Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No doubt, the Rays can still compete

Last night's game was a breath of fresh air. For nine innings, the Rays reminded us that they could hang with the New York Yankees and the $100 million infield. For nine innings, the Rays played defense like a team possessed.  They pitched. They played great defense. They got timely hits. They took advantage of the Yankees' mistakes.  They scored runs.  They played "Raysball."

If anything else, the Rays showed us that they're capable of playing with the Yankees.  They also showed us that they can beat the Yankees. Good pitching and good defense is what it takes. Now, the question is: Can they keep it up?  Can they play like this for the last 2 months of the season? Can they turn it around?  We'll see soon enough. But, for now, we know that the disparity between the two teams is not as big as Monday night's game suggested.

Here are some things I noticed in the Rays 6-2 victory of the New York Yankees:

  • Scotty Kazmir, welcome to 2009.  I've taken a lot of heat for my support of Kazmir. I understand he's had some difficulties this year, but it's still too early to write him off.  If anyone needs to know why, just rewind the DVR and watch last night's game.  Kazmir gave a performance that reminded us of his days in green.  He reminded us why, as early as last year, he was considered one of the best up-and-coming lefties in the Majors. He reminded us why fans of the "Devil Rays" would show up just to see him. He reminded us why Met fan gets a knot in their stomach when they see him. He reminded us why he was an All-Star last year and why he was the strikeout king in 2007.  Most of all, he reminded us that he's only 25 year-old... much too early to give up on.
  • Defense steps up.  In Monday night's game, the Yankees showed how effective their defense is now. Last night, the Rays made sure everyone knows where the true gloves are at. After the game, Joe Maddon pointed out that the Rays got good pitching and good defense and they won the game. It's not rocket science.
  • Getting early runs.  For the first time since the All-Star break, the Rays staked an early lead and held on for nine innings. It was a breath of fresh air from what we had been seeing.  It also seemed to give Kaz some momentum when he went back out to the mound.
  • Slump busters.  Carlos Pena's slump is getting so pronounced that his name is now being mentioned in trade rumors.  He does look sad up at the plate, but I'm sure Pena will figure out a way out of this slump soon enough.  When he does, the lineup becomes that much more dangerous.
  • Garza versus Joba.  I'd like to see the Rays starters put 2 good, quality starts together in a row. I'm sure Matt Garza is up to the task. If the Rays pitch and play defense like they did yesterday, the Yankees don't stand a chance.


Steven Pertle said...

I have to agree, pretty much right on target with everything you have said. Kazmir is way too young to give up on he can still be dominant, the only issue in the way there is his salary over the next two seasons.

As for Pena, there is no way this franchise could function without him. He's the gem of our infield and the obvious leader of this team along with CC. He can still make up for his hitting problems with that glove.

Michael Weber said...

As long as Pena gets hot at the right time, I'll be happy.

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