- Jeff Niemann. I know, it wasn't pretty, but here's the thing; remember last season when start after start we'd complain about Sonny being so darn hittable, but then Rays Index would remind us that all Sonny does is go out and win games, remember that? Well, its starting to look like Jeff Niemann is following the same path. You can't help but see the potentially nasty stuff he's got and thinking to yourself, "Man, he's close, real close", but the beauty of it is that while he's certainly not "there" he's still winning games. I'll take wins anyway I can gt them. Last night Jeff threw 94 pitches through 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up one run (a solo homer in the 6th) on 3 hits while striking-out 4 and walking 4.
- Joe Nelson. This cat isn't getting enough love. Nelson, a righty, came in to do the lefty specialist work and performed beautifully after inheriting 2 runners from Niemann; working 1 and 1/3 inning, striking-out 1 and allowing zero hits. That's an ideal hold (although I think it technically isn't a hold because the lead was more than 3 runs).
- Dan Wheeler. While I'm gushing love for the 'pen I better include Big Daddy Dan, who reminded me why exactly he was so valuable last season. Nothing spectacular, but his "stuff" looked real good while he worked 2/3's of an inning, striking-out 1.
- Jason Bartlett. JB continues to be an offensive force. Against his former team JB went 2 for 4 from the plate with a solo homer and 2 RBI.
- BJ Upton. How can this guy look like a gazelle while roaming CF, but look like a bull in a china cabinet when he's running the bases? I'm amazed at how unaware he looks on the basepaths. Upton ended a long hitless streak by hitting a single to RF only to be picked-off at first. He finished the day 1 for 5, and his average slipped to .160. Until further notice I'm calling you by your real name. Got it Melvin? Speaking of "notice", you're one more crappy game from hitting the "on-notice" list (see sidebar).
- Dioner Navarro. This kid better get his head in the game. Now! The story with a catcher is typically this: if you are good behind the plate then anything you produce offensively is just a bonus. I agree, but the problem is that Navi suddenly looks very lazy behind the plate and hasn't been good by any stretch of the imagination, so there's no way to justify his hitting .188 so far this season. I never thought I'd be sitting here wondering if Shawn Riggans was going to be ready to come back anytime soon, but apparently Navi needs a push.
- Last Season. Everyone is making comparisons to the slow start last season and pointing to the fact that this is the time that they got hot last year, so not to fret. Guess what, an eighth of the season has already been played, the Red Sox have won 723 consecutive games, and somehow, someway the Blue Jays are still leading the freakin' division while the Rays are sitting around whistling Dixie, so stick your "it happened this way last year" crap into your old Elijah Dukes bobble-head that you converted into a bowl and smoke it! I've heard enough.
- Carlos Pena leads the league in HR's with 9 and RBI with 24.
- Tonight the Rays face Francisco Liriano, a lefty who is 0-4 this season. The Rays have only managed 1 win v. LHP's so far this season.