Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beat Boston!

This morning I pulled myself out of the doldrums a little and sported my "Beat Boston" shirt from last year's playoffs. But for me, this series has lost a little bit of its luster after the Rays traded Scott Kazmir.  Tonight's game should've been the battle of lefties: Lester vs Kazmir.  Instead, the Rays subtracted from their team while the Red Sox shuffled their rotation and signed a veteran leader.

To be sure, the Rays playoff chances depend on a good showing the next three games.  Joe Maddon will tell you that it's only one game at a time, but in reality all these games count double. Andy Sonnanstine makes his triumphant return to the Trop where he's usually pitched well.  The Red Sox are red hot right now and the Rays are going to have their hands full slowing them down.

It's a big stage. Let's see if the Rays can still "Feel the Heat."

Here are some of the things I noticed in yesterday's 11-7 victory over Detroit.
  • Winning record on the road. Give the Rays credit for overcoming adversity and still getting a winning record for the road trip.  It's just too bad they let two of the games get away from them.  Those games could come back to haunt them down the stretch.
  • Lineup changes.  All year, Joe Maddon stuck with his "Vicious Circle" lineup regardless of slumps or match-ups. Over the last week or so Maddon's been more proactive in his lineup, moving guys all over the place with great success. Evan Longoria seems to be coming out of his slump a bit and Carlos Pena continues his tear.
  • "Big Game" James Shields and run support. No more whining about run support for James Shields. Getting a 6-run lead before your first pitch goes a long way into making up for past inadequacies.
  • Bartlett's Power. I just wanted to point out that Jason Bartlett has 12 homers this year. He had 1 last year.
  • Brian Shouse's effectiveness. No wonder Maddon didn't bring that guy in the other day to face Granderson, I can't remember the last time I saw him actually get somebody out.

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