April 2008

Twin Bill Split Down the Middle

 

Rays 7, Twins 3

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

In 1999, Fernando Tatis, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, became the only player to hit two grand slams in the same inning.

 

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                                      The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                               The Good

 

I have been harping on him for three days about his play .and the fact  that I think he is a sub-par defender. Well, for at least this day, I will eat crow and tell you Jason Bartlett played one helluva game tonight.

He made great defensive plays at short, and he also went 2-4 at the plate to raise his average  to .218 for the young season.

 

The only bad thing I can say about him tonight is that he got caught stealing second in the Top of the 8th inning. But, that is okay since he seemed to be stroking the ball well tonight and had his lazer arm tuned  for a change.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

                                                                             

*** J P Howell came in and pitched 3 innings to record his first  career save. Howell, a former  Rays starter, had not been in a “save” position before tonight and responded superbly. Howell faced only 9 batters in those  3 innings.

 

** Rays Starter Jason Hammel had his breaking balls moving and dipping with precision tonight. I was watching him battle  the Twins’ Carlos Gomez at one at bat, and Hammel pitched two straight breaking balls that broke nicely for strikes on the black of the plate.

 

When his breaking pitches are on, he is a totally different pitcher on the mound. Oh, and he got the win tonight for his fantastic efforts. 

 

* The Rays  B J Upton And Aki Iwamura both scored two runs tonight  and Carl Crawford went 2-5 to raise his average to .250. BJ Upton has 15 RBI’s so far this year, good enough for a huge tie for second going into tonight’s late game action.

 

 The Rays currently  are third in the majors with 22 Home Runs.

 

                                            The Bad

 

                     Rays' Carlos Pena, here hitting one of his team-high six homers earlier this year, is listed as day to day for now.

 

The “Bad” is hopefully good news, not bad news senario tonight. Carlos Pena was running out a grounder to third and began to pull up as he was about to cross the bag. He did not show any signs of discomfort on his face on the field, but was replaced by Eric Hinske in the bottom of the inning.

 

Early prognosis is a hamstring tightening. Hopefully, it is just a hot tub and a series of ice packs for Carlos and we can see him facing the  Chicago White Sox tomorrow night.  Keep your fingers crossed fans.

 

                                          The Ugly

 

Only two Rays did not get a hit tonight, Carlos Pena and catcher Mike DeFelice. Carlos is now hitting at a low of 179 for the year. DeFelice might not have gotten a hit, but he called a great game behind the plate for the Rays.

 

The pick off of Carl Crawford at first in the Top of the 6th inning was not a rally killer. Carl had already been leaning toward second and just got caught  starting to make his move toward second base. That is the price you pay for being a  great basestealer.  Thank goodness we were already leading 7-3 at the time.

 

Former Rays’s Player of the Night:

Since there were no great batting ex-players, I am going to list a few of our former reliever who saw action tonight.

* Jesus Colome, who is pitching for the Washington Nationals, went 2 inning tonight and gave up only 1 hit.

                                                            

* Seth McClung, who is with the Milwaukee Brewers, went 3 innings and gave up 2 hits. Seth also recordrd two strikeouts for the night.

                                                                       

* Jorge Sosa, who is with the New York Mets, was pitching in the Top of the 14th inning and has gone 2.2 innings with two hits and two strikeouts.

Disney bobbleheads for the fans in the Orlando series against the Blue Jays

 

The Rays are flying back home as we speak, and we will begin another homestand of sorts tomorrow night. The Rays’ will play three against the Chicago White Sox, then go to Disney World for a three game series against our divisional rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays.

See you at the Trop.

If you have any questions, or want to know anything about the Rays, feel free to comment or contact me and I will be sure to get that information to you as soon as possible.

 

Mental Errors Cost Rays

 

Rays 5, Twins 6

 

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Trivia fact for the Night:

Eddie Matthews is the only person to play for a franchise in three cities: Boston, Milwalkee,and Atlanta

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                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                 Jonny Gomes upends Twins second baseman Brendan Harris on a stolen base attempt, but Harris hangs on to make the out.

 

                                           The Good

 

Top “Good” honors go to the Rays offense tonight who  produced 10 hits  tonight off  Twins pitchers. Leading the charge tonight with Homeruns were: Carl Crawford(2), Shawn Riggans(2),and Eric Hinske(3).

 

Honorable Mentions for the Night:

* The Rays also activiated lefty  Kurt Birkins from the DL. Birkins came in to pitch in the 6th inning and retired the first four batters he saw on 9 pitches.

 

** B J Upton hit a single to center that score Carl Crawford to help the Rays regain the lead 3-2 in the Top of the 5th inning. Upton’s hit helped him raise his average to .304 for the season.

*** Carl Crawford also hit a double  in the game and raised his average to .239.  Crawford also scored two runs and had an RBI himself tonight.

 

                                                    The Bad

 

Dan Wheeler did not deserve the loss tonight to the Twins. Mental mistakes or shortcomings by Rays outfielders made the difference in the game tonight. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Delmon Young singles to center. Former Ray, Brendan Harris is the next to bat.

 

Brendan lifted a ball to the rightfield fouline that should have been caught by Hinske. Hinske can not sprint to the ball, and  it drops in for a single that advanced Delmon to third base. Twins third baseman Mark Lamb then hit a sacrifice fly to left that Crawford caught in foul territory,  Delmon then tagged up and scored to regain the lead 6-5 for the Twins.

 

If Crawford had let that foul ball drop to the turf, Delmon would not have been able to advance to score the winning run. Of course this is all hindsight because we do not know what type of out /hit Mark Lamb might have produced after that swing.

 

For that reason alone, the two critical defensive lapses, Dan Wheeler,  should not have had to take a loss in this contest..

 

                                         The Ugly

 

I have three minor “Uglies” to mention tonight.

 

*** Jason Bartlett again produced an error on the throw to first against Delmon Young in the bottom of the 5th inning. The reason this is big, Delmon recieved two RBI’s when Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau scored to up the score to 5-3 Twins. 

 

Worst yet, there were 2 outs at the time. A good throw to Carlos Pena would have ended the inning with the score still 3-3. By the Way, Bartlett improved his average to .196 for the year.

 

** Carlos Pena went 0-3 tonight and saw his average sink to .185. In a year where we are seeing hitters like Boston’s David Ortiz and the Yankees Robinson Cano, the hitting of Pena is staggering to this potential offense. 

 

I know Carlos is seeing alot more off-speed and breaking balls because of his quick Home Run start, but the guy is a professional and the adjustments need to be made now before they get to his mind.

 

*  Defensive lapses have cost us a few games this season. Tonight’s contest is not exception to that rule. Two outfield mental errors gave way to the winning run for the Twins.

 

Another throwing error, Bartlett’s third of the season led to the Twins taking the lead in the 5th inning.  Ben Zobrist must be kicking himslef for his injury right now, because he would be the starting shortstop on my squad without a doubt right now.

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

 

When the Rays traded lefty pitcher Mark Hendrickson to the L A Dodgers, they might have thought they would not see the tall guy for a while. Hendrickson caught on with the cross state rival, the Florida Marlins and improved his record to 3-1 for the year. Mark worked 5.1 inning tonight with 6 hits and 3 runs.

 

ALERT: At the time of my blog, Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton was 4-7 with 2 RBI’s in their game with the Toronto Blue Jays, but since that game went  into extra innings (14) , I took the big guy from the fish for my nightly former Rays guy.

 

The Empire Strikes Back…..Again

 

Yankees 5, Rays 3

 

                                Click Image to Enlarge



I give credit where credit is due.  The Evil Empire came in and played two great game against us. Now back to the blog.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to purchase their own airplane in January 1957.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C           The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C         The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C      The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 11 x 17 Masterprint Poster - Foreign - Style C

                                  

                                         The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly.

 

                                           The Ageless Good  

 

I have to admit, when the Rays
announced earlier in the Spring that they signed Mike DeFelice to a
minor league contract, I thought it might be as a coach. As many of you
know, Mike was one of the original  catchers with the 1997 team.
DeFelice has been around the block a few times and has had his shares
of ups and downs.


But, this season when Dioner
Navarro went down with his freak accident in New York, it was a godsend
that Mike was there to fill the spot. Since he has come on, De Felice
has hit .429 in his short time up with the Rays this season. In that time, Mike has collected 4
RBI’s in his 10 at bats. That is right, Mike has only batted 14 times
this season and has driven in 4 runs as a backup to Shawn Riggans.
DeFelice is also carrying a .929 OPS with him this time up with the
Rays.

Mike is a superb game caller and
is an instant coach for these young pitchers. He has the insight and
the ability to see the trouble brewing and try and squash it before it
festers and get nasty.


For that reason, Mike is my main “Good” guy of the night. I do have a few other who needs some press as Honorable Mentions:


***       Rays First baseman Carlos Pena
saved a few runs with his great glove work at first tonight. First he
stopped a rocket off the bat of  the Yankees’  Robinson Cano.  Pena
snuffed the play diving to his left just shy of the line and stepped on
the bag to squash the Yankees efforts in the Top of the 6th Inning.


**       Designated Hitter Jonny Gomes
continues to be on a RBI tear as he had another tonight and went 2-4 to
raise his average to .296.


*       The first star goes to the team
for their display of spirit and team unity by all wearing Jackie
Robinson’s number “42″ this season. Last year only Carl Crawford wore
the retired number of the first African-American to play in the MLB.


Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.



“It’s an honor the way certain clubs are wearing 42 — the whole
team, like our team,” Zimmer said. “I just look back and just think of
how lucky I am to play on the same team with him.

“I wasn’t there in the early days, when he really had to go
through hell, as they say; it had lessened by the time I got there, but
it was still tough. He had to be a very strong man, to go through the
whole ordeal that he went through, no doubt.”

                                         

                                                        The Bad


Tonight’s game showed a few spots
in the Rays armor that need to improve if this team is to tackle the
upward climb in the American League East. The Rays knocked out 10 hits
tonight, but left 9 men stranded on the base paths.


In order for this team to win “the
close ones”, like the last two games, they will need to figure out that
formula that is missing when the pressure is on for runs.  I am not
demeaning the coaching staff or the players here, I just see a glaring
issue that might just be a simple adjustment in mindset or thinking on
the field at times.



I have all the confidence in the world that this problem will be solved soon, and with great results.

                                    The Ugly

 


I never saw our team lay down and
quit tonight, or even show signs of let down, but the faces on the
Bullpen bench were speaking volumes from my sight line. It was a face
like, “Here we go again.” That mental clog can fester into a
bad attitude and confidence for our relievers. I know they are not the
kind of guys to quit, or even not make the ultimate performance for
their squad.


I just know from playing on
borderline losing teams in High School and College, that the mindset
can destroy even the best of intentions. I know who;s faces had that
look, and one was inserted in the game tonight.


This team is so much better than
our record. And we better start believing that, or we will be looking
up at four teams the rest of the season. I believe in this team. I have 100
percent confidence in their abilities and skills. And I want to be here
to celebrate the highs with them in September or beyond. 

                            


Let’s Go Rays  (Banging my cowbell)

 


Former Rays Player of the Night:

 

Julio Lugo of the Boston Red Sox is my former Rays
player of the night for going 3-4 tonight in the Sox’s 5-3 victory over
the Cleveland Indians. Lugo is currently batting .280 for the season and has 14 hits already for the year.

 

The Rays are leaving town tonight for the cool confines of the Metro dome for two games against the Minnesota Twins. This is the first regular season series for the teams,
and the first time these teams have played since their big trade this
past off season that sent Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to the North
country.


Both games will be on television, so check your local lisitngs or MLB TV.


See you at the Trop. on Friday to welcome Ozzie Guillen
and his Chicago White Sox into town for a weekend series. This weekend,
former Ray Toby Hall should see action behind the plate.



Wild, Wild Night at the OK Tropicana

Yankees 8, Rays 7



You have to admit here, that was the kind of game you want to tell your grand kids about when you are old and gray.


First the visitors’ take a starter deep not once, twice, but three
times early on and the score seems lopsided. The the home squad kicks
and scratches its way to a tie, then a long ball decides the outcome
late in the game.  More on what happened after the Trivia fact.


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On May 30, 1946, Bama Rowell was
the first person to hit the Bulova clock in Ebbetts Field. Some say
that was the inspiration for the scoreboard scene in “The Natural.”

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*

                                The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly

                        

                                         


                                                          The Good

 



There
were a few great plays tonight that could have garnished the top spot,
but since he has come up, Evan Longoria has done almost nothing wrong. Tonight
he got his first Homer in the Trop. in front of the home folks and it
was a wild sight indeed.  Longoria is currently hitting a
blistering .444.

Longoria’s
shot tied the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the 7th inning and sent the
crowd in a flurry of emotions. Before this inning, the Rays were down
to the Yankees  7-2 and did not show signs of waking the offense up
tonight. But, the 7th inning was special tonight. Rays
shortstop Jason Bartlett started the inning by smashing a ball off Ian
Kennedy’s hip for a  single.  The infield single knocked Kennedy out
of  the game and reliever Billy Traber came in to pitch.

One batter
later, Carl Crawford connected on his first homer of the year, a two
run shot to get the score closer, 7-4.  Up came Rays slugger Carlos
Pena, who then walked and B J Upton slammed another two run homer to
close in on the Yankees 7-6.


That set the stage for Longoria’s solo homer to tie the score.


Honorable mention Kudos of the Night:

***            Rays reliever Scott Dohmann came in with the bases loaded and did not give up a run during his 3.2 innings of work.


**             B J Upton raised his average to .313 by going 2-5 tonight and stealing a base.


*            
Major Kudos to the Rays Carl Crawford for his 3 RBI’s, Two on his
homer, and one on a Sacrifice Fly to deep left field bullpen area that
scored Nathan Haynes from third base.  Carl went 2-4 and showed
remarkable improvement at the plate.


 

                                                       The Bad

                                                 


Andy
Sonnanstine never seemed to be in a rhythm tonight. In the first inning
alone, Sonnanstine gave up a lead off  solo homer to Johnny Damon, and
then another to Alex Rodriquez. The worst part is the homer was A-Rod’s
521st homer, which tied him with Ted Williams and Willy McCovey for
15th on the All-time  Home Run list.

                      Reliever Al Reyes waits for a new ball after making one bad pitch, a changeup that Robinson Cano launched deep into the rightfield stands for the eventual winning home run in the eighth.



Rays
reliever Al Reyes came in the top of the 8th inning to help preserve
the tie for the Rays. In that inning, Reyes gave up a pinch-hit homer
to Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano. Before the home run, Cano was
batting .170 for the year.

                                                The Really Ugly



I was going to gripe about B J Upton’s fifth base running error in 5 games, but instead I have another bone to pick tonight.



The
Yankees series have always been one of the best attended series of the
year for the Rays. The announced attendance for tonight’s Monday night
game was 18,872, which would put the Trop. at 47.5 percent full. It
used to be a predestined thing that this series would hit the money
tree for the Rays. But if this Monday game is any indication, then the
upcoming Yankees series that runs from Monday, May 12- 15, should be
another below par for attendance.


On
May 15th, that contest will be on a Thursday afternoon with a start
time of 4:10 PM. I know this start time is to give the Rays ample 
airline travel time to their next Inter-Leaque series in St. Louis,
Missouri that  Friday night. It
is just that the schedule looks like the local Yankee fans will be
shortchanged this year with the only other visit to the Trop for the
pinstripes coming on another weekday series from Sept. 2-4th.


In comparison, the Chicago White Sox have two weekend series, the first from April 18-20, and another from May 29-31st.

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

                                                 

Twin Left fielder Delmon Young is my ex-Ray of the night.

In
tonight’s 11-9 loss to the Detroit tigers, Delmon went 3-5 with two
RBI’s and a stolen base. Young also score 3 runs tonight. Delmon is
currently hitting at a modest .280.

Another Twin having a great night was second baseman Brendan Harris who went 2-4 with 2 RBI’s and is hitting .351 for the year.

 

Don’t
forget the second and final game against the “Evil Empire” is tomorrow
night at 7:10 PM. Let’s see if we can get behind Rays pitcher Edwin
Jackson and cheer him on to his third victory of the season.

See you at the Trop!!! 

 

 

 

Rays Beat Back Birds 6-2

Orioles 2, Rays 6

You know, earlier in the year going .500 so early in the season
would be a upsetting situation. But with nine (9) current Rays players
on the disabled list, and a few hurting but gutting their way through
the games, it is totally satisfying at this moment. If we can go .500
without the big guns, what could happen when the firepower is back to
normal and the trigger is set……………..think about that for a
moment here.

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Trivia fact for the day


Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in the same game. He did it for the Atlanta Braves on July 3,1966.

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                                       The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly

                             

B J Upton is starting to come into his own
at the plate.  Today he hit a monumental 3-run homer in the bottom of
the 5th inning. Upton also raised his average to .302 today, its
highest point in over a week. B J’s home run came in the 5th inning
where the Rays ignited and scored all of their 6 runs of the game.

 

Honorable mentions for “Good” today: 



                                                      



*          Jeff Niemann tossed  93 pitches today, in which the Orioles only scored  a lone run and scattered 6 hits against him.


This help Niemann collect his first MLB win.  At 6’9″, Niemann  got the ball down
consistantly during the game, and never got himself into a bad jam. The
lone run he gave up was to Baltimores’ Nick Markakis, who homered to
left field in the top of the 6th inning.

**        Rays outfielder Carl Crawford collected
two RBI’s today also in the 5th when he singled to center field and
Justin Ruggiano and Mike DeFelice scored to make it 3-0 before B J
Upton’s at bat. B J also currently has 11 RBI’s for the year and is in
the top 10 in the American League in that category.


***        Third baseman Evan Longoria (E-Love)
also collected another
hit today and walked and eventually scored a run
in the Rays big 5th innning today.

                                             The Bad

I know I have written about this
before, and I was chatting with a Rays broadcast guy and I have come
upon the conclusion that B J Upton has a “green light” when he is on the
bases. For those not knowing the phrase, a player having a “green
light” can make decisions for himself about base running and advancing
on plays after a ball is hit.  That is becoming more and more apparent
with each of his base running blunders.


Today it was a stagger step that cost him an extra base.  He was not caught stealing today, so I will be kind to him.



Another “Bad” that is starting to
rear its ugly head is the fact that Dan Wheeler is in a weird funk. I
saw a ball kinda float today and it did not get hit a ton, but it was a
great contact out, and could have been trouble for us.  I am not saying
there is a mechanics situation here, I am not a pitching coach. But,
with that said, I know it was a ball that could have been crushed if
the player got good wood on it. Last night a change-up that stayed in
the zone was crushed for the winning run.

                                              The Ugly

Not a lot of Ugly here except in
the starting shortstops batting average, and his wild throws at times.
Jason Bartlett should count his stars that he has a world class first
baseman like Carlos Pena. Pena had dug out a few balls that past first
baseman would have watched  the ball skirt to the wall or beyond.

That combined with his .158
average at this moment is cause for early worry. This is the guy we
were counting on for solid play and a good bat in the field.

 Ben Zobrist is still out for a
period of time after they inserted a pin in his broken finger to help
it heal better and faster. Until that time, we are limited to Bartlett
and Johnson at short, with neither player showing offensive numbers at
this time.


Former Rays Player of the Day:


I know it is early in the afternoon, but I am going to pick my former Rays player of the game for today.

It has to be Josh Hamilton of the Texas
Rangers. All of us Rays fans remember Josh as the hier apparent to
Right field before Delmon Young entered the picture.  Josh has been
hitting good this year and he is showing the talent we all knew he had
in prior Spring Training and minor league games.

During this afternoons’ game against the
Toronto Blue Jays, Hamilton has two RBI’s and hit a homer run to right
in the bottom of the 4th inning. He also singled and drove in Ian
Kinsler in the bottom of the first.

Hamilton is currently tied with the Rays Carlos Pena for first with 13 RBIs    

 



The forecast for tomorrow game is:

Ugly with a change for a smashing good time.  With that said, come
on out to the Trop. and watch your .500 Rays take on the “Evil Empire”
from the Bronx in a 7:10 PM Monday night game.


 

 


You know the Cowbell kid will be there to send kisses and wishes to his pal Joe Giardi and Shelly Duncan.



Post Script:

I want to thank Edwin Jackson, JP
Howell, Scott Dohmann and Andy Sonnastine for taking the all that time
today to sign for the 12 Little Leagues and their  players that were at
the ballgame.


Each of these Rays players stayed
out there a long time and signed everything put in front of them. I
even got a few autographs I was missing for my Rays collection. I even
saw Evan Longoria out there after stretching on the wall signing and
jawing with the Rays hopefuls.



So, as a Season Ticket holder and
a great Rays follower, Thank you gentleman for showing class and
community love by taking your time to show the kids of all ages
in Tampa Bay you are there for them……….

Perfect Sunday for baseball under the Dome

Orioles 2, Rays 6

 

 

You know, earlier in the year going .500 so early in the season would be a upsetting situation. But with nine (9) current Rays players on the disablied list, and a few hurting but gutting their way through the games, it is totally satisfying at this moment. If we can go .500 without the big guns, what could happen when the firepower is back to normal and the trigger is set……………..think about that for a moment here.

 

 

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Trivia fact for the day

 

Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in the same game. He did it for the Atlanta Braves on July 3,1966.

 

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                                        The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly

                             

B J Upton is starting to come into his own at the plate.  Today he hit a monumental 3-run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning. Upton also raised his average to .302 today, its highest point in over a week. B J’s home run came in the 5th inning where the Rays ignited and scored all of their 6 runs of the game.

 

Honorable mentions for “Good” today:

 

                                                

 

*   Jeff Neimann tossed  93 pitches today, in which the Orioles only scored  a lone run and scattered 6 hits against him. This help Neimann collect his first MLB win.  At 6’9″, Neimann  got the ball down consistantly during the game, and never got himself into a bad jam. The lone run he gave up was to Baltimores’ Nick Markakis, who homered to left field in the top of the 6th inning.

 

** Rays outfielder Carl Crawford collected two RBI’s today also in the 5th when he singled to centerfield and Justin Ruggiano and Mike DeFelice scored to make it 3-0 before BJ Uptons at bat. BJ also currently has 11 RBI’s for the year and is in the top 10 in the American League in that category.

 

*** Third baseman Evan Longoria(E-Love) also collected another hit today and walked and eventually scored a run in the Rays big 5th innning today.

 

                                             The Bad

 

I know I have written about this before, and I was chatting with a Rays broadcast guy and I have come upon the conclusion that BJ Upton has a “green light” when he is on the bases. For those not knowing the phrase, a player having a “green light” can make decisions for himself about baserunning and advancing on plays after a ball is hit.  That is becoming more and more apparent with each of his baserunning blunders.

 

Today it was a stagger step that cost him an extra base.  He was not caught stealing today, so I will be kind to him.

 

Another “Bad” that is starting to rear its ugly head is the fact that Dan Wheeler is in a weird funk. I saw a ball kinda float today and it did not get hit a ton, but it was a great contact out, and could have been trouble for us.  I am not saying there is a mechanics situation here, I am not a pitching coach. But, with that said, I know it was a ball that could have been crushed if the player got good wood on it. Last night a change-up that stayed in the zone was crushed for the winning run.

 

 

                                              The Ugly

 

Not alot of Ugly here except in the starting shortstops batting average, and his wild throws at times. Jason Bartlett should count his stars that he has a world class first baseman like Carlos Pena. He had dug out a few balls that past first baseman would have watched  the ball skirt to the wall or beyond.

 

That combined with his .158 average at this moment is cause for early worry. This is the guy we were counting on for solid play and a good bat in the field.

 

Ben Zobrist is still out for a period of time after they inserted a pin in his broken finger to help it heal better and faster. Until that time, we are limited to Bartlett and Johnson at short, with neither player showing offensive numbers at this time.

 

 

Former Rays player of the Day.

 

I know it is early in the afternoon, but I am going to pick my former Rays player of the game for today.

It has to be Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. All of us Rays fans remember Josh as the hier apparent to Rightfield before Delmon Young entered the picture.  Josh has been hitting good this year and he is showing the talent we all knew he had in prior Spring Training and minor league games.

During this afternoons’ game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Hamilton has two RBI’s and hit a homer run to right in the bottom of the 4th inning. He also singled and drove in Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the first.

Hamilton is currently tied with the Rays Carlos Pena for first with 13 RBIs    

 

 

The forecast for tomorrow game is:

Ugly with a change for a smashing good time.  With that said, come on out to the Trop. and watch your .500 Rays take on the “Evil Empire” from the Bronx in a 7:10 PM Monday night game. 

 

 

 

You know the Cowbell kid will be there to send kisses and wishes to his pal Joe Giardi and Shelly Duncan.

 

Post Script:

 

I want to thank Edwin Jackson, JP Howell, Scott Dohmann and Andy Sonnastine for taking the all that time today to sign for the 12 Little Leagues and their  players that were at the ballgame.

 

Each of these Rays players stayed out there a long time and signed everything put in front of them. I even got a few autographs I was missing for my Rays collection. I even saw Evan Longoria out there after stretching on the wall signing and jawing with the Rays hopefuls.

 

So, as a Season Ticket holder and a great Rays follower, Thank you gentleman for showing class and community love by taking your time to show the kids of all ages in Tampa Bay you are there for them……….

Rays Lose Close One 3-2

 

Well, it is that time of the night/day that I tell you my thoughts and opinions on the latest Rays loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. But first, We have to give you some good trivia to make you smile and want to attend Jeff Niemann’s MLB pitching debut tomorrow.

 

 

 

Trivia Question:

***********************************************************************************************************************************************

 

In 1931, Chick Hafey of the St. Louis Cardinals became the first batting champion to wear glasses.

 

***********************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly     The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

Now back to our normally scheduled The Good the Bad, and the Ugly for tonights game.

 

 

                                              The Good

 

The  mire presence of Rays top prospect Evan Longoria must have made an impression on the Rays hopeful fans who do not usually attend games.

 

The Rays experienced  almost a 20 percent increase over attendance from the Friday night contest. I am going to attribute that to the arrival of Longoria tonight, and no the free Rays visors given out to the fans. Evan did almost everything right tonight in his pro debut.  He signed a ball for me after Batting Pratice( again, thank you Evan), he handled the ball numerous times and the throws were tight and on target. And he got a single tonight and his first RBI to top it all off.

 

 

It was a chore just to get the ball for him again. I am getting the impression that the Orioles do not like to give the balls back after major feats, or a rookies first hit, or RBI.  the ball was finally retrieved before we had to send Jonny Gomes over there for it.The  fact that Evan is here will ease the defense about the hot corner. I know from playing third base, it can make or break your ball club in who is manning that spot. If the player has the reactions of a cat, the Hot Corner can be your best friend to your ball club. I personally think it will be manned by Longoria for a long time.

 

But then again, we thought current Oriole and former Ray, Aubrey Huff was the second coming of Wade Boggs.

 

 

*** Rays Designated Hitter/Rightfielder Jonny Gomes cam up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th tonight and the crowd was on their seats looking for a tying run from the bomber.  Jonny connected on a George Sherrill pitch hit to right field, but it fell just short of the wall for an out.

 

The crowd was totally into the at bat, and the entire Rays and O’s fans in attendance were holding their breath when Gomes hit that monster.

 

 

** The hitting of Centerfielder BJ Upton tonight pulled his average up to above .300 again. Upton is seeing the ball better and his contact with the ball is crisp and on the head right now. I am going to predict he will go on a 10 game hitting streak from tonight on………..knock on good wood everyone.

 

 

*The number one Kudo of the night belongs to Evan, but Carlos Pena did nothing to even sit in the shades tonight. In the earlier innings, Carlos snagged a ball going down the first baseline at a backwards angle, and got the runner with a throw to pitcher Jason Hammel. It was a super play, and should be on the Top 10 plays of the night on ESPN without a doubt.

 

In his next at bat, the crowd was calling for a Home Run. And Carlos did not disappoint his fans this night.  He hit a solo homer to right field that would have cleared any ballpark in the MLB.   Currently, Pena is leading the American League with 5 homers, and is tied for first within RBI’s with Blue Jays Vernon Well for the lead with 12.

 

 

                                             The Bad

 

 

There really wasn’t alot of bad tonight by any one player. There was a few bad moments. And for that reason, I am going to just list three plays that changed the course of the game for the Rays.

 

***  A  series of misplayed flyballs to deep Right Center  by BJ Upton and  Nathan Haynes gave the Orioles  DH Aubrey Huff a ground rule double, and two batter later, Ramon Hernandez got  a triple after some confusion in the outfield.

 

**   The Orioles had brought in Chad Bradford, a sidearm slinging pitcher who seems to hit the top of the dirt during his delivery into the contest. BJ upton managed to get a bunt single to third and was sitting on first base. Bradford has a weird pitching style, and a even wilder pick-off move.

 

It appeared to me that Bradford had twice before shufflied his right rear foot on the rubber before he throws to first base.  BJ did not pick up on this and was cuaght in bewteen first and second for a “caught stealing” attempt. I mention this, because I wonder if BJ sometimes is too aggressive. The reasoning for this, is that he has had three baserunning errors in the past three games. The fact he was caught stealing on this occasion would not have produced a run, but maybe a slight moment of concentration loss is to blame here.

 

* The Rays brought in reliever Dan Wheeler for Trever Miller.  It was 2 outs in the top of the 9th innig with no one on base. Wheeler then served up a home run ball to leftfield for Ramon Hernandez.   He is currently batting .194, and got two RBI’s and a triple and homer tonight against our pitching staff.

 

 

                                       The Ugly

 

The ugly tonight is the baserunning situations that have cost the Rays some runs in the last few games. I have already talked about one of them in the above “Bad” section.  Willy Aybar was hurt when he slide into home after running through a stop sign by  third base coachTom Foley.  In the slide st home, Aybar aggrevated his hamstring and is on the 15 day DL for his actions. Not only BJ Upton, but other Rays have been caught in ” no man’s land” this year by over running the bases, or testing the arms of outfielders in the division.

 

I am all for testing the arms of the players, and triyng to be aggressive at times, but do these players have a  personal “green light” to moonlight decisions on the base paths, or do they just mis read the sign sometimes.

 

There was one play tonight that caught my eye and I am pleased to see it work out for the better.  There was a hit and run play called with BJ Upton on second and Eric Hinske up to bat.  BJ Upton was on the move and Hinske hit a beautiful ball to left center to move BJ to third. During the next at bat, Evan Longoria hit the ball to left field and scored Upton.

 

I guess you just have to play the odds sometimes when you are running the bases. But at  this early junction in the year, are the actions worth a possible loss……….we shall keep this in our sights and see what develops here.

 

 

Rays Former Player of the Day

 

Current second baseman Brendan Harris of the Minnesota Twins is batting .367.

Tonight he was 2-4 with a pair of singles. He also was the pivot man for a 5-4-3 double play to end tonights win for the Twins.    

 

 

 

 

Evan Longoria to Debut Tomorrow

***************************************************************************************************************************************


Trivia for the Day

Rays’  Left fielder Carl Crawford got his 1,000 hit tonight. That is a major
feat for the 26 year old.


Which two pitchers gave up the most hits to All-time Hits King Pete Rose?

Phil Niekro( 64 hits) and Don Sutton ( 60 hits).

****************************************************************************************************************************************


 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print             The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print                   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print

                                    The
Good
The Bad,and The Ugly

                                                                     

                                                 The Good

       

 


It was a perfect night to be a Tampa Bay
Rays fan. You saw a wild pitching performance by both starters until
they settled down, then they  took command of the plate for awhile. Then the
sleeping Rays bats came alive like a lightning bolt and tore into the Orioles
pitchers’. It was a night where the longest tenured Ray,
Carl Crawford got his 1,000th hit in the 7th inning off Orioles reliever Jamie
Walker.

 

Crawford  became just the 8th active player
to reach the 1,000 hit mark at 26 or younger. He is in an elite crowd that
includes, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert
Pujols.  But Carl’s great feat was not the only bright
spot in this night. The top honor goes to:

The Rays' B.J. Upton congratulates Carlos Pena after Pena and Carl Crawford, right, score on the first baseman's two-run homer in the first.    


Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.


Carlos had a  personal hand in helping the
Rays score their first 6 runs tonight.  And he did it in perfect “El Presidente”
fashion. Carlos belted two home runs, which accounted
for 5 Rays runs, then he walked with the bases loaded to  help record his  6th
RBI of the night. At a time when the Rays first four batters
were going into a short dry spell, the bunch lifted their team and their
battting averages to help the Rays even their season record at
5-5.


But there were many stars of this game. I
could name almost every member of the team who pitched or batted tonight, but
here is a select three for your viewing pleasure.

                                    


***  Recently acquired Right Fielder, Nathan
Haynes went 3-5 and stole a base tonight  and while on base,o put pressure on
the Orioles pitchers because of his base stealing ability.


** Center fielder BJ Upton  got a few lucky
breaks and bounces tonight to go  3-5 himself, and also collect 2 RBI’s in the
later innings. Upton also got the good fortune of a wild play at second to
record his first Outfield assist of the year.


B J was throwing home to get a advancing
runner, when Carlos Pena cut off the ball and toss it to second base. The only
problem was there was no one there at the moment to receive the ball. Out of
nowhere come a leaping Jason Bartlett to tag Ramon Hernandez sliding into second
base.  A wild play indeed.  Worthy of a ESPN Top 10
slot.

                            

 

* The number one honorable mention has to go
to Rays management and Andrew Friedman for finally seeing the light and bringing
up uber third base prospect Evan Longoria. Just because he as a sexy name, do not get
confused that he is a pretty boy, or not a guy chomping at the bit to get his
MLB career going.


I personally think that the Rays walk up 
game attendance will go up 10-20 percent in this one game because of his MLB
debut. Who would not want to be at the debut of such a talented and well
received player. ESPN’s Peter Gammons and Buster Onley have
nothing but praise about this kid, and I , personally, have been impressed by
his demeanor and his professionalism during Spring Training. I think in 10 years I can say with total
confidence that I will be glad to be at his first game EVER at this
level.

                                            The Bad



In a game like this, it is hard to harp or
even want to put a “bad” on here, but I have a concern that I want to address
here. James Shields is currently our top of the
rotation guy. I know he is hitting a few rough patches, but he had some serious
control and location  problems for the first two innings of this
game.


He is currently posting a 3.00 ERA, which is
respectable and shows he is improving more and more every outing. I had to find
a “bad” in all the great and good moments of this game. I know that Shields just
had an off night, and I will not spout stats or problems I see here tonight. I
want to celebrate the fact we are starting to gel and need to just enjoy the
moment tonight.


With that in mind, I do have two really ugly
moments tonight


.

                                                    The Ugly

The first ugly is the fact it was $ 1.00 hot
dog night at the Trop. Now, I did not tackle or even try and top my previous
record of 15 dogs. I decided my girlfriend likes a more svelte and more
attractive guy, so I only had 5 dogs ( With kraut, spicy mustard and relish, No
ketchup ). But the people around me must have had  a
really bad  kraut and spicy mustard  dog jones, because after the game I saw
hundreds and hundreds of those aluminum wrappers all over my section of the
stadium.  I even saw two by the Bullpen. Maybe one of the guys could smell all
those dogs and had to get one for himself.

The carnage of those wrappers and the smell
of cooking meat in that stadium would send a vegetarian to their graves.  No
tofu dogs tonight. All American, Red,White and Blue, Hebrew National Hot Dogs.


I wonder if the buns are
kosher?


The second “Ugly” kind of ticked me off. It
was a bunch of closet Yankee fans heckling Al Reyes about the events that
unfolded the prior night. The guys decided to take it upon themselves
to try and humiliate and intimidate Reyes while he was warming up on the
mound. I guess these guys were out getting their
first beer when Reyes apologized to the team, its fans and anyone who would
accept. Al is a great guy and an outstanduing asset to this team.


Every one of us has made a mistake and it was
not played up on your Television screen. The only effects Reyes showed the fans
from last night was the cut on the side of his nose that he received in the
incident. The heckles went over the line and the fans
began to turn on them. I think they also felt that these guys had finally
crossed that line into vulgar, drunken-ize that tends to upset eveyone within
the sound of their voices.


The stadium security and St. Petersburg
Police Department stepped in and reminded the guys that it was within their
rights to banish them from future events at the field if they continued their
assault on Reyes character. I have to say, I stood up and looked the one
guy in the eye and he had commented to others, “What you going to do about it,”
but he did not say that to me.



Former Rays player of the
night.

                     
  


I have decided, since it is my blog and I can rewrite the
rules, I will present the best performance by an ex-Rays ballboy instead
tonight.


While attending Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg,
Florida, Jesse Litsch was a Rays bat boy. During that time he spent hours with
the pitchers and the coaches on improving his pitches and hoping to some day
pursue a professional career. Jesse has now been in the majors for almost one year, and is
currently in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation. He is off to a great start this
year and I am going to showcase his effort tonight against the Texas
Rangers.


He pitched 5.2 innings tonight and allowed 6 hits and 2 runs. He
also had  5 strikeouts in the game. Jesse only threw 93 pitches before leaving
with a lead tonight. The Blue Jays won the game, and Jesse improved to 2-0 for
the season. The reason he is showcased is for the younger ball players to
know that even though you are playing Little League right now, if you want it
bad enough, you can achieve it.


And only 4 short years ago, Jesse was thinking the same thoughts
while guarding the Rays Bullpen catcher and the staff from balls in
play……and now he is wearing a MLB jersey every day.

 

 

An Afternoon Celebration

****************************************************************************************************************************************


Daily Trivia fact.

On August 23,1953, Phil Paine became the
first ex-major-leaguer to play baseball professionally in
Japan.

****************************************************************************************************************************************


Now onto today’s edition of The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly


.

   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print               The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print            The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Framed Art Print

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

                                        



                                                 The
Really, Really Good     



Edwin Jackson has been feeling more at ease
on the mound in recent outings, and today he turned in a gem of a pitching
performance for the Rays.   Jackson pitched 8 innings of two-hit ball and with
the help of   lefty reliever Trevor Miller closed out a 7-0 shutout of the
Seattle Mariners.


The Mariners accounted for  only three hits
all day, with   Mariners’ third baseman, Adrian Beltre getting two hits. In the effort, Jackson lower his ERA to an
impressive .064, and had 6 strikeouts for the day.  He was effectively getting
his pitches over and was in cool command of the mound today. The small afternoon crowd even boo-ed Rays
Manager Joe Maddon’s decision to not let Edwin get the complete game. In the
post game interview, Jackson looked relaxed and  showed a renewed air of
confidence.

                                                Way to go “Action!!!!”     



Honorable Mentions
Kudos
:

 

*** Jonny Gome went 2-2 with 2 runs scored,
and upped his average to .294 for the year.



** Carl Crawford made a diving backhand catch
on a dying ball hit to left center field in the Top of the 4th to end the Seattle
inning.



* Rays backup catcher, Mike DeFelice went
2-4, with both hits being broken bat singles.  He also had 3 RBIs for the day.
And to top it off, he called a great game behind the plate giving Edwin a great
target to pitch to all day.


                                         
The Bad

                        

For a change, the bad will be short and hopefully to the
point here.  The first four batters in the Rays order today did some damage,
but  we still have two of our prime hitters under the Mendoza line for the
season.  Akinora Iwamura had two hits today to
raise his average to .222, which is
tops for the first four hitters.


A hopeful sign for a positive weekend series, is the
sheer fact all four scored at least one run today. This might be a sign that the
sleeping giant is awaking again. The only other Bad thing U have to add, is the fact that
Hillsborough County kids have this week off for Spring Break, and the Trop. was
only 28.8 percent full. That worked out to 11,898 souls if you were wondering.
That is better than a week night game, but I would have expected a bit more
people to trot over and do an afternoon under the dome.


                                         The Really Ugly



I was hoping I might not have an “ugly” after such a
great game today, but such is life. It is a recycled event that has plagued this
team for almost a week now.


Another player has been in the Training room today with
Ron Porterfield and is showing signs of pain. After his great game last night,
Rays third baseman Willy Aybar was scratched from the game with soreness in the
hamstring area. Aybar has been fighting a hamstring situation since the
beginning of Spring Training and might have reinjured his leg during  his slide
into home plate last night.

“He’s been getting all the treatments, doing all the right things, he’s
been working his butt off to stay out there,” Maddon said. “It’s just that play
took a little bit out of him.” Those are the kind of things that really mess you up,” Maddon said. “He’s
been sore the last couple days and he’s been playing through the cold weather
… just extended on that play and he just felt it a little bit.” Maddon, always the wordsmith, even put a
positive spin on the latest injury.


“Right now we are way up there on ice — ice and injections,” Maddon said.

In the meantime, Eric Hinske will probably
get most of the reps at third until Aybar return. Hinske broke in at third base with the
Toronto Blue Jays and has ample experience for the
position.



Former Rays spotlight of the
night:


The former Ray who is in the spotlight is Astros starting pitcher
Brandon Backe. He was seen during last night’s batting practice jawing with
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. It seems that Backe to exception the 8th
inning play the previous night during a home plate situation where Pujols roughed up rookie
catcher J R Towles .

Pujols collided with Towles hard that inning and while first
looking like a clean play,not everyone took it that way. We can bet Brandon was in the “not clean” group about the hard
slide.



Tomorrow  The Baltimore Orioles and former
Ray Aubrey Huff brings their merry band of closet Karaoke men to the Trop for a
three game series.  This should be an interesting series for both
teams.

      

Blown Chances and a Lopsided Score

Here is my Trivia nugget before I get to my Good,the Bad,and the Ugly for tonight’s
game.


Richie Ashburn hit the same fan twice with foul balls in the same at bat on
August 17, 1957
.


Eastwood Clint - The Good the Bad and the Ugly          Eastwood Clint - The Good the Bad and the Ugly           Eastwood Clint - The Good the Bad and the Ugly       Eastwood Clint - The Good the Bad and the Ugly           Eastwood Clint - The Good the Bad and the Ugly



Here is tonight’s Good,the Bad and the Ugly following the Rays 7-1
shellacking by the Seattle Mariners.

                                         The
Good

Actually, this is going to be another two-fold “good”
tonight. I want to give kudos to the best offensive,and defensive people
tonight. O
ffense was not
at a  premium tonight as the Rays’ only collected  8 hits.  Tonight’s  two
offensive stars were  third baseman Willy Aybar,and  shortstop Jason
Bartlett. Aybar went 3-4 tonight with two doubles to improve
his average to .292 for the year.  He also made some great diving grabs for
outs and started a pretty 5-4-3 double play for the team. This was also Aybar’s
first three hit game since Sept 26,2006 when he was with the Atlanta
Braves. Bartlett also gets game kudos for going 2 for 2 and
raising his average to a modest .222. The left side of the infield produced 5 of
the Rays 8 hits.



Getting an honorary mention is newly arrived
Right fielder Justin Ruggiano, who was brought up from Durham today when  DH
Cliff Floyd went on the disabled list. Justin got a nice double over the head of
Ichiro in his first at bat of the night. Getting a ball out of Ichiro’s range is
a feat all it’s own.


                                         The Bad

 

The bad was the Rays  hitters combining for
two errors on wild plays. The first was a fly ball misplayed by Ruggiano in
Right field that flew several feet over his head and produced runs for the
Mariners. J P Howell was on the mound and had a ball hit
back to him. He collected the ball and threw to Pena.


Only problem was Howell threw a 55 foot throw
53 feet and the ball had to be scooped out of the dirt by Pena, who could not
finish the play for the out. Luckily, the ball did not get by Carlos and roll
into the Bullpen area for extra bases.

                                      
The Ugly

                       Cliff Floyd doubles in the Rays' 6-2 win over the Orioles last week in Baltimore.



The ugly part is knowing growing for the
second day in a row.  The injuries to starting roster players is beginning to
take a toll on both the teams record and the mindset of the
team.


The Rays, who did not lose a series before
coming home to Tropicana field are now in danger of being swept by the Seattle
club. The team has lost another starting pitcher in Matt Garza, and Cliff Floyd
will be having knee surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus that will sideline
him for 4-6 weeks.  Floyd will have surgery on Friday. This new injury is a
fresh wound and an MRI conducted during Spring Training came up clean a few
weeks ago for him. 


With staff ace Scott Kazmir still a few days
or weeks away from rejoining the team, and Dioner Navarro still recovering from
a freak accident, the injury bug is hitting the team hard early this
season.Before Batting Pratice on Weds., Rays manager
Joe Maddon took the squad into the outfiled and preached the essence of positive
thinking and renewing the vow of upward mobility in the standing and in his
troops morale.


“I felt it was important,” Maddon said. “We’ve got so many major items going
on at the same time. A tough loss Tuesday night, and then you find out you lose
two of your better players in one fell swoop. Plus, Kaz is still not here yet,
and Navi’s down, too. They’re starting to pile up a bit. So, I just thought it
would be wise to bring everybody together and have everybody understand that
this is somebody’s opportunity now to shine.” **


If there ever was a skipper who could right
the Rays ship, it is the always positive Maddon.

“We’ve got some key people out of the lineup, so everybody’s trying to do
more, that kind of a thing,” Maddon said. “Just go back to what we had been
doing, working good at-bats, using the whole field, that kind of stuff. We’re a
whole-field team, more of a line drive team. We have some power, but we just
have to get back in the middle of the field on a more consistent basis.” **


Another “ugly” that Maddon does not want to
bring up is the fact the first four hitters in his order are battling for hits
so far this season. Lead-off hitter Akinora Iwamura is hitting .182,
and went 0-3 Weds. night.


Carl Crawford



Left fielder Carl Crawford is struggling at
the plate hitting .167 and had a single in the game. 2007 Silver Slugger winner
Carlos Pena is handcuffed with a .200 average, but leads the team in home runs
and RBI at this moment. Pena also had two of the Rays 4 strikeouts during the
game and has a team leading 12 for the season. Center fielder B J Upton is mired with a .222
average. a bright spot for Upton is he is leading the team in walks with 7, 
which shows he is seeing the ball well, so maybe he is just in a  batters’ funk
right now.


 

B.J. Upton

 


Former Rays’ players’ of the night is Boston Red Sox starting Shortstop Julio
Lugo, who went 2-3 tonight to bring his average up to .321 for the season. You
might remember that Lugo got in a batting funk in the beginning of 2007, and it
took him most of the season to right his ship. It is great to see that he is
hitting the ball well and doing it on the diamond for the Red Sox.

Another guy who is just hitting the cover off the ball is former Ray, current
Twin Brendan Harris. He went 3-4, with 3 runs scored in the Twins 12-5 win over
the Chicago White Sox. Harris is hitting at a .348 clip so far this season.


Also want to send a few cheers to former Rays Jorge Cantu who hit his first
HR tonight for the Florida Marlins.



Tomorrow is an afternoon affair, and I might have to mail that games recap in
during the evening hours. I will get with all you fine readers and let you know
how Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson does tomorrow.

 

** Quotes from Interviews were obtained by Marc Topkin of the St.
Petersburg
Times.                                             

 

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