Friday, 16 May 2008

Getting used to the view

New York Yankees 2 - Tampa Bay Rays 1
New York Yankees 2 - Tampa Bay Rays 5

So it wasn't quite a sweep of the Yankees this week, but despite losing on Wednesday, last night's win makes it three straight days that the Rays have been looking down on the rest of the AL East. And you know what, I like the view.

So, it might not last. Who cares when you're playing such good baseball. And I'll tell you something for nothing - if the Rays actually start hitting, then we are going to be unstoppable.

Take Wednesday's game. One solitary run, on a seeing-eye single from Navvy (who's hitting .387 right now), but that was almost enough to beat the Yankees. Now how often can the Rays have said that over the years? Of course it helps to have James Shields on the hill. Unfortunately he couldn't manage a third-consecutive Trop shutout, but 9 times out of 10, 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs allowed and 6 strikeouts is going to get you the W. As it is, Shields slips to 4-3, albeit with a solid 3.05 ERA. Compare that with Wednesday's winning pitcher, Mike Mussina, who is 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA, and sometimes you feel there's no justice. Not that Mussina didn't deserve the win. He was outstanding.

Having watched that game as a warm-up, I moved on to yesterday's main event, Scotty K's third start of the season. And he started paying the team back for his new contract right away with a solid outing. Kaz still isn't quite at his sharpest, which, judging by the results yesterday, is very exciting indeed. He went 6 innings, gave up just 3 hits and no runs, striking out 3, and despite clearly not having his best stuff, really didn't give the Yankees much of a chance.

Following Kaz, Gary Glover was responsible for a rare bullpen-blip, giving up 2 runs in 2/3 of an inning - but the threat was soon shut down, by Trever Miller, Dan Wheeler (of course) and a tenth save of the season from Troy Percival.

The Rays themselves only managed 5 hits, but pieced at-bats together to tally five runs to earn the win. Aki Iwamura led off the game with a homerun, and later doubled and scored on a CC sacrifice-fly. He was joined having a two-hit day by Shawn Riggans, who was, thanks to Dioner Navarro's hot-hitting, making his first start behind the plate in over a week. He didn't waste any time either, lacing the first pitch he saw for a single, and then belting the second way over the fence in left for a two-run homer. Cliff Floyd went hitless for the first time since coming off the DL, and Ben Zobrist made his first appearance of the season, getting the start at short.

All of which gives us an AL-best 24-17 record going into interleague play tonight. To start, the Rays will be making their first ever visit to the new Busch Stadium to take on the Cardinals. Andy Sonnanstine is starting tonight, and, I have to say that as much as I would be looking forward to watching him, and the game in general, the real excitement is definitely getting to see the pitchers hit. Sonnanstine has a lot to live up to, having gone 2-5 last season to lead the Rays' pitchers at the plate.

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