May 2012

On Drilling Pierzynski

Retaliation is a part of baseball, but retaliating against A.J. Pierzynski in the third inning of today’s game wasn’t the right time for the Rays to do so.

Pierzynski reigns as the Major League Baseball’s resident Bill Laimbeer–fans hate him unless he plays for their team, and he probably went a little over the line the way he went into Ben Zobrist’s ankle at second base Tuesday night.  So the Rays had to take action at some point, that’s just part of the game.  Only a tie ball game isn’t the time to do it.

Alex Cobb had just escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second without allowing any runs.  Luke Scott then tied the game at 1 with a solo home run.  Beaning Pierzynski in the helped fuel a two-run third.  And the way the Rays have been scoring runs lately, a two-run deficit is pretty tough to overcome.

The Rays don’t play the White Sox again until September. Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to shelve that message pitch until then?

–Bill Chastain

Matsui Official

Rays just made an official announcement that Hideki Matsui has been selected from Triple-A Durham and will wear No. 35 rather than No. 55, which he has worn throughout his career, but is worn by Matt Moore on the Rays.

Stephen Vogt was optioned to Durham in a corresponding move and Brandon Guyer was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

–Bill Chastain

Love Their Way, But Then Again…

There are a lot of things to love about this year’s Rays club.

They are fun to watch, full of enthusiasm, and they always seem to find a way to win as they did Wednesday afternoon when B.J. Upton doubled home Rich Thompson in the bottom of the 11th inning for a walk-off win.

But lurking in the background is the team’s abysmal defense.  That’s not a good thing when a team is built around pitching and defense.

The Rays made another error on Wednesday, giving them 41 on the season.  Elliot Johnson’s error occurred in the fifth inning and cost the Rays a run.  And while that error ultimately did not cost the Rays a win, it did prevent James Shields from chalking up win No. 7.  Joel Peralta surrendered a two-run homer in the eighth that would have made the score 4-3 rather than 4-4 had the run enabled by Johnson’s error not occurred.

Nobody on the team seems immune from the fielding funk going around.  The team’s Gold Glove winners are Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena.  Yes, Longoria is on the disabled list and surely his return will help the team in the field, right? I’m sure it will, but even Longoria had six errors in 23 games.  And Pena, who won the award in 2008 when he made just two errors, already has two this season.

I have no idea how this is all going to shake out for the team this season. But if the Rays don’t clean up their act in the field, and soon, otherwise they will not find their way to the postseason no matter how well they pitch or how much chemistry they have.

–Bill Chastain

Zobrist’s First Outfield Error

Ben Zobrist just made a throwing error from right field.  Believe it or not, that’s the first outfield error of his Major League career.

Until Tuesday night Zobrist had played 270 career games in the outfield.  According to Elias, this is the most errorless games in the outfield to start a Major League career since Oak/SF Darren Lewis played 392 errorless games from 1990-94.

–Bill Chastain

Badenhop Comes Through

Idle time inside a Major League clubhouse often leads baseball scribes to silliness, which is one of the many fun elements of the job.

Pan to Sunday afternoon.

Sam Fuld, who majored in economics at Stanford, was on Sunday’s Rays telecast wearing a bow tie and talking about complex baseball statistics. That fact led the pack of scribes to ponder the prospect of coming up with a new stat that could be added to the growing list of baseball stats already available.  After discussing the matter briefly, the idea was tabled.

Yesterday I approached the Rays’ other economics major, Burke Badenhop, who went to Bowling Green, about finding the elusive cutting edge stat.   Employing the intended spirit for request, the Rays reliever told me he would come up with something.  Fifteen or 20 minutes later, Badenhop handed me a note with the following written description of his newest stat he termed WTHR:

“Also known as ‘weather’, which is warning-track fly outs per home run. A measure of a player’s warning-track power.”

What do you think? Should this stat become something worthwhile to follow?

–Bill Chastain

Three Errors in an Inning

The Rays just tied a team record with three errors in one inning in the second; it has has happened six other times in team history.

The last time the Rays committed three errors in an inning was July 2, 2007 in the eighth inning at a game in Cleveland.

–Bill Chastain

Matusi News

Hideki Matsui will travel to Toronto this weekend to obtain his visa. Although nothing is confirmed, it is anticipated that sometime Tuesday he will arrive in Durham to begin playing for Triple-A Durham.

Due to the uncertainty of his arrival time, it is not known if he will play in the Bulls’ game that night.

Matsui, who recently a Minor League deal with the Rays on April 30, was 8-for-18 at extended Spring Training, including a home run on Saturday.

–Bill Chastain





Lobaton and Matsui latest

Catcher Jose Lobaton, who has been recovering from a right-shoulder problem, has moved on to Single-A Charlotte where he will begin a rehab assignment Saturday with the Stone Crabs.

Meanwhile, Hideki Matsui went 2-for-4 with a walk in an extended Spring Training game on Friday.  He also played left field.

–Bill Chastain