Thursday, 24 April 2008

I blame the time difference...

Toronto Blue Jays 4 - Tampa Bay Rays 6

For those of you keeping score, its Thursday morning here as I write this, I don't know what happened in Wednesday's game yet, and this is about Tuesday's action which I watched last night. Confused? Welcome to the world of a baseball fan in Europe.

Still, I am never someone who lets being a day and a half late with my thoughts on something stop me, and so here is the Disney opener recap.

We won.

Not that that seemed particularly certain in the early going. James Shields still hasn't found the groove yet this season, and he struggled big-time early on. He wasn't helped by a particularly bad play in the second, on which both he and Hinske committed errors - and Hinske was somewhat fortunate not to be charged with two. Still he got out of the second only allowing the two unearned runs, and eventually settled into the game a bit more. His final line of 7IP, 6H, 4R (2ER), 2BB, 5Ks and the win is certainly respectable. Actually, its pretty good. He was relieved with perfect innings from the continually-impressive Dan Wheeler, and Troy Percival notching his second save of the season.

An even bigger help to Shields than the 'pen were the bats, and the bottom half of the order in particular. Evan Longoria got the Rays straight back on the board in the bottom of the second with his second homerun, a shot to straight away centre that just kept on carrying. That was followed by a double from Eric Hinske and an RBI-single from Dioner Navarro on his return from the DL. Hinske then tripled home Longoria in the fourth, and then scored himself on another seeing-eye single from Navvy. One out later, and Jason Bartlett drove him home to push the lead to 5-3. The Rays scoring was rounded off by a solo-shot from Hinske in the 6th.

Twelve hits in total for the Rays, and what was particularly nice was the fact that they were strung together, rather than spead out. Anyone keeping count will have noticed that by the 6th, Hinske had himself a double, a triple and a homer - unfortunately he struck out his last time up, so there was no cycle to put the cherry on what was an excellent day at the plate.

Transactions coming thick and fast now for the Rays - As I've already mentioned, Dioner Navarro returned from the DL (and went 3-4 with 2RBI). That meant designating for assignment Mike DiFelice, who I'm sure everyone is sad to let go. If he does clear waivers and go back to Durham, then I for one will not be worried if either of our catchers have problems or injuries later in the year.

Then we have the sad saga of Dan Johnson. If you remember he's the 1B/DH we claimed off of waivers from Oakland at the weekend. Well, he arrived on the bay on Monday, found himself locked out of the Trop when he went to get some hitting practice, was in uniform for the win on Tuesday, and then found himself designated for assignment on Wednesday. So long Dan, we hardly knew ye. Instigating that move was a trade on Tuesday, in which we sent a minor league pitcher to the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Gabe Gross. Now, I'm not entirely sure that we need another outfielder, but I do think that Gross is an upgrade over Nathan Haynes, who has done little to impress me so far this season. Either Haynes or, more likely, Justin Ruggiano will be sent down when Matt Garza comes off the DL (possibly Friday), setting up a likely Gross/Jonny Gomes platoon in rightfield, with Gross and Haynes backing up in centre as necessary.

Kaz also made another rehab start at Vero Beach yesterday, and will make one more at Durham before returning to the Rays, likely on May 3. Kaz and Garza returning is obviously going to mean that one of the current rotation will have to miss out, and at the moment its too close to call between Hammel, Jackson and Sonnanstine. My heart says that Jackson should stay, but my head says that its two years on, and he's still showing no signs of consistency. But we shall see.


RayBiscuits said...

Hey John!
You know anything about Gabe Gross? He's a guy who i havent researched yet, so im really excited to find out about our new player!


John said...

Hey RB, to be honest I know relatively little about Gabe Gross - I think he'll play mostly against right-handed pitching, and that he's a better hitter than Nathan Haynes. I understand too that he's pretty good defensively in all three outfield positions - but like you, I'm looking forward to seeing him in action for us!