Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garza's game or Pat's swing

Picture courtesy of Tom Topping, Director and Head Coach of Nike Team Florida Hoops

I'm not sure which was more exciting: The game Matt Garza pitched or Pat Burrell's 407 foot blast into left center.  Both were something Rays fans were looking for after Tuesday night's game. Burrell's homer gave Garza all the ammunition he would need to finish off the world champions, 7-1. Tonight's the final game of the 3 game World Series rematch.  

The Rays can stay on track with a win as they prepare for a weekend series against the Marlins. Off the field, there's plenty of drama brewing.  The Rays have to figure out how they're going to get Scott Kazmir back in the rotation.  Plus, attendance has now become an issue for the first time this season as team president Matt Silverman's comment about this series gained more traction.

Here are some things I noticed:

  • Admiring Pat Burrell.  A couple of days ago, I said "nothing was more beautiful in Rays baseball" than watching B.J. Upton admire a home run. I may have to take that back. Pat the Bat's homer seemed to trump a Bossman homer last night.  Watching Pat the Bat actually do what he's paid for had a roaring affect on Rays fans.  The #Rays tag on twitter blew up and I personally got several text messages and a phone call. It seem there was plenty of excitement over that homer.
  • Just throw the dang fastball. Matt Garza says words from pitching coach Jim Hickey helped him get through the rough 4th inning.  He said he was relying too much on his breaking ball to avoid hits.  Hickey had to remind him what to do.  It worked. Garza got out of the inning without giving up a run.  When Garza's on, he's really got some filthy stuff.  The Rays need to get consistency out of him every start.  If he pitches like that every fifth day, the Rays will be back in the hunt even sooner than we thought.
  • Baserunning blunders.  The Rays seemed a little overly aggressive last night on the basepaths. Carl Crawford got thrown out trying to stretch a double in to a triple and Bossman got thrown out at the plate tagging on a fly ball.  Gabe Gross also got thrown out at third.  I don't think it's a real problem, but it was definitely noticeable last night.  I like the aggressiveness, as long as it's tempered with smart baserunning.
  • The crowd, Part deux.  The battle for a new stadium is taking on a whole new dimension.  The Rays finally took attendance frustrations public and the media and fans are picking up on it.  John Romano had an excellent column this morning on his thoughts.  10 connects reporter Preston Rudie did a story for the 11pm news last night.  Just remember fans, don't take it personally, it's all part of a PR war between St. Petersburg and the Rays.  Like any war, it's probably going to get bloody.  Until the Rays break ground on a new stadium, expect plenty more of this.  
  • Evan Longoria's Hammy.  Longo had to leave the game last night because of his hamstring.  I was a bit concerned at first, but after the game, Longo and Maddon seemed to believe it wasn't a big deal.  We'll see. Hamstring injuries are always a lingering problem.
  • Scott Kazmir, where do you go? When Andy Sonnanstine takes the mound tonight, it may be his last start for awhile. Kazmir is ready to get back in the rotation and someone's got to go.  The current consensus is that either Sonnanstine or Niemann will go to the bullpen.  Niether is expected to be sent down.  With all this drama, I really hope we get the 2006/2007 Kazmir in the rotation.

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