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Solid performance

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I wasn't home most of the night but I did catch glimpses of the game. I have it recorded so I'm going to try to look over some of it tomorrow and might have some specific comments from that. I saw Cantu's home run, some of Fossum's outing, and the beginning of Colome's. Besides those bits I'm most going from the box score and play by play.

First off, how about Jorge Cantu? This guy has a legitimate shot at being the best offensive second baseman in the AL, though overcoming Mark Bellhorn's great advantage in on-base ability will be tough. Will he do it? Who knows, though his plate discipline has improved from "swings at everything" to "swings at most anything in the strike zone but is willing to take pitches" it's still something that could cause him to fall off a lot as the year goes on. Still, he has at least gotten off to a great start proving that last season was a new established level of talent and not a fluke.

Rob Bell had the best outing by a Rays starter this season. Six innings, six K's. The two walks aren't bad (especially against a patient team like Oakland) and the hits/runs were just fine. He does need to be more efficient though, pitching that well he should have been able to go seven innings with 100 pitches.

Casey Fossum looked good again. Had two baserunners but both came on grounders and one was a botched play. So far he has shown strikeout stuff, good control, and the ability to get the groundball.

Now for two things I didn't like at all. First was the decision to remove Fossum after one batter in the 8th. This has nothing to do with Colome's performance on Monday or really with Colome at all. Why remove a pitcher that is pitching very well just because of matchups? You can't base decisions off of his 03-04 splits, he was awful in those years. Why not just let him pitch to everyone and see how he does? It's inefficient (and possibly risky since you never know how the incoming pitcher will do) bullpen usage and could be keeping the Rays from learning important information they'll need if the decision about whether or not to put Fossum in the rotation has to be made.

I haven't read the thread on RaysBB.com yet but I'm sure there was some yelling there too about this next thing. In the 8th inning with men on first and third with one out Josh Phelps was due up. The A's had just brought in right-handed Juan Cruz to pitch. Lou "countered" with Chris Singleton as a pinch-hitter. Singleton is not a good hitter, being left-handed isn't going to help him much to overcome his inherent crappiness at the plate. Phelps had been facing a right-hander all night, in fact he had a double off one to score the first run of the game. This is the guy that's supposed to be your everyday DH, the guy that will back up and protect Aubrey Huff in the lineup. You're pinch-hitting for him in a critical situation with Chris freakin' Singleton? This does not bode well, it doesn't appear that Piniella trusts Phelps at all and is going to continue to look for ways to not use him unless he just kills the ball all the time.

One final note. Does anyone else think that Rincon hit Huff on purpose in the 8th? He threw him three balls, was probably frustrated with himself, and most likely figured that he was either going to walk him or serve up a fat pitch to hit so why not just nail him?