I know it doesn’t seem like it was close due to the final score but the Rays had opportunities and had even brought the score as close as 6-5. The BP couldn’t hold it there and the offense could not take advantage of the chances they had. So, let’s review…
Jeff Niemann had a tough outing and only lasted 3 innings giving up 5 ER (6 total runs). Jeff never looked comfortable and his ability to hit his location was absent. Jeff looked a bit tentative on the mound. Look this guy is 6’9” and can bring it – so bring it, be aggressive! Knock these guys on their tails pitching in then finesse something. You have got to use that fastball to setup your out pitch.
Lance Cormier did a GREAT job following Niemann and shutting down the Red Sox. Cormier went 2 innings giving up only 1 hit. Grant Balfour followed running into some trouble in the 6th inning. Balfour allowed 1 hit and 2 free passes to load the bases with only 1 out bringing Youkilis to the dish and Joe Maddon from the dugout. Brian Shouse was called on to clean up this mess and failed by allowing a 2 run 2B to Youkilis putting the Red Sox up 8-5. Shouse continued a poor outing by giving up a “no doubter” to Lowell in the top of the 7th. Shouse has got to be one of the most unimpressive pitchers I have ever seen. Not sure what the Rays saw in this guy or if they just grabbed him because he was a cheap lefty. Sure has not shown that he deserves a spot in this BP! Shouse walks in the 10th run forcing Maddon to go to the BP again because he couldn’t get the job done. Terrible! Joe Nelson struts in to save the day and record the last out of the 7th – thanks Joe! Nelson pitched an amazing 8th inning throwing only 14 pitches, 10 of them for strikes to record the 3 outs! To this point in the season Nelson has been the best signing of this year by far!
The Rays offense had responded nicely to Cormier’s 2 innings of work by scoring 1 in the 4th, Carlos Pena’s MLB leading 11th bomb, and 3 big runs in the 5th. The big blow once again came from Evan Longoria, otherwise known as Evan Almighty, a 2 run 2B with 2 outs. Pena followed with a free pass and Pat Burrell completed the scoring by lacing a 2B down the left field line scoring Longo.
The Rays blew a big opportunity to add a run or two in the 6th inning and creep closer. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out the top of the order, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford, gave away 2 easy outs to the Sox.
Dioner Navarro is struggling needless to say to this pointing the season. Look as a catcher I can live with a lack of offense but I cannot live with the horrible defense. Navi has absolutely been horrible blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out base stealers. To this point in this game they have 4 swiped bags and a 5th that would have been had the runner not tripped over his own feet. Look something has to give with Navi one way or another and the coaching staff needs to make that happen. He is currently a liability both offensively and defensively and it needs to get sorted sooner rather than later.
Speaking of defense, more errors tonight. Getting tired of adding these things up! Akinori Iwamura made his 4th error of the season on a ground ball that should have been automatic. Gabe Kapler also chipped in with his first error of the season. But, I’m going to tell you what I saw, Kapler made a throw to the plate that would have hit Navi in the chest on one bounce but Navi was standing behind the line rather than in front therefore the ball hit the runner and bounced away. This error might have been charged to Kapler but it was not his fault. There was also a ball that Ben Zobrist should have corralled for out at short but he bobbled it allowing the runner to reach base. Not sure why but the official scorer was in a forgiving mood and scored it an infield hit. NOT! These guys need to be out drilling daily until they can clean this up. You must have good pitching and good defense to win ala 2008. Good defense can snatch a few victories for “ok” pitching which is what we’ve had so far this season (aside from Garza’s last start) so let’s get this cleaned up!
The Rays will go for only their 2nd series victory tomorrow when they send James Shields to the mound. Let’s pack The Trop and give the Rays the “Dome Field” advantage they deserve! See you there!