Rays Diary  9/20/12


Congratulations!  Rays Win!  Rays Win!

The Rays won tonight in a thrilling comeback!  After”playing dead” for seven innings the team awoke in the eighth inning to score their first run in twenty four innings for their pitcher David Price.  Unfortunately, Price had exited early in the inning and his team’s dismal failure to scratch out even one run for their hero was extended to twenty three innings.  Finally, in the ninth inning, for the first time in the game, Matt Joyce tried to hit the ball up the middle instead of trying to homer.  Keppinger did the same, while Scott managed, somehow to advance the runners instead of striking out.  Pena, swinging almost level, tried and succeeded in hitting the ball up the middle instead of trying for a home run.  Pinch runner Thompson stole second, rookie Vogt walked and Jennings, not trying for a homer for a change, tied the game with another hit to center.  Finally, B.J. Upton trying to just hit the ball solidly to center, homered instead!  It was as if manager Joe Maddon and his personal choice for batting coach, D. Peter Principle, had suddenly “figured it out,” that is for at least one inning anyway.

The game tonight was, in some ways, a microcosm of the 2012 season.  The burning question that the admittedly brilliant, but apparently psychologically troubled Rays management keeps forgetting to ask is:  “What gives us the best chance to win?”  Instead they seem to ask: “What is the easiest way to win?”  Mr. Friedman, despite many brilliant moves as general manager, building and rebuilding the best pitching staff in baseball, continues to tilt at windmills with plastic bats as he bankrolls thousands of strikeouts, multitudes of walks and precious few base hits.  Year after year, he disdains productive “Punch and Judy” hitters, the kind he can depend on, for bargain basement home run hitters who come through in one out of six games.

Tonight, if I were David Price, I would see the truth.   For almost eight innings My manager did not care enough about me and my team to actually try to win the game.  He never asked that elusive question: “How can we best win the game?”   After a gift double in the second inning, no real effort was made to score the first run for Price in twenty innings!  No attempt was made to even advance the runner and Keppinger’s ground- out that should have scored Longoria, simply sent him to third where he was stranded.  In the fifth inning, after a one out walk, no attempt was made to advance the runner and Jennings’ subsequent single was wasted as B.J. left runners languishing at first and third.  The score was nothing-nothing and Price’s manager had failed his loyal pitcher once more, just as he has done for the previous one hundred forty nine games and five innings.  Congratulations on being consistent!

Finally, David Price weakened.  Knowing that his only chance for victory was probably a shutout, he tried to gain a few extra miles per hour on his pitches by “dropping down” slightly in his delivery.  After repeating the delivery a few times too many, Boston hitters tracked his pitches, which lacked sufficient depth, resulting in two runs.  Contributing to the runs was the inability of Molina, his catcher, to cover two pitches in the dirt that the quicker Gimenez and Lobaton routinely snare.  Again, did Molina represent the best chance to win this game?  David Price gave it “everything he had” for seven and a third innings.  Too bad his manager didn’t do the same.  I still don’t think he and batting coach Peter Principle “get it,” do you?

Al Finkelstein,  Never Say Die Fan  9/20/12