Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some thoughts on the Rays

A few thoughts about the Rays ...

1. They showed more life in Tuesday's 4-3 walk-off loss at Minnesota than in any of their other losses.

They came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. James Shields didn't implode after hitting a batter with the bases-loaded to force in the go-ahead run.

2. They still can't hit with runners in scoring position.

3. The bench is killing them.

4. You can't count on a pinch-hit home run from Ben Zobrist every night.

Speaking of Zorilla, why isn't he playing more?

Yes, manager Joe Maddon likes to move him around, and right now Zobrist is the only valuable part on the bench. He's also the only right fielder generating any offense.

Why not play him there while the team digs itself out of this funk? Can't hurt. Might help.

5. It's OK to win back-to-back games.

6. Was injured catcher Shawn Riggans that much a part of Matt Garza's success on the mound last season? Can't be, because the oft-injured Riggans wasn't around for the ALCS, and that's when Garza enjoyed his most success.

7. You know things aren't going well when Jeff Niemann is the stopper on the staff. Not that there is anything wrong with Niemann. It's just that he's doing a better job than Garza and Andy Sonnanstine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A leadoff homer that stands? Not that uncommon

Home runs by the first batter in the first inning are not all that unusual.

Heck, Gerald Williams homered for the then-Devil Rays on the first pitch of the 2000 season.

But a leadoff home run that stands in a 1-0 win?

Rare. But not as rare as you might think.

It has happened 22 times in baseball history, the most recent Thursday in Seattle when Ichiro Suzuki took James Shields deep for the lone run in the Mariners 1-0 victory against the Rays.

That info comes from David Vincent of the Society of American Baseball Research.

Stats Inc. did a little digging and found Ichiro's dinger was the first of its kind since Alfonso Soriano went yard against the Pirates in a 1-0 win May 9, 2007. Before that, it was Kaz Matsui of the Mets who beat the Diamondbacks May 12, 2004.

It's actually happened once before in Mariners history. Greg Briley beat the Twins with one swing July 19, 1992.

As former Rays manager and current Cubs skipper Lou Piniella would say, "How about that?"