Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who's the hottest team in baseball? The Rays, of course.

The Rays didn't waste any time last night establishing that they are, in fact, the hottest team in baseball right now.  Evan Longoria set the tone with a 1st inning homer and by the 2nd inning, the rout was on.  The Rays came into the game winners of 5 in a row, but they were facing a red-hot Colorado Rockies team that had won 11 in a row. Something had to give, and last night, it was the Rockies.

Things are looking up for the Rays now.  They're getting solid bullpen pitching at the same time their offense is getting healthy  This could be the streak we've been waiting all year for.  But, as I've said, they need to keep thinking just one game at a time.  The standings will take care of themselves.

Here are some things I noticed:

  • Rays look good playing at Coors Field.  I don't know how the rest of this series is going to turn out, but to me, it looked like the Rays looked real comfortable playing in Denver.  They knocked the ball out of the park 5 times and when they weren't doing that they were spraying triples, doubles, and singles all over the place.  Of course, the way the Rays were hitting last night, they may have looked good anywhere.
  • More strong bullpen.  I must admit. I was concerned when Joe Maddon went to Mr. Spock (Joe Nelson) in the 6th. I wasn't sure the Vulcan changeup would work so well at Coors Field.  Boy, was I wrong.  Nelson went out there and struck out three.  He was a very important bridge between Jeff Niemann and the back end of the bullpen.  He kept the Rockies at bay in a park where anything can happen.  Don't discount the bullpen's role in this streak.
  • Starting pitching. Jeff Niemann's start won't go down as one of his better performances, but he did do some things well. He was able to pitch out of a jam in the bottom of the 2nd, giving up only one run after the Rays had scored four.  After a big offensive inning, it's important for the pitcher not to give a bunch back.  Niemann was able to hold off a mini-rally from the Rockies to keep the rout on.
  • Gabe Kaplar's magic.  Can this guy do anything wrong? As early as last week, people were calling for his head when Matt Joyce was sent down to the minors.  He's responded by hitting homers in the four consecutive games.  He just missed hitting for the cycle last night with a double.  Credit Joe Maddon for sticking with him through the slump.  His performance last night was a good example of what he was brought in here to do: Kill lefties.
  • The curse of Steve Carlton lifted.  I'm going to officially declare the curse of Steve Carlton lifted. The Rays seem to be handling lefties as well as righties. As long as Kaplar's hot and Burrell gets it going, I don't think we'll see any more teams bringing up minor league lefties to face the Rays.
  • Jason Bartlett doesn't let us forget he's back.  So far this year, we've seen some guys come back from injury start real slow (namely Longoria).  But, our shortstop picked right up where he left off before the DL going 2 for 4 with an RBI.
  • Ben Zobrist love.  This guy is hands down is well on his way to owning this town.  The Zorilla love extends all over the country now as people are taking notice of the Rays new starting 2nd baseman.  I hope his wife's agent figures out a way to market this into some CD sales.
  • No National League love.  The New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays all won their interleague games last night.  So, the Rays gained no ground.
  • Scott Kazmir, Charlotte Stone Crab. If you're so inclined, Kazmir is starting for the Charlotte Stone Crabs on a rehab stint tonight.  You'll want to make sure you're their early because he's scheduled to throw just 65 pitches.  Hopefully, we'll get to see some pictures.  Kazmir could return as early as next week.  That means the Rays are in for some tough decisions when it comes to the rotation.  I suspect either Sonnanstine or Kazmir could go to the bullpen, but I'm just not sure what the Rays are planning.
Don't forget to join me on twitter at  You'll get my real time Rays updates as they creep into my head (or I retweet from others).

There's still  time to get in on Father's day gifts.  You can check out my father's day post for great ideas.

Post your comments

Post a Comment

Rays Revolutionary treated by Truly Nolen © Layout By Hugo Meira.