The Rays offense hates James Shields, but today it looked like it loved Scott Kazmir. A day after giving Shields zero run support in an embarrassing loss to the Royals the offense rebounded to pummel Zach Greinke. The final tally for Greinke was 5IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, and 9K. That's 6 more runs than the offense scored off of Brian Bannister yesterday. Brian Bannister is not one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, Zach Greinke is. Yeah, that makes sense. Such is baseball.
-Watching anyone other than B.J. Upton play centerfield for this team is entertaining, and not in the good way. Gabe Kapler played fine today, but the ball that dropped to allow the Royals' first run would have easily been caught by Upton. It's those types of plays that go unappreciated over a full season. I know Kapler made a running catch later in the game, but again, that would have been a routine out for Upton.
-In Upton's absence Jason Bartlett batted leadoff and made the most of the opportunity. Bartlett went 3-4 with a walk, double, triple and 2RBI. Bartlett will not continue to bat leadoff when B.J. Upton is back in the lineup, but for one day he made the most of it. Hitting behind Bartlett today, Carl Crawford had a nice game himself goind 3-5 with a double, 3RBI and his 49th steal of the season.
-I mentioned yesterday that I thought it was time Willy Aybar got more playing time at DH. With Pat Burrell getting the day off Aybar got just that, and like Bartlett, made the most of his opportunity. Aybar mashed two homers, one from each side of the plate, in consecutive at bats in the 5th and 7th innings. Like Bartlett, I don't believe Aybar will continue to get the consistant at bats in the DH spot, not with Burrell making $7million, but he has certainly been making his case.
-It was very encouraging to see Scott Kazmir have another good outing. Coming off his best start of the season last week against the Yankees Kazmir went quite well, going 6 innings and throwing 114 pitches, 82 for strikes. Kazmir did have one walk on on the day, and that was to lead off the 7th inning. I have no idea why Kazmir was left in to start the inning, seeing as how he was at over 100 pitches and the Rays had a 6-3 lead. This must be a new habit of Maddon's because he sure seems to be doing it a lot lately. He'll leave his starter in the game when he's over 100 pitches, the Rays have the lead, and the bullpen is seemingly ready. I don't understand it, and most of the outcomes have turned out like Kazmir's.
-I saw two things today I never thought I'd see in my life: Michel Hernandez hitting a triple, and Yuniesky Betancourt hitting a home run off of J.P. Howell.
-Last but not least, thanks to the people at FSN and SunSports for their hospitality today. Much appreciated.