rays before they were good.  I doubly respect that.  I want nothing more than to see him return to form.  I’ll have to hope for that. 

KEEP

See what Ginny  thinks.

 

 

Wade Davis RH Starter (currently at Durham)

2009 Stats (at Durham):  8-6   3.22 ERA   114.2 IP   103 K   47 BB   1.29 WHIP   .229 BAA 

Keep or Cut?

I’ll be honest, I don’t know a great deal about the Rays’ top pitching prospect.  I know that when the Rays drafted him, Davis was supposed to be part of the new wave of Rays pitchers who would arrive in the majors and dominate.  He was supposed to team up with Jeff Nieman and Mitch Talbot to form the best homegrown 1-3 of any rotation in the league.  Nieman is here.  Talbot is hurt.  It’s Davis’ turn.

If the Rays make any deal for a substantial return (Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez anyone?) then Davis is more than likely going to have to be part of the package.  My gut says “do it.”  I believe in NOW in alot of ways, and this season is the NOW for the Rays.  Contracts are going to start kicking in soon and it won’t be long before the Rays and owner Stuart Sternberg have to dump some salary.  We’ve got to do it now.  If there is a way to make a deal for people who will get us to October this year, then do it.

I don’t know if that deal really exists.  If we get a pitcher, it will be for about 7-8 starts the rest of the season.  If we get a catcher, he’ll have to learn the staff and adjust his hitting to our stadium.  In the end, a deal for a pitcher and catcher might not help us as much as we might think.  And it would be stupid for a team with cash restrictions to give up an uber-talented and VERY cheap pitcher for that.   

KEEP

See what Ginny thinks

Nieman Was Dealin’; Rays Were Stealin’

This game was OVER.

Until it wasn’t.

Two nights in a row Bobby Jenks let the Rays have hope.  That is one night too many.  This team is built for the comeback, and boy did they.

———————————————————–

First, the Lineup

What was Joe Maddon thinking? 

(I KNOW it’s an old picture, but it fits don’t you think?) 

The Rays’ skipper put out a lineup that was missing two of its biggest hitters and filled in with bench players who do not get a whole lot of at bats.

And it worked!

To be honest, the Rays had mustered only 1 run on 4 hits up until the 9th inning.  And those Rays he put into the game were able to go only 1/9, the lone hit being a single. 

But Joe Dillon, Willy Aybar, and Gabe Kapler (LOVE that guy!) were able to help the defense and Jeff Nieman keep the game close until regulars Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Gabe Gross entered the game in the 9th.

In the 9th, all hell broke loose for the Rays–in a good way. 

———————————————————–

The Fateful 9th Inning

Bobby Jenks entered tonight’s game in the 9th in much the same way he entered last night’s game: he had a 1-run lead, but he was starting the inning fresh and clean.

The Rays entered the 9th inning in the same way too–LOOKING TO WIN THE BALL GAME.

He immediately gave up a rocket to Jason Bartlett

Nice, we have some speed on board.

Jenks then “plunked” Evan Longoria (it grazed his jersey and ended up hitting the umpire with more force than Evan).

Ok, now we’ve got a guy in scoring position.

Ben Zobrist, who was looking to extend his 10-game hitting streak, did just that with a rocket up the middle. 

But since it was a liner Bartlett had to stop to make sure it went through.  He could not get doubled off in the 9th.  So he didn’t score, but

Bags are loaded with Pat “the Bat” Burrell up. 

The fans were busy booing their closer when Burrell walked to force in the game tying run.

A dramatic moment that was lost on nobody sitting on my couch (um, me). 

Carlos Pena entered the game to hit for Willy Aybar and launched what looked like a patented high fly grand slam to left.  Instead, it turned into a sac fly double play (Burrell drew the throw as Longo scored). 

WE HAVE THE LEAD!

CC walked and promptly stole second to put runners at 2nd and 3rd.

That was when Jenks had had enough and ended the inning on a weak Gross groundball.

But the damage was done.

In typical Rays style!

Rays up 3-2.  Good times!

HappyDog.jpg image by sxy2385

JP Howell would enter in the bottom of the 9th to close things out.  He’s not officially the closer, but he has appeared in that capacity 4 of the last 5 games.  What else do we call him?

Our closer entered the game and did what he does best: SHUT.  THEM.  DOWN. 

The White Sox managed only a weak grounder up the middle and that was that.  Howell struck out 2 of the 3 batters he retired, all the while making sure pinch hitter Dwayne Wise wasn’t going to try to steal second. 

The fans booed.

Let ’em.

———————————————————–

Nieman the Dealin’ Demon

How’s that for a nickname? 

Jeff Nieman was amazing tonight.  He went 8 STRONG innings, walking NONE, giving up only 2 runs on 8 hits.  He threw only 100 pitches in this outing and earned his team-leading 9th win. 

This guy is making Andrew Friedman look like a genius for unloading Jason Hammel instead during spring training. 

The tall Texan intimidated batters, blowing them away with his 94+ mph fastball.  They couldn’t catch up to it.

Then he baffled the Sox hitters with his ankle-breaking curve.  Hitters could not figure him out.

Especially Alexei Ramirez and Scott Podsednik, who both struck out twice against the Rays’ 6’10” hurler.

This was an outing that helps guys like Nieman get out of the shadow of the other Rays super-rookie (David Price) and garner some attention for himself for Rookie of the Year honors.

He was that good.

———————————————————–

The Rays entered the game 15-19 against left handed pitching. 

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with their lineup being dominated by Sox Clayton Richard.

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with the dominant Bobby Jenks entering the 9th with a 1-run lead (and boy oh boy was he booed tonight–not too classy Sox fans).

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with two of their best players gettiing most of the night off.

But the Rays DID win. 

It was their best steal of the season.

In It Til the End: Rays Just Can’t Pull Off Another Comeback

Gawl-ee.  I HATE losing to the Sox.  White, Red, don’t care.  I hate it. 

The Rays and White Sox tried to give everybody in the crowd–and in my home–a heart attack tonight as their battle went right down to the wire. 

“Down to the wire” almost doesn’t do it justice.

The Rays battled throughout the entire game to get to within 1 run.  In the 9th, Bobby Jenks came on to close it out for the Sox.  He got two quick strikeouts and then couldn’t end it.

Three consecutive baserunners reached base, Pat Burrell via a walk, Willy Aybar with a hit to left, and Gabe Gross with a walk.

Jenks could not finish the game!

It was set up for another dramatic Rays victory!  One base hit from our next batter, one of our best batters in Jason Bartlett, would put the Rays up 5-4 and allow JP Howell to close the game for us. 

4 wins in a row were waiting for us.  Right there.

Jenks worked the count to 3-2.  Bartlett fouled off the 6th pitch.  The 7th pitch was wide of the plate.  It was going to be a tie game!!!

But Bartlett swung.

And he missed.

Darn.

What a game.

Meaningful baseball in Tampa Bay in July.  For two consecutive years  Wow.  What HAVE we been missing!?

————————————————-

The Pitchers

David Price was NOT the David Price we saw defeat Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays 11 days ago by allowing only 1 run in 6 innings while striking out 7 and walking 1.

This David Price went 6 innings, giving up 4 runs, walking 2, and striking out 6.  It was not a terrible performance, but it wasn’t enough to get the Rays the win.

He gave up three home runs to Paul Konerko (no, don’t worry, only one of them was fair) and a few dink and dunk hits here that led to his, and the Rays’, demise. 

 

He was “supported” by the long ball and little else.  The Rays hitters were only able to muster 3 runs, all via the deep fly.

Price was outpitched by the Sox Gavin Floyd.  He went 7 strong innings, striking out 7 Rays and giving up only 3 hits and 3 runs.  Floyd did the job the Rays needed Price to do.  He bent, but didn’t break. 

Price bent, and started to splinter a little bit.

The Rays bullpen did its usual amazing job, giving up no runs in the final 2 innings.  In their last 4 games the ‘pen has allowed only 1 run.  Not too bad.  This bullpen has certainly been a strength for the club, as it stands at the best in the Americna League and third best in the Majors. 

It’s a shame it is getting used so much.

One disturbing stat is that the Sox were able to get the leadoff man on in 6 of the 8 innings they hit.  Those types of numbers almost always lead to a fat L.

————————————————- 

The Hitters

The Rays were able to put together only 3 hits while Price was in the ballgame.  Granted, they were of the home run variety, but 3 hits in 6 innings is something for an opposing pitcher to be proud of, not hitters. 

Ben Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 10 games (way to go Ben!) with a dinger in the 2nd innings.  And boy did he hit it.

 

Carl Crawford put his own spin on the home run ball by slicing a ball deep into right field.  Scott Podsednik jumped the fence (guess he was trying to do his best Carl Crawford At The All Star Game impression) and the ball ricocheted back into center field. 

That’s all CC needed. 

He turned up the motors and raced around for his first inside-the-park home run since April of 2005.  In the dugout he was sweating buckets, but smiling nonetheless.

Our reigning Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria, rounded out the Rays’ scoring by simply LAUNCHING one into the left field seats.  The ball was high and got out of there in a hurry.  That made it 4-3 and gave all Rays fans hope that another comeback was on the way.

Alas, it was not to be.

————————————————- 

The Defense–or, WHY IS WILLY PLAYING 2ND BASE!?

Strangely, the defense was a big disappointment tonight.  Sure, all of the White Sox’s runs tonight were earned.  But the Rays had 3 errors, with Willy Aybar in the middle of them all.  Surely, part of the reason is that Willy was playing second base tonight.

In the 1st inning Scott Podednik stole second.  Michel Hernandez’s throw was a little bit in the dirt and skipped into center field.  Podsednik went to third base and eventually scored the game’s first run.

Where was the backup when the ball skipped by Jason Bartlett?  Willy was standing there, but he didn’t field the ball.  Hernandez got the error, but Aybar could have helped.

Early in the game Aybar couldn’t dig the ball out of his mitt to turn an important double play.  This allowed the Sox to score another run later in the inning.

In the 7th, Aybar outdid himself.

The situation was tense because Grant Balfour was trying to work out of a jam.  He got the ground ball he needed for the first out of the inning from Alexei Ramirez.  Aybar booted it.  Podsednik moved to third and suddenly the Rays had runners at the corners with nobody out.

The next batter was Jermaine Dye.  Balfour induced a foul ball fly from Dye, something that could be fielded for the 1st out of the inning.  Dye has been mashing the ball as of late, after all.  So this was a big play!

Willy overran it. 

Luckily, Dye struck out on the next pitch.  Balfour then got Konerko to ground into an inning-ending double play that Aybar WAS able to get out of his mitt.

For every Aybar mishap, though, there was Zobrist in right holding a runner at third on a fly ball because of his rifle arm and Longoria diving towards the third base line to snag a grounder and step on third to prevent another run from scoring.

Aybar did not do us any favors tonight, though.

————————————————-

Three Keys to the Game

Price’s pitch count and pace.  YEP/NOPE.  Price worked at a decent pace at the start of the game, but slowed considerably in the 2nd and 3rd innings.  That was when things got hairy and the pitch count mounted.  He was out by the end of the 6th.

Play Raysball–run, take pitches, scratch out runs.  NOPE.  The Rays played LONGball, with the White Sox actually taking a page out of the Rays handbook and running and scratching out runs.

Get to the bullpen early.  NOPEFloyd went 7 strong and then the Sox were able to turn it over to their effective setup guys (22 holds between them!) and closer (22 saves!).

2 1/2 out of 3 NOPES=Loss 

————————————————-

What a game.  You almost didn’t mind losing one like this because it was so entertaining! 

Almost.

The road will not get easier from here as the Rays take on three straight lefties in the next three games.  The Rays are 15-19 against lefties.

Nobody said it would be easy, did they?

(Happy Birthday Jen