The organization seems to be taking notice to Sonnastine's success, but a change does not seem to be on the horizon even though it certainly needs to be (especially after this weekend's series where the Devil Rays were swept by the Florida Marlins). Sonnanstine deserves a chance to see how he would pitch against major league competition. Why not give Sonnanstine the same opportunity the Devil Rays gave to Tim Corcoran and James Shields in 2006 when both pitchers started their big league careers with impressive winning streaks. Shields went through his growing pains in his rookie season and is now a legitimate number two starter for the Devil Rays.
Joel Guzman and Josh Johnson had homeruns to pace the Bulls' thirteen hit offensive attack. Guzman, who now has five homers this season, finished the game 2-4 with 3 RBIS. The third baseman, who is arguably the best acquisition for the Devil Rays from the deal that brought Seo over from the Dodgers, is still only hitting .209. Guzman does now appear to be coming out of a season long slump. Wes Bankston, Brent Butler, Elliot Johnson, and Ben Zobrist also had doubles in the victory.
In major league news, it is a shame that the Devil Rays wasted another brilliant start from Shields in today's 4-3 loss. He had eight strikeouts and allowed only one earned run in seven strong innings to lower his ERA to 2.94, which is among the league leaders for starting pitchers with more than ten starts. Shields only has three wins, but could have double that total if the bullpen was more consistently able to hold on to leads.
The tricky part for the Devil Rays this season has been to get the game from the starting pitcher to closer Al Reyes. That scenario proved to be true yet again on Sunday afternoon. In what is becoming to a never ending highlight reel for the duo, Shawn Camp and Brian Stokes could not hold on to Shields' 3-1 lead. Stokes allowed two earned runs and did not retire a batter when he took the mound in the eighth inning. Camp was not much better. He was able to get out of the inning unlike Stokes, but allowed what proved to be the game winning hit to Miguel Cabrera with one out. Cabrera's double brought in Josh Willingham to bring the score to 4-3. Camp (0-1) suffered his first loss and second blown save of the season. If only Stokes could have created a bridge for the Devil Rays to get to Reyes. Reyes tossed a scoreless ninth inning to lower his team best ERA to 1.31. Unfortunately for the Devil Rays, he was not pitching in a save situation. Save situations have been few and far between for Reyes over the last two weeks.
The Devil Rays could only muster five hits of their own off of Marlins starter Sergio Mitre. Mitre (2-2) allowed all three of the Devil Rays' runs, two of which came from Carlos Pena's ninth homerun of the season with one out in the first inning. Pena, who hit third in the lineup for the first time in his Devil Rays career, is now leading the team with nine homeruns. After a slow start, he is now hitting .307, good for third on the team. Elijah Dukes' triple to lead off the game was the only other extra base hit for Tampa Bay. Dukes later scored on Pena's homerun to give Shields a 2-0 lead.
Sunday was a heartbreaking way to end an emotionally draining series for the Devil Rays. The team will look to turn things around on Tuesday night when they welcome the Seattle Mariners to town. In a battle of lefties, Scott Kazmir will square off against Jarrod Washburn at Tropicana Field. Kazmir (2-2) is still looking for his third win.
Game notes: Greg Norton finished the game 1-3 in his second start of the season since returning from the Disabled List on Thursday.
In other baseball news, I want to congratulate my cousin David, a member of the Emory University baseball team, for advancing to the NCAA Division III College World Series. The Eagles, currently ranked fourth in the country, defeated host Ferrum College in the finals of the South Region tournament in extra innings this afternoon. Good luck the rest of the way.