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Tampa Bay Rays Lift Banners, Raise ERAs

You weren't imagining things, St. Peter really was one of the ushers for today's game. That was perhaps the most perfect and complete game you will ever see, and it came on a momentous day. If you've been a Rays fan for longer than a second and didn't feel your chest swell as the banners rose, then frankly you may not be human.

 

There's just so much to cover, let's go player-by-player.

B.J. Upton.

Holy hell is he back. Leading off his season with a walk then a pair of stolen bases was beautiful. Then making one of the best catches in team history moments later was beyond perfect. Heavenly even. For all the non-sense Upton went through last year, including moments when certain people showed just how much they knew about the game by accusing him of being overrated, this and his post-season performance have slaughtered the boo birds for good. Oh, and his mustache is the best off-season addition the Rays made.

Carl Crawford

Made a nice sliding catch early on, then was pegged in the back and stole a base. Crawford also drew a walk. Yes, that's noteworthy. His leaping catch near/at the wall was pretty cool too, saving extra bases. For someone accused of having a phobia of walls, this was nice, especially since it didn't involve Carl getting hurt.

Evan Longoria

When I made that strikingly short post yesterday it wasn't because that's all I had to say, it's because I didn't know how to say it. Naturally, the thoughts come to me on the day where the most exciting thing Evan did was draw his first walk of the season - cool it down there Jose Guillen. Still, I've discussed this with a few other writer types and I've yet to really form my opinion on it. Given the contract and Evan's outstanding production - last year, this year, and the projected future - is there a player in baseball who the opposing team wouldn't at least consider trading straight up for Evan? Albert Pujols perhaps, but even then, if the St. Louis Cardinals do not think they can re-sign Albert, and instead they can grab Longoria and in a few years put Brett Wallace at first, would they consider it? I don't know, and I don't care, Evan is ridiculously talented and Joe Randa finds it an honor to have been compared to him at some point.

The Free Credit Report ad behind homeplate is both annoying and awesome. Annoying because it caught my attention almost every other pitch, awesome because holy crap someone is actually willing to buy that ad space in our stadium now. These are way better than those  We're not the Yankees, with ads on every available space in the stadium, but given the added revenue, I'll take it. Plus, you can always tell how good a team is by their ads. If you've never heard of the company, odds are you're the Washington Nationals.

Carlos Pena

Slump over.

Pat Burrell

Ideally, Burrell would have more homeruns than Jason Bartlett at this point. Of course, ideally Burrell would also have lasers for eyes and three bionic arms, instead he only has two bionic arms and one laser eye that only works half of the time. His cold streak appears to be on life support as well.

Kevin Kennedy yet again showing his lack of understanding in regards to baseball by suggesting Burrell would be better offensively as a DH rather than a fielder. If not for that whole "history" thing that tells us the exact opposite about most hitters.

Dioner Navarro

Mixed feelings on the bunt. On one hand, much like with Navarro hitting a triple, there's a certain humiliation factor involved for the opposing defense. On the other, Navarro should probably not get comfortable laying bunts down.

Gabe Gross

I've been thinking about the original Josh Butler for Gross deal a lot lately and it still comes off as a stroke of brilliance. Perhaps not as good as getting Willy Aybar for a marginal reliever, but still pretty damn fine. Doug Melvin had put Gross on waivers, so there was only so much leverage in a potential trade, yet the Rays FO identified Gross as the prototypical underrated player - pre-2009 at least - one with a good glove and workable bat for cheap. Yes, he's completely average overall, and if you don't see the value in that then you need to open your eyes. Call him Dr. Friedman because Andrew has mastered the game.

Lance Cormier looks 12 without a cap on. Even with facial hair.

Akinori Iwamura

Like every other Rays starter, he reached base. That slow roller in the 6th pretty much exemplified the Rays night. Thank the grounds crew.

Jason Bartlett

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE OLD JASON BARTLETT?

Scott Kazmir

The random breaks and constant low leverage situations make it hard to judge Kazmir tonight. His fastball say around 90 and topped out at 92. He used his change 13% of the time and found the zone often with it, he also used the slider 30% of the time (!!!) and found the zone way less often. Kazmir did generate quite a nice number of swinging strikes. 6.6 IP, 100 pitches, 6 Ks, 0 walks, and a swinging strike percentage of 9.

Maybe we are in heaven after all.