08/17/12 9:52 PM ET
Straight talk: Starters communicating, succeeding
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
On top of what the starting pitchers have done, the bullpen has been lights out. Closer Fernando Rodney leads all Major Leaguers in saves (37) and ERA (0.81); J.P. Howell has thrown 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings; and Joel Peralta has posted a 0.57 ERA in his last 16 appearances, striking out 25 of the 54 batters he's faced.
Catcher Jose Lobaton was asked to give his assessment of why the starting pitching has been so good.
"What I can say is, all of the pitchers are putting the ball in good spots," Lobaton said. "I think in making great pitches like at big moments, they concentrate for that pitch. I think the communication we got right now with the pitchers makes us look good in the game. Those situations, we go there and we know what they want to throw. I think the pitchers got that confidence to throw every pitch for a strike. ...
"The starters, they're throwing everything for a strike. Most of the time you're seeing them go seven innings or more. They're not missing their pitch, they're using the changeup, the cutter, the back door. I think that the best thing the pitchers are doing right now is they're throwing strikes."
Lobaton noted that the communication between the pitchers and Jose Molina and him has been remarkable. According to Lobaton, the pitchers are constantly talking pitching with the team's two catchers. What do they talk about?
"About situations, about what he likes to do with two strikes, what he likes to do with runners at second, with runners in scoring position and I think that's the key right now with me," Lobaton said. "We've got that confidence with the pitcher and they have the confidence with the catcher, where they feel like they can throw everything."
While the catchers call the pitches, the catchers know what the pitchers want to throw because of their communication.
"We call it being on the same page," Lobaton said.
Zobrist a shining example of quality shortstop play
ANAHEIM -- Ben Zobrist is back at shortstop for now, and the experiment is paying off.
Zobrist turned a big double play in the fifth inning of Thursday night's 7-0 win over the Angels. After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn't say enough nice things about Zobrist.
"How about Zobrist at shortstop?" Maddon said. "He's done a really nice job, very simple. I like boring out of a shortstop. And I mean that as the highest compliment possible, where he just comes in very fundamentally, picks up the ball, and zip, a nice, accurate throw to first base. He's been very boring at shortstop and I love it. Zero chrome."
While Maddon allowed that he does "dig chrome," particularly where his renovated 1967 Galaxy 500 is concerned, he added, "I really prefer a non-chrome infield."
When asked what it felt like to have no chrome, Zobrist, shifted to shortstop more to bolster the offense than for defensive purposes, smiled.
"I never thought I had any chrome," he said. "I guess that's a much better way to describe it than boring."
Zobrist clearly understood the "boring" comment and agreed that being in the field is sometimes like being an umpire in that the only time you get noticed is when you blow a play.
"There are plays that you have to be a little bit exciting and you want to be able to make those plays, too," Zobrist said. "I think I've made some of those plays in my career. But overall, you want to make the pitcher know that if the ball is hit to you, it's going to be an out. And if it means that you're not making errors and you're out there making the play everybody expects you to make, then I'm good with that."
Zobrist appears to be having fun while playing the position that he played when he arrived to the Major Leagues in 2006.
"I really like it," Zobrist said. "When I felt really good about it was when we turned that double play yesterday, because I hadn't felt really comfortable at shortstop yet, and I felt very comfortable with that one. And it was quick and it helped David [Price] save a possible run situation there. So I was very encouraged by that."
Again addressing the lack of chrome issue, would Zobrist consider asking Maddon to get him some chrome?
"No, they pay me enough to get chrome if I need it," Zobrist said.
Rays show terrific recuperative powers
ANAHEIM -- The Rays showed no aftereffects Thursday night from having a perfect game thrown against them Wednesday. Answering the challenge, the Rays notched a 7-0 win over the Angels.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three other teams have scored seven or more runs immediately following a perfect game.
The 1904 Philadelphia Athletics defeated Washington, 16-6, after Boston's Cy Young pitched a perfect game against them. David Wells threw a perfect game against the Twin while pitching for the Yankees in 1998. The next day, the Twins defeated Detroit, 8-3. And finally, the 1880 Cleveland Blues of the National League defeated the Worcester (Mass.) Ruby Legs, 7-1. Cleveland was the only team to do so against the same opponent; in fact, it did it against the same pitcher, Lee Richmond.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.