Can you hear me now?

Obviously, there is a lot of good to take away from that broom-job of the Rangers.  The offense returned, the pitching was great, and the blind-faith that we are never out of a game seemed to return as well.

The series did raise at least one red flag.  Even though the Rays’ bullpen has been surprisingly efficient this season, the Texas series was a sobering reminder that the bridge to Soriano can be shaky.  (the guys between the starter and Soriano allowed 8 hits and 7 ER to the 26 Ranger batters they faced while blowing one lead and nearly blowing another — oh by the way, 13 of those 26 hitters reached base.).

I am not concerned that the bridge will cost us a postseason game.  There is just no way we are going to see Lance Cormier or Mike Ekstrom in a big spot in October.  But, it’s not October yet.  We need to play another month-and-a-half of baseball without sending our closer to the DL.

That brings me to a great point Cork Gaines raised over on Rays Index (it’s in the section called “The Bad”).

Not only did Raphael Soriano lose a day of rest by having to pitch yesterday, but he also warmed up…twice.

Joe Maddon does a lot of things well as a manager but his biggest weakness has been the amount of time he spends talking to Bobby Ramos on the bullpen phone.  The downside to his tendency to mix-and-matchup is that he gets a lot of pitchers up more than once.  That takes its toll on bullpen arms.

Remember, Tyler Walker signed with San Francisco after the 2006 season because he blamed his off-season elbow surgery on the amount of time he spent warming up because Maddon  nervous.

Connect that dot to J.P. Howell’s lost season, following his stint as the Rays fill-in closer, and then add in Troy Percival’s premature flameout in 2008 and ask yourself: are you positive Soriano’s arm will make it to October?

Perhaps we can get that Verizon guy from the commercials to answer the bullpen phone.  That will give the skipper someone to talk to and keep Ramos from revving up the bullpen unnecessarily.

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