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Carlos Pena Closing in on Franchise Record

  • The most peculiar pitcher on the staff was on display tonight with Jeff Niemann pitching. On the other side, Justin Verlander, one of the three best pitchers in the American League this season. Nobody makes contact with him. Contrasting styles to say the least.
  • Niemann is a broken pitching machine. He throws almost all fastballs, then he'll glitch and throws a change-up or curveball, catching you completely off guard or out in front. Tonight, 74 fastballs with only four resulting in foolishness; meanwhile 6 of his 14 change-ups caused whiffs and one of his 15 curves did.  I never held the perception of Niemann as a pitch-to-contact, low strikeout and walk pitcher, but here he is. People are going to look at the results and find this avatar brilliant.
  • Carlos Pena is one home run from 40. I would imagine he notches that this weekend. That would place him at 117 home runs in his Rays career. Believe it or not (or perhaps, can you believe this?) with 13 more home runs, Pena will become the franchise career leader in home runs. Aubrey Huff is the current leader and Fred McGriff is third. Carl Crawford and Jonny Gomes - really - round out the top five. Evan Longoria is seventh with 53 pops and Toby Hall is tenth with 44. I couldn't believe this. Not that Hall is top ten - okay, that too - but that he has 44 career homers.
  • J.P. Howell is going through a rough stretch, eh? Thankfully nobody is paying attention anymore, otherwise the cries for a veteran closer would be deafening. At this point Russ Springer closing could a) ensure his status as a Type-B b) allow J.P. to roam and c) give J.P. some less stressful occasions to get back into the groove.
  • Perhaps I'm alone on this, but I want to pretend Fernando Perez has a deep meaning behind his mustache. Intricate symbolism even. Unfortunately the holy strip did not prevent him from being victimized by Gerald Laird.
  • Laird is hideous looking and balding. I'm sure the ladies love him.
  •  I have never seen a player launch a ball into the stands immediately after recording out three in the ninth inning. Correction: I had never seen it. Fernando Rodney allowed me such an opportunity tonight. It strikes me as odd that he chose this time imitate Dwayne Wade but he did.
  • 13 months and one day ago Shawn Riggans took a Rodney fastball to the chest and survived. Rodney's antics and Riggans bullpen catching reminded me of this. Oddly I just remarked to Tommy about how brisk this season has felt. We are four weeks from ending this season. Time flies.