Monday, July 20, 2009

Rays rolling right along

The Rays didn't waste any time making a statement about their intentions for the 2nd half. On Sunday, they finished off a sweep of the Royals in Kansas City.  All three games, the Rays came back late in the game and the bullpen shut the door. To be sure, the Royals aren't among baseball's elite... but, these are the types of series the Rays had trouble with earlier in the year. It was encouraging to see them take care of a team they were supposed to.

Now, the Rays face a four-game set against the White Sox in Chicago.  Earlier in the year, the White Sox used revenge as a motivation to take 3 of 4 from the Rays at the Trop.  Let's hope the pain of the division series loss has subsided a bit or the Rays understand that the White Sox are coming with guns blazing. Our old friend Ozzie Gullien spent a lot of time in the off-season figuring out ways to beat his old team. He's going to have plenty of tricks up his sleeve. 

Here are some things I noticed in the Rays 4-3 victory of the Kansas City Royals:

  • Matt Garza's control.  Our favorite spitting pitcher is going through some issues right now. He's having a little bit of a control problem and finds himself getting into jams. Yesterday, he was able to get out of the jams for the most part.  It's worth keeping an eye on, but I'm not too worried about him.
  • Squeezing the Royals. In a way, I saw a lot of the old "Devil Rays" in the Royals this weekend. They have some young talent, but they're really hobbled by a weak bullpen.  When Gabe Gross took a close 2-2 pitch for ball 3, I was reminded of what it was like when the Rays weren't baseball elite.  All the calls seem to go the other way.  Gross ended up walking in the winning run.
  • Scratching and clawing from behind.  The Rays did a good job yesterday of scratching and clawing their way back from behind. Earlier in the season when the Rays were behind late, it seemed they just waited for the long ball to bail them out.  Almost no consideration was given to moving the runner over, sacrificing and doing what it took to get the run across.  In the 8th, Crawford hustled out an infield single.  He got to 3rd on an errant pick-off throw.  Longo walked. Instead of striking out while swinging for the fences, Carlos Pena beat the shift and got a RBI single. That kind of at-bat has been noticeably absent late in Rays games all season.
  • JP Howell, "he-who-must-not-be-named-closer." How refreshing was it to see a guy come in the 9th inning for three consecutive games and shut the door with no drama whatsoever? Matty from St. Pete reminded me that the Royals traded JP Howell to the Rays for Joey Gathwright.  Howell is becoming the Rays stone-cold closer, while Gathwright is toiling in the Baltimore Orioles farm system and jumping over cars on You Tube.


Bud Light said...

Good story...
I missed the game because I had to work..but I heard the score...and played dumb when I got home and ask my wife (casual fan) "How did the Rays do" She said, "they won 4 to 3 but it should have been 10 to 3!"
Think there is a point there somewhere??

Michael_Rays Rev said...

It seemed to me the Rays were pretty lucky to get the 4 that they did. Gross seemed to look at strike 3 on his walk, ump gave it to him. They had trouble against the starter, much easier time against the bullpen.

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