Rays break Pitching Duel for Win
We learned a few very valuable facts last night at the Trop.
It would take 264 million gallons of gasoline to fill the Trop, and people will go absolutely nuts for gas. The Rays and Hess Express gave out 23,706 $5 dollar gas cards last night. To top it all off, if you had known the above number, you could have won $1500. worth of liquid gold.
The second thing we found out, is that the Rays formula for winning still works. Simple plan of putting the bat on the ball, and transferring the ball from glove to glove can get you wins.
Simple actually, but recently simple seemed oh so hard and foreign to the team. But an injury replacement player gave the Rays their life support for another day.
Best thing about the bottom of the 7th inning, you can stretch out a bit and get ready for the Rays surge to a victory. Most nights we have not had to wait so late in a game for such drama, or have we?
There is something about the Rays and having 2 outs before we can get something going. And tonight was no different. After Cliff Floyd and Dioner Navarro posted out for the Rays, Eric Hinske drew one of three walks issued by Toronto starter A J Burnett last night.
This set the stage for Ben Zorbrist to come up and swing at the first pitch he saw last night, and deposit it in the rightfield stands for a 2-1 Rays lead. Before his homer, Zorbrist had gone 5-30 (.167) since coming back up for the Rays. Timely hits have been the life and death of the Rays this season. It was Zorbrist’s 4th homer of the year for the Rays.
Grant Balfour has been a huge clutch guy for the Rays since he came up from Durham on May 29th. He has appeared in 16 of 39 games since his call-up. Balfour last night earned his 4th save of the season and has now fanned 36 in 23.1 innings. Grant has fanned 36 of 87 ( 41.3 %) batters face this season.
Balfour had another perfect 9th inning to preserve the win for the Rays, who moved back into a tie with Boston for the lead in the AL East. With Boston playing the tough L A Angels, it is a chance for the Rays to pick up valuable games and wins.
Jame Shields won his first start of the second half to up his record to 8-6 for the Rays. Shields pitched 7 innings of 4-hit 1-run ball while throwing 105 pitches. Shields is now 5-0 lifetime against the Bluejays. Shields is also now 5-1 since he came off the suspension for the Boston brawl in June. He currently ranks 3rd in the AL with a 2.13 ERA at home.
Some people in the crowd were mumbling that Maddon should have let Shields finish the game, but Maddon has October in his foresight, and a rested Shields is a valuable commodity come playoff time. Also, Shields is the oldest starter on the Rays staff this season at a young 26 years of age.
By limiting his pitchers now, Maddon can orchestrate a manuver where his staff will not be going through a “Dead Arm” period come playoff time. This is a new concept in the Rays terminology sine we have never been in contention this late in a season.
With the pitchers only going a set number of pitches or innings, the staff will not be totally drained and fatiqued come the end of the regular season. Even with a expanded roster in September, experienced arms might be the key to the Rays getting the needed wins to push for a playoff berth and beyond.
So kudos to Joe and his staff for beginning to think like a team in contention and starting to conserve his young staff’s valuable assets.
The Rays have 2 of the top 5 guys to get caught stealing in the AL right now. B J Upton is number 1 with 11 CS, while Carl Crawford is sitting at 7 this year.
Last night, Carl Crawford did not even get time to settle in at first before he was caught in a rundown play between first and second base. A J Burnett caught Crawford shuffling his feet towrd second, and got him off balance enough to force him into a run down for an out. It almost looked like Crawford was looking at his shoetop right before Burnett threw the Ball to Lyle Overbay at first base.
Akinora Iwamura also was caught stealing ( 3 ) second in the 7th inning after a fantastic bunt single down the third baseline. Aki set a ball perfectly down the line at thrid that hugged and tugged the line, but stayed fair all the way to the bag. It was Aki’s 15th infield hit of the year.
Dioner Navarro went 1-2 last night with a double to deep left center in the 2nd inning. Navarro threw out Alex Rios trying to steal second in the 6th to end the inning for the Bluejays. Navarro is coming off a fantstic All Star game appearance where he had several key plays and threw out a base runner.
The Rays before the game reinstated pitcher Al Reyes to the roster. A roster move did not have to be made since the Rays sent Reid Brignac back to Durham after Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
With Evan Longoria (22), Dioner Navarro (24), and Scott Kazmir (24), the Rays became the first team since the 1986 NY Mets to have 3 players under the age of 24 on the All Star roster.
All 3 played significant roles in the AL’s 4-3, 15-inning win in Tuesday. Kazmir became the 7th youngest pitcher lifetime to win an All Star game. Longoria’s ground-rule double in the 8th inning was the first RBI by a rookie in an All Star game since Tom Tresh in 1962. Navarro contributed a outstanding throwe to second to throw out a NL runner, and also got a key single in the 15th inning for the AL.