Monday, June 11, 2007

Rays Take Series Against the 'Fins Despite Bullpen

The Series against the Marlins could not have started any worse for the Devil Rays. After over an hour of a rain delay, BJ Upton came to the plate after Iwamura got out and went down with a strained Quad trying to beat out a infield single. Starting catcher Dioner Navarro would be carried off in a stretcher later in the game after taking a ball off the neck behind the plate. Finally, the Rays watched as the bullpen blew a six run lead, the second time in 4 days that the pen blew a huge league. The bullpen was so bad that the Rays turned to Josh Wilson, utility infield, to pitch the 8th inning and he actually was the best pitcher of the night for the Rays.

Lucky for the Rays their ace, Jaime Shields, took the mound on Saturday to steady the ship once again. Shields produced another gem going seven innings and only giving up two runs. Gary Glover, who has emerged as the only reliable option outside of Reyes in pen, pitched the 8th and 9th without giving up a run to hold the win for the Rays. Shields looked amazing as usual during the game and showed why he is the staff ace and why he should be an all-star. Shields has not had a start yet in which he left and the Rays were down in the game. If the Rays had a pen Shields could be 9-0 easily and maybe better.

The Rays sent rookie Andy Sonnanstine to the mound on Sunday to close out the series. Andy looked unhittable in his second career start and earned the win. At one point in the game Sonnanstine struck out seven batters in a row, which came only two shy of the American league record. Sonnanstine also helped out with his bat getting timely hits and driving in runs, not bad for a guy who has not seen an at bat since his Junior year in high school. Sonnanstine moved the ball in and out of the strike zone and was hitting his spots. If Sonny can continue to hit his spots and stay away from the center of the strike zone he will be a very effective pitcher.

The Rays are currently 4-2 on this nine game road trip with a three game series against the Rockies starting on Tuesday. The Rays could easily be 6-0 on the road trip right now if it wasn't for the bullpen. The bullpen blew a five run lead in the 9th against the Jays on Tuesday and than followed that up with blowing a six run lead on Friday. If the pen was half way decent the Rays could be fighting for a wild card spot this year, but since they forgot to address the bullpen we have to sit through this crap they call relief pitching. Hopefully the Rays front office is watching the same thing we are and realizing that they are not that far off. The Front Office finally solved the Jae Seo and Casey Fossum part of the rotation by calling up Howell and Sonnanstine, hopefully they will do the same with the bullpen.

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