Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheese & Whine: Rays Play as NL Team, Win Anyway


In a daring move, the Tampa Bay Rays decided to play without a DH today and batted starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine 3rd instead of Evan Longoria. Seriously. How the !@#& did this happen? Somewhere along the line, the coaching staff screwed up the lineup card. Apparently, the Rays listed both Longoria and Zobrist at 3rd base. According to the rules, if an AL team lists two players for a single position, they lose their designated hitter. That meant Sonny would bat 3rd, the Dirtbag would ride pine untill called upon to pinch hit, and Zobrist would bat fifth and play the hot corner. The win today, and Sonny's RBI double in the 4th, made this an amusing mistake instead of a disaster. But it's still irritating.


Andy Sonanstine*: Sonny plowed through the Cleveland lineup in the first, third, and fourth innings before beginning to struggle in the sixth. Ultimately, he left the game with the lead in tact and stuck around long enough to become the pitcher of record. For a back-of-the-rotation starter, that's about what you're looking for. Also, Sonny helped himself out in the 4th by doubling in Michel Hernandez to make the score 7-3 in favor of the Rays.

Michel Hernandez: In addition to playing a solid backstop, Hernandez hit a bases-clearing double in the 4th (and would come around to score on Sonny's double). He ended the game 1-3 with a walk and three ribbies. Not bad at all.

Jason Bartlett: Boom-Boom Bartlett was 3-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. He also finished a dinger short of the cycle and stole 3rd. I love the fact that days like this from Bartlett almost feel routine, and that his defense is still steady even if it's not spectacular.


Joe Maddon: All's well that ends well, but the lineup card mixup is exactly the kind of lazy, hare-brained mistake for which a player would get benched. Maddon took responsibility and offered an apology after the game, which is the least he could do. I mean, Upton aplogized for dogging it on the basepads and in the field. I think there should be some kind of public punishment for Maddon, you know, to make an example of him, show that 100% is expected from everyone, and that we won't tolerate half-arsing at any level, regardless of the result. Maybe we could force him to wear the Raymond suit for a game.

*Andy Sonnanstine: In the second inning, Sonny seemed to be crusing. He sat the first 5 batters he faced. Then he gave up a double to David Dellucci, and it seemed like the wheels came off. Rays fans everywhere worried that we were about to witness one of Sonny's patented impossilbe-to-get-out-of innings, where the dangers of being a guy who doesn't have great stuff but also doesn't walk anybody are put on full and splendid display. After the double, Sonny walked Mark DeRosa, served up a three-run tater to Ben Francisco, and gave up another double, this time to Asdrubal Cabrera. Things looked bleak, on the verge of coming totally unhinged, but then Sonny got Jamey Carroll to ground out harmlessly 6-3 to end the inning. He was sharp for the next two innings, but then, in the 5th, things started to get ugly again. A leadoff homerun, again to Francisco, was followed by a 1 out triple by Carroll. Then, Sonny's pendulum swung back the other way, and though Carroll scored, he did so on a 4-3 groundout by .400-hitting Victor Martinez, which was followed by another ground out by Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning. Phew. Again, all's well that ends well, but watching Sonny on the mound makes my toes curl.

Evan Longoria: I'm not really down on Longoria, of course, but he deserves a little criticism for getting picked off at first with Peña batting to end the 6th. At the time, the outcome of the game was not at all clear, and it could have hurt the team to take the bat out of Peña's hands at that point.


C.C. made a nice diving catch to end the game today. Earlier, he made what would've been a spectacular catch at the wall, if he had, in fact, caught the ball. He did not. The ball clearly hits the wall and bounces up before Crawford gloves it. But the umps said otherwise, and the Rays caught a break. I'm going to remember this the next time I'm complaining about close calls never going the Rays' way.

Issringhausen has been activated and Pat the Apparently Injured has been moved to the 15-day DL, according to today's postgame Rays radio broadcast.

Happy birthday to Carlos Peña, who jumped up off the treatment table and ran out onto the field to join the scrum following Kerry Wood's bizarre attempt at plunking Upton. According to Maddon during his postgame radio interview, Wood threw at him as payback for Upton's steal of third a couple days ago. Whatever. It's nice to see how quickly the Rays come together over these things.

Taking 3-4 from Cleveland is a big deal, and it's exactly what the Rays should've done. They've got a 3-game streak going. Let's extend it!


- Dustin


Michael_Rays Rev said...

I'm saying it to anybody who will listen... Maddon needs to learn a lesson: No Tampa Bay Rays lineup card will ever be complete without Evan Longoria as the starting 3rd baseman. The whole mix-up was because Maddon tried to get cute and give Longo a DH day. Forget it, Maddon! Longo is your starting 3rd baseman...EVERY DAY!

Dustin Fridkin said...

Yeah, I think that makes sense, though I get the idea of trying to rest the guy with Andy "Flyout" Sonnanstine. But you're right that the Rays are definitely in a better position to win any given game if Evan's manning the hot corner.

DirtbagFan said...

Giving guys days off here and there is fine if the team's rolling, but this team is yet to find its stride and probably won't until they can consistantly field the same lineup... they can rest after they've proven that they're no longer cellar-dwellers

Michael_Rays Rev said...

You don't rest a guy leading the league in RBI's and is only 23 years old... unless maybe you've got a 5 game lead with 4 to go.