Friday, 30 May 2008

Net lag: Another series win

Texas Rangers 12 - Tampa Bay 6
Texas Rangers 3 - Tampa Bay 5

Just a quick note on games 2 and 3 of the Rangers series, as I was rather doing other things while I had the two games on, and while Tuesday's loss was very disappointing, Wednesday's was extrememly encouraging.

On Tuesday, Andy Sonnanstine made his second poor start in a row, giving up 7 runs, although only a couple of them were earned, after a rare error by Evan Longoria (on an admittedly tough play). The roll of the ball was off for Evan all night in fact, as a couple of times he let the ball go, almost certain it was going foul, only to see it straighten up and hit the bag at third. Homeruns from Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd gave the Rays a chance, but the game was put out of reach by - who else - Josh Hamilton, hitting a grand slam. He didn't have an outstanding series by any means, but I'm sure that that hit meant a lot to him. And as someone who has followed his struggles and his comeback, I'm pleased for him.

I was more pleased, however, about Wednesday's performance. Matt Garza was on the hill, and pretty much unstoppable in what must be his best outing for the Rays yet. He was perfect through the first three innings, gave up a couple of runs in the fourth, but then bounced back to stop the Rangers from there on in. He threw 8 innings and allowed just 4 hits while striking out a season-high ten.

The key inning for the Rays was a four-run fifth, in which two of our runs scored on bases-loaded walks. We drew 9 walks in total during the game, matching our season high. With a three-run lead, Troy Percival came in for the ninth, but with two outs felt the same tightness he experienced last week in Oakland, and left the game. Dan Wheeler came in, and after allowing one of the inherited runners to score, got the final out and the save thanks to a fantastic diving catch from BJ Upton.

The win kept us top of the pile in the East, but the bad news is that while scans have shown nothing serious, Perci has been placed on the DL. Its a pretty big blow, not just for his work on the mound (which has been excellent) but also because of his leadership. He should be back as soon as the 15 days are up however. To take his roster spot, the Rays have reinstated Willy Aybar from the DL. Its going to be interesting to see how he fits back in. To be honest I don't think he's needed, while he is solid enough, I don't want him taking playing time away from Evan at third, and as a utility backup Ben Zobrist is a better option, for while Aybar has more pop, Zobrist can play everywhere (he made the start in right on Wednesday) including shortstop. Its going to be interesting to see whether we keep the extra position player, or if another move is going to be made soon to fill Perci's spot in the 'pen.

Last night we started a four-game set with the White Sox, with Edwin Jackson on the hill. News on that will, I'm sure, follow soon!

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