The good news: the Rays won a very decisive Sunday afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox, 9-0. They are now 4.5 games up on the Yankees (who can’t seem to lose), and 7.0 games up on the Red Sox (who can’t seem to win).
The bad news: three Rays players either reported sick or came out of the game injured. Nelson Cruz went on the COVID IL although as of Sunday evening we only know that they are awaiting testing results. Chris Archer, who looked pretty good in his two innings, got no further in the game, complaining of hip tightness (which had slowed his rehab earlier). And Ji-Man Choi left the game with a sore hamstring.
The Rays get a well-deserved off day today before beginning a two-game series against the Phillies.
Luis Patiño has been a bit inconsistent in his first nearly full MLB season, but to his credit his best games have been against the stronger teams. He pitched well earlier against the Yankees, and this weekend had a good start against the White Sox.
Shane McClanahan’s new slider gets some love from Fangraphs.
If we use WAR as a yardstick, Randy Arozarena seems to be the front runner for AL Rookie of the Year.
A Brett Phillips hot streak earns him “weird and wild” recognition from The Athletic ($)
John Romano writes about Rays strong offense and wonders whether it is sustainable ($). His answer — who knows? Which of course is both correct but unsatisfying. I would think someone writing about this might take a look at team BABIP since that can give you some idea of whether the offense is fueled by lucky hits. He didn’t but I checked — the .298 BABIP for the last 30 days is pretty average. So the offense is clearly not just a bunch of favorable bounces. He could have also looked at home runs per fly ball, another metric that gives some idea of luck. Here they Rays 18.2% does put them at the high end of the league’s distribution. Of course none of these metrics can predict whether key hitters will slump down the stretch.
From Chris Mazza:
Around the League
Our own John Ford (@kingofchapterone) got recognition from the Cincinnati Reds on his tweet about the lovely Joey Votto-Abigail tale
And our own Ashley MacLennan decided to delve into the history of baseball mascots. I am proud to say that the very first actual mascot represented my home town team.
The always eloquent Doug Glanville reflects on Shohei Ohtani and Little League baseball.
It pains me to write anything positive about the Yankees, especially given the high decibel whining of their fans and media this year. I want them to go quietly into the night. That said, how can we not feel some joy seeing the breakout season of former Rays prospect Andrew Velazquez? “Squid,” always adored by his teammates and prized for his versality, never previously got beyond a cup of coffee, but got a chance with the Yankees - his home town team — and is now sleeping in his Bronx childhood bedroom while smacking hits a few miles away at Yankee stadium. Can we appreciate his success but still hope the team loses? Here is a lovely profile, ($) And here is the video of his family watching him hit his first major league homerun:
Curt Flood has probably never received the recognition he should have for challenging baseball’s reserve clause and helping the sport move toward a system of free agency from which he never benefitted. This essay discusses the sacrifices he made ($)