Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rays starting to make some noise after 4th win in a row

In case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Rays have their first 4 game winning streak of the season. Not coincidentally, they're also 1 game over .500 for the 1st time since the beginning of the season. The great part of all this? They're doing it without 4 of their opening day starters, 3 of which are starting infielders. 

The Rays fourth win in a row was not pretty.  Errors, walks, blown leads could of easily lead to a New York Yankees win. But, the Rays were able to show their resiliency and gain a little ground on the New York Yankees.  

Here are some of the things I noticed:

  • No closer, no problem. Several Rays fans I know complained yesterday about the Rays lack of a closer. Look, I understand your frustrations. Yesterday's game was painful to watch in the bottom of the 9th.  It just felt like 4 runs were not enough.  We all wish the Rays had some guy that was almost automatic to run out their in games like this.  But, I will say this, having a guy like that didn't help the Yankees yesterday. For the 2nd time in a row, the Rays got to Mariano Riveria.  You can even take it further and read about Brad Lidge.  Remember him? He was the guy that shortened games for the Philadelphia Phillies last year.  My point is that finishing a game against a tough team in their park is never an easy task. Especially when you got guys like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeiria, and Alex Rodriguez to deal with.
  • Stepping up.  As I noted earlier, the Rays are on this win streak without most of their infield.  But, just like last year, bench guys and unknowns are stepping up to fill the void.  Ben Zobrist has turned himself into a quality everyday player.  There was some concern (mine) that Zorilla would not be able to keep it up playing every day.  But, he's really made a big case for everyday starter status.  Don't forget Willy Aybar.  The man with the great walk-up music continues stepping in for injured Rays.  He's not Evan Longoria, but he certainly can take a little of the pain away from not having him.
  • The man now known as Joe Dillionaire.  I love this guy.  He started as the "Player to be named later" in the Adam Kennedy deal to a guy that's has his own cult following (of course, it's a cult of one- me).  This guy has spent his career on the very fringes of major league baseball.  A nomadic existence in both geography and position on the field.  While Yankee fan was asking: Who's Joe Dillon? I was saying that's our secret weapon.
  • Pinkeye's Errors.  Dioner Navarro got the dubious distinction of making 3 costly errors yesterday.  Let's face it, this year's been tough on our pudgy Venezuelan catcher.  He's had trouble hitting. He's had trouble throwing.  He's had trouble catching.  He's even had trouble with his eye.  This time last year, he was putting together an All-Star season.  This year, he's making the "Greatness that is Michel Hernandez" look good.  All I can say is he needs to get it together soon.
  • Bossman Cometh.  Why not? Say what you want about B.J. Upton, his timing is impeccable.  He comes roaring out of his 2 month slump just when the Rays need him the most.  Now, can he keep it up when Longo and Bartlett come back.  Oh yeah, Bossman, thanks for taking time off my life when you almost misplayed the fly ball to end the game.
  • Injury report.  Longoria could be back in the lineup today. They're going to work him out this morning.  Pat the Bat Burrell is going to go through a minor league rehab stint and could be back on Friday.  Bartlett is scheduled to get of the DL on Wednesday, but reports are he won't be ready.
  • Thankful for Joe Maddon.  Every time the Rays have played the Yankees the past two years, I always find myself thankful the Rays got Maddon instead of Joe Girardi.  To me, it seems like Girardi is not nearly the manager Maddon is.  I credit most of that to experience.  To me, Maddon is the much more proactive manager taking chances where Girardi wouldn't.  That's in contrast to Girardi, who is much more of a reactive manager.


MikeD said...

I'm on the Marshal Dillon bandwagon too (gotta say I like Joe Dillonaire better as a handle) I was the only one to pick him on Rays Index Sunburst Player of the Game yesterday, and am expectantly waiting to see if the Prof gives him that honor. Just to toot my own horn a bit more, I was the only one to pick Joyce last Saturday or Sunday, and he got it. Just sayin' . . . following my gut, instead of the wisdom of the crowd, on those picks from now on.

Michael_Rays Rev said...

I'm going to have to keep an eye out on your picks. Who you got for today?

MikeD said...

I had Joyce. For today, I'm thinking Aybar, if he's playing, but I don't know yet - won't decide until Prof posts the SPOG

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