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FRIDAY GAME NOTES

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The final series of the year, begins tonight

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last night Evan Longoria hit a mammoth home run to left field. Crushed it, no doubt about it, it was gone. It was beautiful, and notewrothy, as the homerun came on the first day of October. Longoria had not hit a homerun at home since August.

Consequently, Marc Topkin sort of went off today on Longoria. At mid-season the famed Trade Value columns suddenly ignored Longoria's sweetheart deal with the Rays because he hadn't been living up to the billing. Ben Lidbergh had shown as much on Grantland. Topkin says the scouts agree.

It's something Longoria is evidently aware of:

And, in a way, he is a victim of his own early success, creating the expectation he was on a track to be a superstar.

"It's tough," he said. "It's kind of like one of those situations where you are damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. ... Of course I would like my numbers to be better. Everybody wants to be better. And I believe they are in there. Now it's just go back to the drawing board in the offseason and try to figure out how to get back."

But, in what is essentially the midpoint of his career, will he be among the greats again?

"The years, the window to play at your highest level is very small," he said. "I want to experience those things, and I work every day to try to get back to that.

"But I really believe that ultimately, at the end of the day, if you win a World Series, you're pretty much immortalized in the city that you're in. That takes precedent over anything. It's the cliche thing for me to say, but for me it's the truth. I'm not playing for anything else really other than this team and that one thing."

The article is titled With age, Evan Longoria's priorities change and sites Longo's different approach of moving runners over and going opposite field as much as possible this season.

Topkin argues the man scheduled to make $107M over the next seven years shouldn't be as focused on helping others as much as he should be on helping himself be the cornerstone of the Rays offense.

Read more from Topkin here, it's brazen of him.

In case you missed it, the Rays swept the Marlins out of Tropicana Field, which means they stand tied with the Orioles and Red Sox with 78 wins. Technically, that puts the Rays fourth in the standings, based on wins and losses against those teams.

Draft pick watch: With three games left to go, the Rays currently now place 13th to last in baseball.

As for the series at hand, the Rays meet back up with old friend Mark Buehrle as the Blue Jays wind down for the lull before the post season. Can the Rays beat the September call ups? Tulo might be back from injury, so that might add some excitement. - DR

TODAY'S STARTING PITCHERS:

PITCHER W L ERA FIP AVG HR K% BB% GS/G IP
Erasmo Ramirez 11 6 3.65 3.81 .228 16 19.2% 6.1% 26/33 158
Mark Buehrle 14 7 3.76 4.13 .269 20 11.2% 3.9% 30/30 191.1

Erasmo Ramirez, arguable the most consistent Rays pitcher of the season has been excellent in his first season with Tampa Bay. After a disastrous beginning, since April 19th, he has an ERA under three with oppnents hitting just .214 off him. This will be Ramirez's last outing of the year and possibly in a Rays uniform depending on how the off-season plays out.

Ramirez has been on a roll his last three times out as he has delivered 21.2 innings and has only allowed four runs over that stretch. His last time out was on the 24th against the Red Sox where he went seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits, while he walked none and struck out six earning his 11th victory of the season.

Mark Buehrle Scouting Report:

Mark Buehrle is heading to another post season division series after the Blue Jays clinched the American League East title Tuesday. With the way the Blue Jays have played in the second half, he could very well receive a second world series ring. A storied career filled with numerous accolades and he even has two no-hitters, including one against the Rays back in 2009.

One thing that has remained constant throughout his career is his workhorse personality as he has surpassed the 200 inning plateau in each of the past 14 years he has been in a starting rotation. It looked certain earlier in the season that he'd reach that mark again, but he has struggled in the second half. Right now he sits at 191.1 innings pitched, so he'll need to come at least one out away from a complete game to reach it.

His arsenal:

PITCH VELOCITY FREQUENCY vs LHB vs RHB
Fastball Low 80's

28% vs LHB

***

29% vs RHB

Paints the outside corner Paints the corners
Sinker Low 80's

19% vs LHB

***

23% vs RHB

Paints the inside corner Paints the outside corner
Cutter High 70's

23% vs LHB

***

14% vs RHB

Runs it low and away from the zone Paints the inside corner
Change High 70's

17% vs LHB

***

27% vs RHB

Low in the zone Low and away in the zone
Curve Low 70's

13% vs LHB

***

07% vs RHB

Low and away from the zone Anywhere below the zone

His splits:

TBF AVG OBP SLG HR K% BB%
vs LHB 214 .288 .322 .475 8 9.8% 3.7%
vs RHB 575 .262 .299 .418 12 11.7% 4.0%
HOME 369 .241 .285 .407 10 12.7% 4.9%
AWAY 420 .293 .323 .457 10 9.8% 3.1%

Today's Lineups

TORONTO BLUE JAYS TAMPA BAY RAYS
Ben Revere - LF Brandon Guyer - CF
Josh Donaldson - 3B Mikie Mahtook - RF
Jose Bautista - RF Evan Longoria - DH
Edwin Encarnacion - 1B Logan Forsythe - 2B
Chris Colabello - DH Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
Russell Martin - C Joey Butler - LF
Troy Tulowitzki - SS Tim Beckham - 3B
Kevin Pillar - CF Richie Shaffer - 1B
Ryan Goins - 2B Luke Maile - C
Mark Buehrle - LHP Erasmo Ramirez - RHP

October 2nd in Rays History:

  • One former Rays player was born on October 2nd as Alan Newman (1969) celebrates his 46th birthday today.
  • They are 6-4 all-time on this date
  • 2008 - After a miraculous season, the Rays play in their first ever playoff game as they took on the White Sox at Tropicana Field. The Rays Rays rookie phenom, Evan Longoria, starts his postseason career with a bang homering on the first pitch he seen. Later in the game, he'd send another ball into the seats for his second homer of the day and the Rays would win, 6-4.

  • 2009 - CC Sabathia going for his 20th victory, falls somewhat short. Melvin Upton had nice night though, as he became the first player in Rays history to hit for the cycle, and he did so in the first five innings no less. The Rays eventually won, 13-4.

  • 2010 - A day after being shutout by Bruce Chen of the Royals, the Rays pull-off a shutout of their own in record breaking fashion. The Rays used eight pitchers, with Andy Sonnanstine receiving the start and Randy Choate closed it out seven pitchers late as the Rays cruised to a 4-0 victory.

  • 2012 - James Shields making what is widely believed (and indeed is) to be his last start with the Rays and it turns into one of his best ever. Shields would set a new team record with 15 strikeouts, tossing a complete game, and only allowed two hits. Unfortunately, one of those was a homer from Chris Davis. Shields would fittingly lose, 1-0 to poetically end his Rays' tenure.

  • 2013 - Two days after defeating the Rangers in a tie-breaker game that allowed the Rays to advance to the first ever wild card game. Taking the mound for the Rays for the very important game would be Alex Cobb, who made an incredible return after having been struck in the head by a line drive earlier in the season. The Indians had their chances, but Cobb shut them down for nearly seven innings and the Rays would go on to win, 4-0.