Tampa Bay Resumes Role as Pain in My Ass

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So we're back to this again, huh? Tampa Bay just secured a place on my fantasy team of "People to Kill." Or rather, I think this is more in line with what I have in mind.

Saturday's game between the Yanks and the Devil Rays (which is what I'm back to calling them for the next day of the season) pitted Andy Pettitte against Rookie of the Year contender Jeff Niemann. Joe Maddon needs to slow his roll about this guy.

I mean, he's good and all, but he's acting like one of those far-gone fanatics who vehemently argue that, like, Donovan McNabb is the best QB of all time, or Oliver Perez deserves the Cy Young.)

"I think he's a very strong candidate. Actually I think he is the candidate," manager Joe Maddon said Saturday night. "I think he should win it."

I think the whole lot of them is batty.

For starters, they traded away Scott Kazmir to the Angels. That's not the doing of any rational, clear-thinking GM. Secondly, their line-up is pretty stacked, so how did they competely revert to their pre-2008 ways of being the worst talented team in the league?

Thirdly, they all are weirdly outliers. The Yanks and Sux "hate" each other but a relationship exists. Same goes for other teams in the AL....the Devil Rays remind me of the son in Wedding Crashers who sits in the corner and paints by himself.

And just as Todd Cleary was able to subdue Vince Vaughn at one point in this hit comedy, TB has now won two in a row agains the mighty Yankees. Friday night I'll give them credit for. But Saturday they were playing our "linebackers." I won't call 'em "scrubs" because they represent the only sect of the "kid"-demographic that I don't want to develop a medicinal repellent for.

But, by the same token, we were missing ARod, Jeter, and subbed out the rest of the big names in favor of F. Cervelli, S. Duncan, F. Guzman, R. Pena, and J. Miranda. I'm fine with that in the Penultimate Game. But I'd like to not end the season by being swept by a team of division pariahs.

If we have to pick out a concern, because what loss is ever really devoid of some alarm trigger, then I guess we can point to Andy Pettitte. There are still questions around who gets the ball for Game 2 of the ALDS. I really don't understand why there are "questions," though. What the hell is going on in the Yankee clubhouse? It's like there's this actuary of decision makers in a room who have decided pumping nitrous oxide into the room would help them think better.

"Sooo...I'm thinking tomorrow we let the bases get really, I mean REALLY loaded, and best case scenario it's a 1 or 2 run game. Then BAM. Call Bruney. It's foolproof. Now we should probably talk about taking away Joba's fastball, because I think he'd work best as a starter with only 1 pitch in his pocket. Thoughts?"

Andy is great on the road. AJ is awful. Put AJ after CC, as has been practice all year. But this also might be a decision best made after we actually know who we're up against. Congrats the the Twinkies for giving baseball fans a penant race to sink our teeth into. I'd give Detroit more of a hard time, but, uh, there's nothing wrong with a little slump at the end of the season.

The Rays' Dioner Navarro used Pettitte as a springboard to get out of his season-long slump. Perfect timing, chief. Where were you when I drafted you as my catcher-that's-going-to-have-an-even-better-year-than-last? His 2-run homer in the 2nd spotted and an RBI single from Bartlett spotted TB to a 3-0 lead.

I guess if we're looking for positives, at least these last 2 losses started almost instantly. I mean, it's not like fans spent the whole game thinking we had a win locked up only for the Rays to turn it around on us.

That's pretty much where the "positives" end, though. Andy's thrilling outing lasted 4 1/3 innings where he allowed 5 runs on 6 hits, and walked 4. I'm totally comfortable right now heading into a 5-game series.

As if this wasn't ugly enough, my boy Aceves managed to let 2 runners score in the 5th before he had even thrown a pitch. The double steal from first and second took off and Aces fired the pick off attempt well into left field. Let's go ahead and say this wasn't altogether bad because at least it wasn't a wild pitch. Plus, if ARod had been there instead of Hinske, wouldn't be having this discussion because the runs wouldn't have scored, the game would remain tied at 3, and the Yanks would have won.

What's the deal with the shoddy fielding when Andy starts? It's like the Yanks know he's so nice that they don't fear his wrath as much. As opposed to when CC or AJ takes the mound, and the defense is either terrified of being sat on or being subjected to whatever terrifying psychological warfare AJ is probably capable of.

The Yanks managed to scrape today 3 runs off RBI singles from Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, and Jerry Hairston Jr, but it wasn't enough and they ultimately fell, 5-3. Tomorrow AJ Burnett (12-9, 4.10) faces Wade Davis (2-1, 3.45) for the final game of the season. The Yanks have already lost the series, but I'm pretty sure most of the Rays would rather lose the series and play ball again this Wednesday.

Yes, it's "meaningles" etc etc. But I'm not crazy about the idea of being swept by the DEVIL RAYS right before heading into the postseason. Let's get it done, AJ. I've just about had it with these small fries.


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