Sunday, June 28, 2009

3rd Place and lovin' it

The Rays took a big step forward in their battle back into contention last night beating the Florida Marlins and at the same time catching the Toronto Blue Jays in the standings.  This weekend is setting up nicely for a big battle between the division rivals.  The Blue Jays got off to a hot start at the beginning of the season while the Rays were awfully cool.  Now, the roles are reversed and the Rays have the chance to correct on Monday. But, first the Rays have to get past the final game of interleague play and the Florida Marlins.

Here are some of the things I noticed in the Rays 3-2 victory:

  • Kazmir's return.  He's still not back to 2007 form, but wow, he looked a lot better last night than he had in awhile.  If Kaz can return to form, life will be good for the Rays and their fans. My favorite quote from Kazmir: "We have fans who have no idea how I can pitch. They think I'm an 89-90 mph guy with a horse (bleep) slider."  He's right. Some of the newer fans are going to see something really special if he gets his act together.
  • Team meeting.  As they said after the game, it wasn't their best celebration ever, but I sure enjoyed the team meeting after Willy Aybar's walk-off sac fly.  While it may not be the most exciting way to win a game, the fact that they battled and finished the Marlins off is a real good sign.
  • Killer Bullpen. Is it any coincidence that the Rays are playing much better now that the bullpen is lights out? These guys are making it easy to forget the early season struggles and J.P. Howell is really growing into a the 9th inning role.  Add Chad Bradford to the mix and the Rays will be breathing down the Red Sox necks in no time.
  • Pat the Bat Fail.  I was going to mention Pat Burrell's weight here, but a fellow twitter user advised that I shouldn't do that unless I'm willing to say it to his face.  Since I'm scared of him and his dog, I'll just point out the Marlins game plane in the 8th inning.  They actually walked Ben Zobrist with 2 outs to get to Pat the Bat.  I'm no expert, but that's a complete lack of respect... even more than me calling him fat.  How did Pat react to that disrespect? He struck out swinging, stranding 2 runners in a tie game.
  • Pat the Bat Fail, Part 2.  A Phillies blogger sent me a link about a discussion between Howard Stern and a porn star about her relationship with Pat the Bat.  Interesting.

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