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Game Report: Thursday, June 22nd vs Arizona

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RAYS 4, Arizona 1

[Fan Graphs]

Aubrey Huff hit a two-run homer Thursday afternoon as Tampa Bay downed the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-1.  

Huff had one run, three hits and three RBI; Jorge Cantu had two runs and three hits; Greg Norton scored a run and had two hits; and Ty Wigginton drove in a run for the Devil Rays (32-41), who have won five of their last six games.

In 7 2/3 innings, winner Scott Kazmir (9-4) limited Arizona to one run and three hits, walking two and striking out eight. Brian Meadows got his second save.

Johnny Estrada hit a solo home run, one of only three hits for the Diamondbacks (36-37). Arizona has lost eight of its last nine games.

Losing pitcher Edgar Gonzalez (0-1) gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings with no walks and six strikeouts.

[Untied Press International]

How I Stacked Up

Here's what the '3 Up, 3 Down' you see on the sidebar (based strictly on my opinion) would have looked like had I gone with Win Probability...

3 Up

SP Scott Kazmir: 40.4 WPA
3B Aubrey Huff: 19.2 WPA
2B Jorge Cantu: 11.5 WPA

3 Down
LF Carl Crawford: -8.3 WPA
DH Jonny Gomes: -6.8 WPA
SS Julio Lugo: -6.7 WPA
C Josh Paul: -6.0 WPA

My Thoughts

-Well, I rode over 10 miles round-trip on a bike balancing a broom on a handle bar, had to put up with at least 12,000 screaming kids at the ballpark for 'Summer Camp Day' (compounded with the giveaway of those stupid thundersticks, which were pounded together to make an annoying sound and used as projectiles, I must have been hit on the head with those damn things at least 10 times) to see a baseball game at the earliest start time the Rays have played at this season 12:15, but to watch the ballclub defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4 to 1 and sweep the series, it was worth it. The Rays, who have never lost a ballgame to Arizona in franchise history and have won five of six, looked in tune on offense even without Rocco Baldelli in the lineup, I was very impressed with what I saw.

Watching our offense hit these last two games, even despite the lack of bringing home RISP, I became firmly convinced that if the starting nine remains healthy, this offense could be even better than last year's attack, which didn't have Rocco, who has been the team's best player since coming off of injury. Watching the full lineup really excited me. No longer do I have to watch starts being pissed away on Tomas Perez and the like, with Huff getting back into the 'swing' of things (ha ha ha), Cantu and Rocco healthy, and Lugo being productive, this team is exciting to watch. At last I can look forward to the bottom half of the inning at the ballpark.

However the top half of the inning was just as fun to watch on Thursday, as Scott Kazmir dominated Arizona for seven innings, absolutely shutting down the struggling Diamondbacks. After picking up his ninth win of the season, he is just one off of his total from all of last year. He pitched an absolutely masterful outing that was his best since his May 21st start against the Marlins which was the best of his career. That is three good starts in a row for Kaz, so hopefully he is warming up again in his attempt to make the AL All-Star team. Watching him pitch is a thing of beauty. He is the first pitcher I have ever seen in this organization where I actually want to watch him pitch. How many pitchers in Devil Rays history have ever made you say to your ballpark companion 'No, you go ahead and get concessions, I want to watch the opposing team bat'? Kazmir is that pitcher, and I am so glad to have him around.

Now, you can say 'Oh, well this is just the Diamondbacks, they suck, this isn't impressive'. Well, let me clue you in on something; that is the type of team the Rays have had problems with. There problem last year was not the Indians, Yankees, Angels, or A's, it was the Tigers, Twins, and Mariners. This team always played at the level of its competition, and that component was a double-edged sword. It is nice to actually see the Rays starting to beat the teams they should, that is what was missing last year, and they will get further practice at that with the Braves coming in this weekend, hopefully they can keep it up.

About Last Night...
Fan Graphs
St. Petersburg Times
The Tampa Tribune
USA Today