Thank You, Gabe Kapler.
Kapler has taken a lot of grief this season, and it's mostly been justified. His .610 OPS isn't going to cut it in the long run. Kapler may still moved in some capacity at some point, but in his last three games he has been a big part of the Rays success.
In last Monday's game at the Yankees Kapler hit his first home run as a Ray, a game tying two run homer off of Andy Pettitte. It doesn't seem like much now because the Rays ended up losing that game, but at the time it was huge. Kapler had been hitless in his previous 6 games before facing Pettitte that night. Kapler's next game would be Friday night against the Nationals. The game was knotted up 3-3 in the 8th inning when right handed Kapler was inserted as a pinch hitter to face the lefty Ron Villone. After Nick Johnson somehow couldn't catch a foul ball that would have ended the inning, Kapler took the next pitch and drove it over the left field wall to give the Rays a 4-3 lead. After giving the Nationals an early 4-0 lead the Rays put runners on second and third with one out in the 4th inning. Kapler was next up and smacked a single into the left field scoring Pena and cutting into the Nationals lead. The Rays would add another run in the inning to make it a two run deficit. After a Gabe Gross walk in the 6th inning Kapler came to the plate as the tying run. Naturally, the Hebrew Hammer took a pitch and hooked it just over the short wall in left field, tying the game up at 4 runs a piece.
That's three home runs in his last three games. All of which have either tied the game or put the Rays ahead. Those three home runs don't totally wipe out his poor stats up to this point, but maybe they're an indication that he's heading in the right direct. Kapler has traditionally been a slow starter. His career OPS by month from April-June are .702, .735, .755. I'm not saying he's going to put up a .755 OPS this month, but it's not impossible. With the break out of Ben Zobrist and the steady production of players like Willy Aybar, Kapler's future with the Rays is uncertain This could all just be a mirage and Kapler could go back to hitting like he has so far this season, or it could potentially be the start of a hot streak. From all accounts Gabe Kapler seems like a fantastic guy(just ask friend of the site Jonah Keri) and I'd hate to see him get DFA'd. So for his sake, and the team's, I'm really hoping it's the latter.