Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rays Round-up: Begin the Streak Edition

It starts with one game. Whether you are ending a losing streak or beginning a winning streak, it must start with one game. The Rays got the first half of the equation started last night with a dominating performance over the Seattle Mariners. They looked like the 2008 Rays last night with their foot firmly on the gas pedal. They made the Mariners look like they really didn't belong on the field with defending American League Champions and they didn't let up.  Now, they just need to do it again this evening because this win will seem so much better if it begins a streak.

Here are some things I noticed:

The Rays hitters got it going early.  Unlike the night before the Rays weren't content to just jump out to an early lead, they kept tacking on runs. They scored every inning but the 7th and 8th. That type of offense is the sign of a great team.  You never let the other team chip away at your lead.

Who's Edwin Jackson?  Jeff Niemann's performance was remarkable last night. He retired the 1st 12 batters he faced, and looked dominant doing it.  The only blip was a rough 5th inning in which he was tagged for a 3-run homer after an error and a walk.  Sonny better keep an eye on Niemann. If he keeps pitching like that, Maddon's going to be hard pressed to pull him out of the rotation for David Price.

Dioner Navarro's struggles continue at the plate. He went 0-5 last night and was unable to break his slumb.  But before I go too hard on Navi, I would like to say I saw some strong emotion coming from him after one of his early fly outs. He looked upset with himself.  That's what I like to see, guys holding themselves accountable.  Navi's an important part of the Vicious Circle line-up. His bat was a big reason behind the Ray's success last year and he's going to need to get his mojo back.

I'm now officially part of the Zorilla fan club. Last night was the first night I was able to watch a game and not say to myself, "Oh no, here comes one of the Gabes."  Zorilla is really playing himself into a full time right fielder.  Who would've guessed last year that the answer in RF was our starting shortstop from opening day 2007?

Here's a look at what people are saying in our Rays Round-up. As always, my comments are in italics.

Carlos Pena called a players-only meeting before the game to get the team on track. It's good to see Pena really taking control of the leadership position for the Rays.  Last year, guys like Hinske and Uncle Cliffy Floyd were there to run the clubhouse, but the Rays needed a guy who can assume the role for years to come.

Longo is an RBI machine.  They pointed out on last night's broadcast that Evan Longoria became the 3rd fasted active player to reach the 100 RBI mark. In typical Longo fashion, he didn't know he reached the mark.  Longo is still playing MVP caliber baseball.  He seems to be so unstoppable that the Mariners actually walked him to take their chances with Carlos Pena and Pat Burrell. That's respect.

The Seattle Times' Mariners Blog points out some of the Mariner's deficiencies last night.  I agree with this blog that Ken Griffey's time may be up.  I've been watching that guy play since I was in High School, but he looks like a shell of his former self.  He's really hurting that order in the number 3 spot. It may be time for Junior to let go.

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