Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yankees resume bullying the Rays

It looks like order is restored in the AL East.  The Rays are back to being the Yankees little brother.  A brother that's never going to be as tall. A brother that's never going to be as handsome. A brother that takes his bullying and doesn't lift a finger to stop.

That's how the Rays came across last night in what could've been their biggest game of the season. The Rays had no answer on the mound.  The Rays had now answer at the plate. And they didn't have the answer on defense.  They let the Yankees come into the Trop and push them around, just like they did the first 10 years of the Rays existence.

I understand that the Yankees are a great team.  They have great pitchers.  They have an incredible lineup.  But, really... would it be too much to ask for a little resistance? Maybe a close game.  Maybe a real battle.  The Rays seemed to fold early in this game and let the Yankees just cruise their way to a victory.  I know the season isn't over yet.  The Rays could win the next two games or put together a big win streak to get back in it. But, at least for last night, the Yankees took their place once again as the team who pushes the Rays around like a little brother.

Here are some things I noticed in last nights 11-4 loss to the Yankees:

  • Where are the bats?  I'm not sure who took the wind out of this lineup, but it's gone. Some may argue that AJ Burnett is a tough pitcher. I say he's not Roy Halladay... a guy the Rays have handled. 
  • Need some early life.  The Rays offense has been abysmal early in games since the All-Star break.  Last night was not exception.  In the 1st inning, after a BJ Upton strikeout, the Rays had the opportunity to pound on Burnett for a run after a walk and an error left Carl Crawford on 3rd. Longo struck out. Zobrist lined out. And the Yankees scored three in the top of the 2nd.
  • Game plans.  In my 10 things I'd like to see column yesterday, I claimed that I thought Joe Maddon was a better a manager than Joe Girardi.  I'll have to retract that a bit and say that Girardi definitely out managed Maddon last night.  It was obvious the Yankees had a plan to attack James Shields and they did it with precision.
  • James "Big Game" Shields, 1-7 versus the Yankees.  Much has been made about Shields like of run support, but in reality he's just not pitching that well.  He's consistantly inconsistant this year.  Giving up big innings here and there while looking great in other innings. In a game like that, the Rays need their #1 pitcher to step up... Shield didn't.
  • Grab momentum.  One thing the Rays were really good at last year was grabbing momentum when they got it.  Somewhere along the line, they've lost that skill. In the top of the 5th, Shields got Alex Rodriguez to strikeout looking.  And then Gabe Gross made a great play on a Hideki Matsui line drive to right.  The Rays could've grabbed on to those plays as a momentum shift and taken control in the bottom of the fifth.  Instead, the Rays go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth and the Yankees start the 6th off with back-to-back homers.
  • Yankees defense, a reminder of what was.  The Yankees didn't fail to notice how important defense was to the Rays run last year.  This year, the Yankees are using the Rays playbook to cut rallies short.  They made several plays to rob the Rays of hits. Hits that could've started rallies.  The Rays don't have that kind of defense this year. And, it shows.
  • Any better tonight? On paper, the Rays look like they're in for another long night tonight.  Scott Kazmir takes the mound. He hasn't won a game since coming off the disabled list.  He faces C.C. Sabithia, the Yankees hot ace lefty.  If the Rays have some resolve, tonight would be the time to break it out.

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