ST.PETERSBURG – Rays manager Joe Maddon loves music. So it’s not unusual that he talks about what he’s listening to in the car these days.
“The Stones, “Start Me Up.” It is The Stones tomorrow. The Stones always get the first game of the big series,” Maddon said.
Maddon spoke about the Rays taking on the White Sox, who are coming off two big wins – a makeup game win over Detroit and a 1-0 win over the Twins for the AL Central title.
“Well, they’re more of a power-laden team…They rely on the homerun. Almost 50% of their runs come by the homerun. So you really have to be careful. You have to have a really well-laid out plan pitching wise. Of course, pitchers are going to make mistakes, but overall you really want to try to understand the hitters what their strengths are.
“But regardless of that, I’ve always wanted our players or pitchers to pitch to our strengths first as opposed to the hitter’s weaknesses. So you’ve got to kind of combine all of that somehow.
“Again, they’re dangerous with the homerun. They’re not a big movement team, but they will hit-and-run on occasion. They have a couple guys that will steal, but primarily they try to hit the ball over the fence, and their ballpark is really conducive to the homerun. I think ours is relatively fair, in spite of the dimensions on the wall, unless the air-conditioning is blowing out to right center. Then sometimes it gets a little bit frisky. But they’re just a homerun-hitting ballclub, and you just got to know what you’re doing against them. They’ll just get that three-run, those three points in a hurry.
“Their pitching, I like their pitching, too, their starting pitching is very good. They’ve matched up well against us this year. They’ve been in low-scoring games. And I anticipate the same thing right now.
“Defensively, up the middle you look at — I’m a big fan of the O.C. I’ve worked with Orlando in the past. I think their second baseman is very good. Pierzynski’s been there before, and he’s battle tested. So they’re kind of interesting up the middle, too, and you always look there. They’re a good ballclub. They’re veterans. They’re not going to be in awe of any situation.”