Saturday, 5 July 2008

"That all men are created equal..."

Well I hope that everybody on the other side of the pond had a very enjoyable Independence Day. Its not exactly something that is celebrated over here (I can't imagine why!!!), but I enjoy it, as it always gives me a good reason to re-read the Declaration of Independence, which in my mind is one of the finest written pieces of political text - of any text, in fact - ever produced.

Kansas City Royals 2 - Tampa Bay Rays 11

Still, whatever the Declaration says, it's demonstrated time and time again that, as far as baseball is concerned, all men are not created equal. In fact, some are just so unequal that it is almost ridiculous. Take Evan Longoria, for example. Last night he went 3-5 with a double, meaning that over the last 13 days, he has batted .438 with 4 homeruns and 15 RBI. That's almost not fair to other teams. Or take Carlos Pena, who has not been, it is fair to say, at his best this year. Well, he went 2-4 with a sacrifice fly and 5 RBI, 3 of which came on a homerun that can only be described as prodigious, striking half way up the batters eye restaurant in straight away centre.

Then there was CC, who went 3-5 with another stolen base; Dioner Navarro who went 2-4 raising his average back up to .315, and practically daring everyone not to pick him for the all-star game.

And there was Reid Brignac, just 22, who was called up (along with Ben Zobrist) after Jason Bartlett was placed on the DL with a sprained knee, sustained while stealing third in the series finale against Boston. It probably says something about how well Bartlett has played that we felt we had to bring up two shortstops to replace him, but... Brignac though, making his major league debut, didn't let the pressure get to him. He went 0-3 at the plate, with a walk and a run scored, but any doubts about whether he would be able to cut it were dispelled in the top of the first when he made another in what has been a long line of top quality Rays defensive plays this year. Taking a shovelled feed from Aki, he grabbed, spun 360-degrees, and fired a perfect throw down to first to complete the double play. Score one more for the farm system.

Far from a 4th July firework display, last night was much more about consistency and taking the opportunities that were presented. 11 runs on 12 hits is a pretty nice return, but with the exception of Pena's blast, it was more solid than spectacular. Still, after the intensity of the Red Sox series, it was encouraging to see that there was no let up as the Royals came to town. Lets hope it stays that way over the weekend.

Edwin Jackson on the hill had one of his better outings on the year, giving up just 2 runs on 4 hits over 8 excellent innings. He only struck out two, but seemed to have the confidence in his stuff to pitch to contact - a confidence that, along with his control, is all too often lacking. But it allowed him to easily go deeper into the game, something that can only be a good thing. Lets hope he can keep it that way next time out.

Tonight, Andy Sonnanstine takes the ball, looking to become just the third Ray ever to rack up 10 wins before the All-Star break. It won't be easy, as he's up against Zack Greinke, who, by the numbers at least, would appear to be one of Kansas City's better hurlers.

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