Thursday, June 4, 2009

So Far, So good, So What?

Great pitching. Big Hits. Good defense. An overall great game for the Tampa Bay Rays last night. Jeff Niemann solidified his spot in the rotation with a 2 hit, complete game shutout of the Kansas City Royals.  Ben Zobrist put the exclamation point on the night with his 4th career grand slam, his second so far this season.  

But, and there is a but... I say: So what?

We've seen this before this year.  The Rays come out and dominate a team only to have a let down the next day. It started with the home opener against the New York Yankees in April. Remember how the Rays pounded the Bronx Bombers 15-5... only to get smacked around the next two games at home.  What about the 14-5 drubbing of the Boston Red Sox on May 9th, only to lose 3-4 the next day? Or a 13-4 blowout of Oakland on May 18th, followed up with a 4-1 loss the next day? Against the Marlins, the Rays won big twice on Friday and Saturday, but couldn't close the deal on Sunday... losing not only the game, but their starting 2nd baseman and shortstop.  

My point is that the Rays have to close the deal on the series if they want to climb back into this race.  There's no reason the Kansas City Royals should escape St. Petersburg with a win today. The Rays have a very favorable pitching match-up and the bats are real hot.  They need to take this game to keep their confidence going into the New Yankee Stadium this weekend.  

Here are some of the things I noticed from last night's game:

  • Niemann's mound presence. From the first inning, Niemann pitched like a man possessed. His improved mound presence really came through from the get-go.  For a man that's 6'9", mound presence can be a very good thing.
  • Zobrist's bat.  I don't think Zorilla liked how local boy Matt Joyce stole some of the Rays fans' love from him the night before. He did what any man in his position would do: He heard his wife's song and hit his 2nd grand slam of the year.  Try and outdo that, Mr. Local Boy Joyce.
  • Bossman's batting.  If he keeps this up, he'll be at .250 in not time.  Another sterling night for the leadoff man 2-4, 2 RBI's and a run scored.  
  • Longoria's Hammy.  Until I see Longo back on the field, I'm not going to believe any of the stuff he or Maddon are saying about his injury.  The Rays haven't been very forthcoming about injuries this year, and I don't think this is any different.  I wouldn't be surprised if he gets back in the lineup tomorrow or they put him on the disabled list.  It's been that kind of season. I won't relax until I see him at 3rd again.

Remember, you can still find some great gift ideas for the fathers in your life by going to our father's day gift post.  Also, you can follow me on Twitter where I post my breaking news and any other random Rays thought I have throughout the day.

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