Game Preview; Thursday (9/29) vs. Cleveland


Rays (67-91) at Cleveland (92-66)
7:05; Jacobs Field
FSN Florida

PITCHING MATCHUP:

LH Casey Fossum (8-11, 4.65)

LH C.C Sabathia (14-10, 4.20)

RAYS SWEEP THE INDIANS: WATCH IT HAPPEN!!!!!!!

KEYS TO THE GAME:
Hitters: Put the ball in play
Fossum: STOP HITTING PEOPLE!!!!!!

UPCOMING GAMES:
TOMORROW: vs. Orioles (Waechter)
SATURDAY: vs. Orioles (Hendrickson)
SUNDAY: vs. Orioles (Kazmir, most likely)

RAYS LINEUP:
SS Lugo
2B Green (he returns, doh!)
DH Cantu
1B Perez (lefty)
RF Huff (RF? Doh.)
LF Gomes (LF again? He really does hate us)
3B Gonzalez
C Hall
CF Hollins
NOT IN LINEUP: Crawford (not in again, is something up?)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!


Rays (67-91) at Cleveland (92-66)
7:05; Jacobs Field
FSN Florida

The Rays are making me a very happy man. As you read my post today, compare my self-serving focus on the $25 bet today, compared to two days ago, when it seemed next to impossible that I would win. But thanks to a beilliant performance by Seth "Big Red" McClung, and the Rays' offense finally finding a soft spot to punch through, the Rays walked away with yet another 1-0 win over Cliff Lee and the Indians.

With the win, the Rays knocked the Tribe out of the AL Central hunt, as the White Sox won today to clinch. That leaves the Wild Card as the Indians only hope. In that hunt, the Rays have done some denting as well. Despite losing two games the otherwise could have incapacitated their playoff hopes, the Red Sox have backed into a tie with Cleveland for a Wild Card, and both teams have key series vs. division leaders this weekend. It should be a great thing to watch this weekend, but let's help knock Cleveland out of the division hunt today, while winning $25 for me!

PITCHING MATCHUP:

LH Casey Fossum (8-11, 4.65)

LH C.C Sabathia (14-10, 4.20)

BREAKDOWN: The Rays try to complete their second sweep of the season in Cleveland today, and to do so they send out lefty Casey Fossum. Fossum was very shaky in his last start, getting a no decision Friday at Anaheim despite giving up five runs (four earned) in an eventual 7-5 loss. He surrendered five hits, one of which a home run, and did not sit a hitter down at the plate, though he also did not issue any free pass. That marked the first time this season, in the bullpen or in his 24 starts, that he had neither walked nor struck out anybody.

Oddly enough, Fossum has not started against the Indians this season despite the two teams having played a total of seven games. He was the only Rays hurler not to start in that four game home series, and that was probably just as well, considering how he sucked the rest of August. It has truly been a tale of the tape two months for Fossum, and the stats do the talking:

August-8.44 ERA, 22:16 K:BB, 2.25 HR/9
September-3.20 ERA, 17:8 K:BB, 1 HR

Think about that for a second. In August, Fossum surrendered a home run once every four innings. He has surrendered one total in just 6.2 less innings pitched. Meanwhile, August was the month in which Fossum pitched to the highest ERA, and on the flip side, September is the month with the least ERA. Fossum still has yet to win a road game since July 14th, and hopefully he can do so today in his final start for the Devil Rays this season.

Meanwhile, the Indians send out C.C Sabathia to the mound to take on Fossum. How do you get a pitcher to a 1.78 ERA in the season's final month? Well, in C.C Sabathia's case, either the playoff race has motivated him, or he has been following the Big Mac on a fishing line up to the rubber. Whatever it is obviously works, because Sabathia has pitched to a 1.78 ERA in the season's final month.

But there is good news, and it does not involve car insurance. Last time out against the Royals, Sabathia went five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits, including a home run and three walks. And that is odd, because he threw eight shutout innings with no walks and eight strikeouts in his previous start-against the Royals. Like Fossum, Sabathia's turn in the rotation has not seen the Rays this year, so he will be making his first start of the year against the Rays in what probably will be his final regular season start.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, we're sooooooooo close, let's close it out. You'd never know how much the person I am betting with has made fun of the Rays and the Tampa Bay area market, routinely calling them a Double A Team. And it would bring me great, great pleasure to turn the tables and send it in his direction. And how unlikely  was this to be a winning bet? It just would absolutely be the highlight of the year for me if the Rays were to win today. Now, I will digress after I get these last homerisms out. LET"S GO RAYS!!!!!! PLLLLLLEAAAAAAAASE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that we are through with that, what does everything mean? Well, starting with Sabathia, his HR rate, while not great, isn't exactly something to point to and say 'attack this'. And certainly neither is his about 2.5 K:BB. But the mission should be to put the ball in play against Sabathia, because for whatever reason, his opponents BABIP is an astronomical .440. But other than his minor problem with hitting batters (nothing compared to Fossum, though), I find nothing else to pinpoint. Sabathia is much better than his ERA suggests, and the Rays had better have a little bit of luck on their side today.

On the other side of the team, let's look at Casey Fossum. Take what you want from neither pitcher having faced either team this year, but Fossum has a few things he needs to rectify. First off, he has to stop hitting people. Secondly, the home runs need a little work. But overall, the hit batsman need to stop, as the home run issue is not THAT huge. He has a decent K:BB, over 2:1, but he cannot keep the ball from venturing into the batter's box, having hit 18 people, as many as home runs given up. If he can stop hitting people, his opponent's OBP might be more respectable, but as of now, most hitter with a .339 OBP would be satisfied.

RAYS SWEEP THE INDIANS: WATCH IT HAPPEN!!!!!!!

KEYS TO THE GAME:
Hitters: Put the ball in play
Fossum: STOP HITTING PEOPLE!!!!!!

UPCOMING GAMES:
TOMORROW: vs. Orioles (Waechter)
SATURDAY: vs. Orioles (Hendrickson)
SUNDAY: vs. Orioles (Kazmir, most likely)

RAYS LINEUP:
SS Lugo
2B Green (he returns, doh!)
DH Cantu
1B Perez (lefty)
RF Huff (RF? Doh.)
LF Gomes (LF again? He really does hate us)
3B Gonzalez
C Hall
CF Hollins
NOT IN LINEUP: Crawford (not in again, is something up?)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!

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