Rays Throw Away Victory

I spent last night out at the first part of my 20 year high school reunion last night, but not the official reunion. Some of decided to throw our own reunion party at two different sports bars last night so while catching up with old friends and making new ones from a graduation class of 630, I got to catch glimpses of the Rays game. Unfortunately, I caught three glimpses: Sean Rodriguez’s throwing error allowing the first run to score, Garza’s throwing error, and Lyle Overbay’s double to drive in the winning run. Little did I know that just seeing those three plays allowed me to see the entire game.

Both Matt Garza and Brett Cecil pitched outstanding games and it was especially nice to watch Garza have that type of game coming off the frustrating effort against the Yankees last week. Garza allowed just four hits, walked nobody, was was saddled with the loss because of his and Rodriguez’s errors. That is the second time in three starts this week that the Rays’ offense has failed to provide any run support for a starting pitcher who did their part. In both cases, the club could scratch across just one run. The Rays got their run in the first and had another chance later in the contest with runners on first and second with nobody out but the ice cold Evan Longoria grounded in yet another double play. Longoria is hitting just .233 since the break and has driven in just eight runs; he hit .300/.381/.513 in the first half but just .233/.367/.384 so far after the break. The man looks tired and Joe Maddon needs to find a way to give him a day off here and there.

Other observations in bullet form as I have to run out and spend Day 2 of the reunion bash hosting a pool party:

  • The good and bad of B.J. Upton: He is hitting .246 while slugging .462 but he has just a .306 OBP because he has six walks compared to 26 strikeouts in 65 at bats. Over the last week, he’s at .321/.345/.643 so hopefully, he is heating up but the BB/K ratio stinks and is so unlike him.
  • Kelly Shoppach is not cutting it. In April and June, he hit .263/.391/.421 and showed a pulse at the plate. Nowadays, he is on life support as he has hit just .130/.245/.130 since July 1st with zero extra base hits and 18 strikeouts in 46 at bats. I’m hoping the club can somehow sneak a waiver wire acquisition of a catcher as they did last year with Gregg Zaun because I simply cannot watch Shoppach try to hit any longer.
  • Matt Joyce got the start against a lefty pitcher and went 0-3 with two strikeouts. The sample size is not large enough yet but Joyce has yet to reach base against a left-handed pitcher in seven at bats.
  • Willy Aybar – hitting .282/.370/.366 since July 1st with 11 RBI but hitting clean-up too often as he has not hit a home run since June 29th and for me, your number four hitter has to be a home run threat. This is where Carlos Pena will be missed until he comes back off the disabled list.
  • Gabe Kapler has to go. I hear nothing but great things about him from people and have been extremely impressed with him when I hear him on the radio and TV, but that is where he needs to go. He could replace Kevin Kennedy tomorrow and I would be the happiest person on the planet. Kapler now owns a .202/.284/.277 slash line on the season in 119 at bats and since  May 1st, that’s down to .196/.245/.250.  I know I don’t pull the purse strings but I would have Desmond Jennings up here, now. He could work around the outfield to give guys days off and despite his reverse splits this year, would be a better presence in the lineup than Kapler.
  • The club is 13-8 since the all-star break despite the fact they have hit just .233/.318/.390 as a team – that tells you just how good the starting pitching has been of late.

Other news and notes:

  • Tommy Rancel tells us what the Rays may do with Jacob McGee
  • R.J. Anderson says that when the Rays trade a starting pitcher, Matt Garza is likely going to be the guy they move. R.J. also reviews the starting pitchers abilities to get batters to chase pitches and swing and miss.
  • Fernando Perez and Rocco Baldelli appear to be on Twitter as @outfieldrambler and @roccoalthough. Perez, though, is still not 100% after his shoulder surgery last season, much like B.J. Upton was in 2009.
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About Jason Collette

Writer/Analyst
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