Monday, June 29, 2009

10 Things I'd like to see: Rays vs Jays

Now we're getting down to business. After over 2 weeks of interleague play, the Rays can finally do some damage to the teams ahead of them on their own.  The good thing is that the Rays took advantage of interleague play to catch the Blue Jays and keep right up with the Red Sox and Yankees.  The Rays have 12 games left before the All-Star break: 6 at home and 6 on the road. Of those 12, the Rays have 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Over the next two weeks, the Rays have the opportunity to bury the Jays in 4th place in the AL East and turn their sites toward the New York Yankees.  That quest begins tonight in Toronto against one of the best starters in baseball Roy Halladay.

Last week the Rays did pretty good on my 10 things list.  They caught the Blue Jays, they continued their home dominance, Bossman stayed toasty, and the established a bullpen pecking order.  However, I'm still waiting to see Pat the Bat's streak that I've been hearing so much about.

Here are 10 things I'd like to see this week:

1. Rays Swagger.  Last year, the Rays were the new kids on the block in the AL East. Each night, they had to go out and prove that they weren't just a flukey team that got off to a good start. This year, it's about overcoming expectations.  The tough April start had many questioning the Rays run last year.  Now that they're starting to come back, it's time to see some of that swagger.  By swagger, I mean that feeling you get from watching a team that knows they're going to win.  We've seen what this team can do when they have that swagger, but we've also seen what they do when they don't have it.  They start pressing and making mistakes.

2. Show the Blue Jays who's boss.  Cito Gasten has really done a good job turning this Blue Jays team around since taking over last year.  They're a good team. But, are they as talented as the Rays? I don't think so.  I think the Jays strong start and the Rays slow start made it look like the Jays were for real. But, they've slowly been coming down to earth.  The Rays need to make sure they complete that fall to 4th and stick their foot on the Jays'  throats..  It's going to be tough on the road. I'd much rather see this series at the Trop.   

3.  Road Warriors.  Speaking of the road,  the Rays need to start getting that road record closer to .500.  As good as the Rays play at home, they need to start winning series on the road. They took a good step toward that by beating the New York Mets at Citi Field.  But, before that they dropped 2 of 3 to the Rockies and Yankees.  And don't forget about the forgettable Cleveland series at the end of May.  This week's slate of road games against the Blue Jays and Texas Rangers will not be easy.  But, the Rays need to really get it going on the road in order to make some headway in the division.

4.  No Lance Cormier. Nothing against the guy, he's actually been a real bright spot all year in the Rays bullpen.  However, I don't want to see Cormier.  Instead, I want to see the Rays starting pitchers to take it right to the late bullpen staff. No long relief.  Last year, it seemed like we'd go weeks without seeing Jason Hammel.  Let's got through a stretch until the All-Star break without the need for Cormier.

5. Pat's Streak.  I'm still waiting for Pat Burrell's hot streak. We've been hearing about it since the Rays signed him.  Joe Maddon even referenced getting Burrell hot.  Earlier in the season, other teams seemed concerned about Pat starting a streak.  Now, they're walking Ben Zobrist to get to Pat the Bat.  

6. More Toasty Upton. It seemed to work last week after Bossman's AL Player of the Week award. Let's try it again. I want to see Bossman continue his hot streak. He seems to be carrying this team right now.

7. Big bad Jason Bartlett.  Can this guy do anything wrong? Since coming over from Minnesota, he's been a man on a mission.  First, he took the Rays shortstop play to a never-seen-before level.  He's made it easier for Rays' starters to pitch to contact and taken away some of those "cheesy" hits that plagued the Rays in the past.  Now, he's become almost an unstoppable force at the late. He's consistantly driving in big runs, getting key hits, and making big hustle plays. He's become the true veteran leader on this team, showing day in and day out how to truly play baseball.

8.  Yankees in 3rd, Jays in 4th.  Later this week, the Jays and Yankees will face off at New Yankee Stadium in a 4 game set.  I would enjoy nothing more than watching those 2 battle for 3rd place behind the Rays and the Red Sox. It could easily happen.

9. No more attendance talk.  This one shouldn't really be a problem with the Rays on the road, but I really hate when Rays attendance talk makes it to the national level.  Matt Silverman got it all started with complaints about the attendance to the World Series rematch. However, it looks like Rays fans responded, coming out in full force over the weekend against the Florida Marlins. Of course, a Pat Benatar concert and a bobblehead giveaway didn't hurt anything.

10. No red caps on the 4th of July. I'm sure this probably a done deal, but I'd prefer not to see the Rays wear the red caps on Saturday.  The got pummelled last time they wore them and they look really bad. Please Rays don't do it!

Don't forget to buy some Rays gear for summer. has plenty of stuff to help you show off your pride.  Below are just some of the selections I'm looking at. Click on the link and find some Rays gear for you or the Rays fan in your life.

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