The Rays spend the last 4 days beating up on the lowly Kansas City Royals. Well, except for that 1 game….you know that game, don’t you? That stellar pitching performance by SP James Shields was wasted by defensive mistakes and offensive break down. Aside from that it was a good series victory for the Rays and they gained some ground in the race for the AL East crown as the Bronx Bombers fell 3 out of 4 games to the Pale Hose of Chi-town. But, didn’t you expect us to beat up on the last place Royals? I certainly did.
The Rays will show us over the next 2 days what they’re made of, what intensity remains, what focus they have. They now have a chance to gain more ground as the Boston Red Sox show up for a short 2 game set. Look, at this point in the season if the Rays cannot come out like gang busters in their own hours for 2 games then I think it is safe to say the season will be in the bag. If they cannot step it up a notch now for 2 games and an off day on Thursday why would we think they could in September?
Manager Joe Maddon finally sat a few guys that have been underperforming all season long. BJ Upton, Pat Burrell and Dioner Navarro all had the day off while Gabe Kapler, Willy Aybar and Michel Hernandez got some game in. With BJ out of the lineup Jason Bartlett got the #1 hole FINALLY and went 3 for 4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, 1 free pass and was a HR short of the cycle. JB likes the lead off and has earned the opportunity through a season of being one of 2 of the most consistent hitters the Rays have had all season long (Carl Crawford being the other).
Slick Willy got the call at DH and blasted 2 HR’s – one from each side of the plate. Going 2 for 5 but having only 1 strike out proves once again that Willy is a contact guy. He will put the bat on the ball for productive outs when needed. The Rays need to find a way to unload Burrell’s big ass contract!
Hernandez had a nice day at the plate going 2 for 3 with a free pass, 2 runs scored and an RBI. But most importantly no passed balls and no wild pitches. This guy is the defensive answer at backstop for the Rays the remainder of the season. The pitchers seem to like throwing to him and he is always in the game.
I wouldn’t mind so much bringing BJ back to the lineup as I know how important defensively he is BUT he needs to trade places with JB period. There is no question this is the right move. Compare these numbers and make the right choice Joe!
.244 BA .337
.318 OBP .387
.373 SLG% .521
114 K 54
Tonight starts the test phase of the season for the Rays. Their will to win will be tested and on display over the next few games. I’ll be cheering for the Rays and hoping Joe makes the line up decisions that seem so abundantly clear to most Ray fans.