Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday's Rays Game

Back with John and Danny on good old TRN.

Bottom 1: Poor execution by the offense after Span lead off with a double. Punto popped up, Young grounded to the left side, and Morneau flew out to deep left.

Bottom 2: Monroe continues to get hits against righties. Kubel drew a 4-pitch walk. Good, aggressive base running by Monroe going to 3rd on Redmond's fly to right - even though he almost got thrown out. Buscher had a good, 9-pitch AB. He couldn't get out of the way of ball four up and in - it hit his bat for a foul ball. He struck out on the next pitch, and Kubel, who had been running on 4 straight 3-2 pitches, was thrown out at second.

Top 3: Great indication of how effective Livan can be against an aggressive lineup - he cruised through the first time through the Rays' order. However, once they started taking some pitches, they worked him for a huge 2-out rally, crushing 2 doubles and a single before he escaped. He threw 28 pitches in the inning.

Bottom 3: Everett lined a single to put the leadoff man on for the third inning in a row. Span grounded into a 4-6-3 DP. That'll teach him to swing at the first pitch. Blecch. Punto grounded out. Quick inning for Tampa.

Top 4: Perfect inning for Hernandez.

Bottom 4: After 2 quick outs, Monroe laced a 2-0 pitch for another single. Kubel flew out to the track in left.

Top 5: Glen Perkins pitching. He gave up a one-out infield single, stolen base, then a bloop single to left to score the run. Good job by the cutoff man to catch Aybar in a rundown and clear the bases. Gomes got the first ligit hit of the inning, a solid single to right. After a wild pitch, Perkins retired Hinske on a grounder to Punto.

Bottom 5: Another quick inning for James Shields.

Top 6: Perkins helped out by a nice defensive play by Buscher, who knocked down a one-hop liner, then recovered in time to throw out the runner. Navarro went down and yanked an off-speed pitch for a solo homer down the left field line.

Bottom 6: Birkins pitching (LHP). Span grounded out on the 0-1 pitch. Punto drew a 4-pitch walk, then Watkins pinch-ran. Young flew out to deep right center. Morneau drew a 9-pitch walk. Monroe struck out on 3 pitches.

Top 7: Nathan pitched a perfect inning.

Bottom 7: Another quick inning for the Rays.

Top 8: Rincon pitching. Rookie-of-the-Year candidate and 2006 #3 overall pick Evan Longoria greeted him with a homer to center. Rincon gave up a 2-out walk on a 3-2 pitch, but got the next guy on a come-backer.

Bottom 8: Everett picked up a bloop single to left on the 1-2 pitch. Pridie lined a single to right-center on the 1-0 pitch, sending pinch-runner Tolbert to 3rd. Watkins lined out to 2nd. Jones took a called third strike. Basak looped an RBI single to right, then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Knott took a called third strike on the 3-2 pitch.

Top 9: Mariano Gomez pitching. He gave up a line drive single, then a one-out, no-doubter home run.

Bottom 9: Perfect inning for 2007 #1 overall pick David Price.

This game illustrates how bad the Twins can be when they don't do the little things right. They need to work counts, advance runners when the leadoff guy gets on, just generally have productive ABs. If everybody's going to hack at the first or second pitch, I don't see the Twins being very successful. I hope Span doesn't think he needs to play like Gomez in order to make the team - he's much better off continuing with the patient approach that resulted in his outstanding .450 OBP through the first couple weeks of games.

Decent game from Hernandez - if he keeps his ERA around 4.50, I'll be pretty happy. Perkins did better than his line would indicate - he only gave up a couple of hard-hit balls, and the homer he allowed sounded like it was more a credit to the hitter than a mistake by the pitcher.

This year should be the best Rays team ever. With Kazmir, Shields, and now Garza in their rotation, and a system full of top prospects ready to hit the big leagues in the next year or so, they should be a power in the AL East by 2010.

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