The good: The Rays started the game well and had Butthead, urm…Burnett on the ropes early. The Rays scored four runs in the first two innings alone. Alex Cobb pitched really well, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with three strikeouts in six innings. Oh, and how refreshing was it to see a Rays catcher get on base on more than one occasion?
The bad and the ugly: The Rays (again) weren’t able to bring home base runners, stranding 10 in the first six innings. BJ Upton alone stranded six base runners over the course of two at bats with the bases were loaded. When will Upton realize that he doesn’t have to be the hero in every at bat? A solid base hit to the corners, even in one of those at bats, would have scored two runs solidifying the lead early, and potentially assuring a win. Upton may be the Rays RBI leader and leading home run hitter, but he doesn’t gather those home runs and RBI’s with enough consistency to make him a legitimate threat especially to a team like the Yankees.
The pen was not able to hold on to the lead, giving up two runs in the eighth inning and the winning run in the ninth. To that end, Madden made some infuriating moves by sending in Farnsworth, someone with experience in high pressure/high leverage situations, to pitch in the eighth and Torres (a rookie appearing in his first MLB game mind you) in the ninth. I understand the move, bringing Farnsworth in that is. However, he’s had multiple inning appearances on many occasions, why not send him out there again in the bottom of the ninth? What was Madden thinking by sending Torres in in such a high leverage situation? Couldn’t he have sent Torres in before Farnsworth?
Madden has made similar decisions prior to this game, decisions that have blown up in his face. Most notably, he brought in a fresh off of the DL JP Howell to pitch in a few high leverage situations before he got re acclimated to the pace of the game. Remember those appearances? You know, the ones that found Howell having a 13 and some change ERA? This isn’t a knock on Torres in the least. After all, he’s done well in AAA Durham, and I have to believe that he’ll prove to be an asset to the Rays. Knowing the importance of this series though, I personally would have put in someone with the experience of pitching in high leverage situations instead of sending in someone with no MLB experience to pitch against a veteran Yankees team who thrive in situations like the one they found themselves in last night.
The almost optimistic: If the Rays are going to make a serious push toward getting into the playoffs, they are going to NEED to treat these next three games at home like their post season hopes depends on it. After all, their post season hopes do depend on it.