...in which the Rays drop one they shoulda won.
Sorry this post is coming in late; I got a bit over-eager drowning my sorrows last night.
Once again, last night's was a frustrating game, and once again I present my Brooklyn-living, non-TV-having, bar-watching version of the Cheese and Whine format. It goes like this: good things Taste Great; bad things are less (ful)Filling; and random chatter is consumed as Pub Grub.
Also, again, if you read this and live around the NYC area, I'd love to have recommendations for better bars for game watching (I currently tend to go to the Turkey's Nest, which is fine but on the weekends often loud and full of hipsters).
Honestly, when watching the Rays lose to the boys from the Pink Hat Nation, it's hard to find something that nice to say. I mean, seriously, the only thing worse than watching the Red Sox in their red alternate jerseys is watching them beat the Rays in them. Anyhow, I suppose there were a couple of pearls to pull from tonight's generally swinish performance.
Carl Crawford: The guy just keeps going. He was 3-5 tonight, and was a homer away from the cycle. Add to that his 21st stolen base, two runs scored, some nice fielding, and an assist, well you've got yet another pretty nice performance from C.C. However, I have to make at least one complaint. C.C. is currently playing as a de facto leadoff hitter, and the two times he came up with RBI opportunities--first in the 7th, with a chance to get the Rays some momentum back, and finally in the 9th to end the game--he didn't even have particularly good at-bats.
Jason Bartlett: 3-4 with two doubles and an RBI, plus some nice glove-work. That RBI double in the 4th, which scorred Gross from 2nd, was impressive, and it seemed to surprise Pedroia when Bartlett came sliding past him. It's exciting to see Bartlett continuing to contribute.
James Shields through 5: In the early going, Shields looked good. Though he didn't have a 1,2,3 inning till the 5th, and that triple in the 2nd was alarming, Shields never really looked rattled or seemed in trouble.
James Shields in the 6th: It's not really fair to put him here, but he did fall apart in the 6th. It reminded me of a couple of years ago when he would lock it down for 6 or 7 and then hit a wall. It baffled me that Madden kept him in, though ultimately it didn't matter, because of the ineptitude of the...
Rays Bats: They came through early, with well-executed small-ball RBIs from Longoria, Pat the Burrell, and Bartlett, but were then inexcusably and inexplicably quieted, first by Penny, and then by Sox relievers. All told, the Rays were 2-13 with runners in scoring position. Not gonna beat the Sox that way, gents.
Melvin Upton: I really like Upton, but it's impossible to call him Bossman Junior till he proves himself once again worthy of the title. Not only did he ground out 6-3 three times tonight and get struck out looking. He also muffed a catchable--for him--ball in center field. This didn't necessarily change the game, but it didn't help either, as an out thereby became a baserunner. C'mon Melvin. Lets get it going.
Grant Balfour: After coming in to pitch a strong 7th, he gave up two in the 8th, thus sealing the Rays' fate. Then he had a bit of a meltdown in the dugout. Not good.
The Rays have another shot in just a few hours, so hopefully we can all put this game behind us. I wonder about a couple of things, though. First, how often do you think we'll see Michel Hernandez? He wasn't great last night, but he wasn't awful either. Navi, on the other hand, has been absolutely putrid, but might be coming out of it. Second, why not make Gross the regular right fielder for a while? I mean, on the one hand it might be true that his very good batting average over the past two weeks (.385?!) may be due to his being used correctly, against RHP but not LHP. That's fair enough, I suppose, but his OBP vs LHP this year is .667, and his OPS is 1.667. Now, that's in only 2 at-bats, but it makes me wonder about more. And can anyone complain about his defense? Third, and finally, is there any chance we can convince C.C. to bat leadoff? I know he doesn't want to, but as long as he's going to be a one-man offensive juggernaught when the bases are empty, he might as well do it with no outs.
Anyhow, let's hope Kaz comes out strong and the Rays hammer Lester into early submission today so we can all put this ugly mess behind us.