May 2008

Floyd ends Drama against the Sox with a Bang

Rays 2, White Sox 1

 

I have to admit, it was great chatting with Toby Hall before the game. He was telling me how wild the media in Chicago was treating this series, and he wished he was here to enjoy it like a Ray.

Well Toby, alot of us fans wish you were here too.

By the way, Toby will be catching tonight’s game against the Rays and is batting .375 for the season.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

In 1951, Ned Garver won 20 games for the St. Louis Browns. The rest of the pitching staff won only 32 games collectively. Garver became the first pitcher to win 20 games on a 100-loss team.

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                                                      The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Poster

                             
                                 The Good,
The Bad,and The Ugly

 

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                                                  The Good

These Rays’ are beginnig to understand the drama game. They battled,sweated and toiled until the bottom of the 9th inning. If the Rays had extended their 8th inning, the team had a pinch hitter on deck for Cliff Floyd.

If that had happened, the drama of Floyd’s 4th homer would never had happened. We might still be at the park waiting for the end of the game. Cliff took a low breaking pitch to deep right centerfield for the deciding run against the White Sox.  The Rays are 10-5 when Floyd is in the lineup this season. Floyd also now has 226 homers lifetime, 11 of those in the American League.

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

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*** Rays starter, James Shields (5-3) pitched 6 innings of 7-hit, 1 run ball and was consistant most of the night in the strike zone. Sheilds used his changeup to keep the White Sox at bay most of the night. The only run was scored on a homer by Alexi Ramirez by Sheilds.

Shields leads the majors with two shutouts, and is second in in complete games (2). He leads the Rays in strikeouts with 58 “K’s”.

                      

**  B J Upton again came through in the clutch and scored Akimora Iwamura for the first run of the game in the 3rd inning. Upton hit a soft liner to left that easily scored Iwamura. B J  now has 33 RBIs for the season. B J also collected another outfield assist on a broken play to tag A J Pierzynski at second.

                            

* Akinora Iwamura has been the model of consistant hitting and fielding for the Rays the entire season.  Aki collected two hits last night. He has now had 12 multi-hit games in the last 19 games. His 41 hits are tops in the American League, only trailing Lance Berkman of the Astros for the MLB lead. 

                                               The Bad

I have said it before, and I will say it again………… it is great to not have a huge bag of “bad” items to bring up after a game.  I am actually seeing this contest as one of the best played games of the series for the Rays. They were consistant in the field, on the mound, and in their competitive nature.

The only “Bad” I will bring up is the fact that Carlos Pena is now leading the MLB with  67 strikeouts.  Carlos is swinging away a bit, but when he has contact, it is for distance and is struck with power.

                                              The Ugly

Now the big “Ugly” of the night is a thing Toby Hall and I discussed when he came over during BP tonight.

Here we are, the team in the American League with the BEST record in the league and we only fill the Trop to 35.5 percent ( 14,679) of their capacity.  Of course, Saturday night’s game is not a sellout at this moment, but the only seat availiable right now are single seats and obstructed views seats.

It is expected that by noon Sat., the game should be a sellout, but the game will still not be on TV due to the MLB Saturday blackout rule. I will be down on the field bopping to Trace Atkins and recording a few songs for you guys who will miss this game.

You will be missing Scott Kazmir going up against the White Sox and should be a great game.  In his last 4 starts, Kazmir is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 27 strikeouts. The last time Scott faced the White Sox, he also was opposite Javier Vasquez and lost in a  5-1 contest. This will only be Kazmir’s 4th career start aginat the team.

 

 

Chicago Socks Rays for a Loss

 

 

White Sox 5, Rays 1

 

As I was leaving the ballpark, a Rays staffer let me know about the team’s roster decision

after the game. Rays super sub infielder Ben Zorbrist was optioned to Triple-A Durham,

and the Rays called up Reliever/Closer Grant Balfour for tomnorrow night’s game.

This is kind of curious, because Balfour has no more options, and if he  is designated

 again for assignment, we might lose him for good this time. Balfour will be bringing his

Triple -A stats with him. He was 1-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 15 games for the Bulls.

Balfour also saved 8 games and has 38 strikeouts in 23.2 innings this year

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

During the excavation for the building of Orioles Park at Camden Yards,

the remains of a saloon were discovered.

It turns out that Babe Ruth’s father had owned the place.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Poster

                                       The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

                            

                                              The Good

Carl Crawford  hit a single to right that scored Wily Aybar in the 3rd of the game

for the Rays. It was the lone Tampa Bay scoring play of the night.

Aybar had doubled to get into position for the run. Carl now has 30 RBI’s for the

year, and is hitting .274 for the Rays.

 

                

*** Rays starter Edwin Jackson (3-4) took the loss tonight, but it was for lack of

pitching effort. Jackson threw 101 pitches over 6 innings. The Sox got 4-runs off

10 hits and Jackson struck out 4 batters.

The reason he is listed as a “good guy” is that his pitching loss is for lack of team

production, not for lack of pitching. Jacskon did miss the catchers’ mitt a bit tonight

He hung a few sliders and a odd looking curve, but he was consistant in his pitches

 and just made a mistake to Joe Crede, which resulted in a homer for the Sox.

 

** Wily Aybar was inserted in the lineup tonight at DH. Aybar was activated off the DL yesterday after the injury to Troy Percival. Aybar produced a great double in the third

 and scored the only run for the rays tonight. Aybar is hitting  .286 for the season.

 

* Jason Bartlett was racing around the bases tonight like a man possessed.

He did his part by getting into scoring position three times tonight and was stranded

each time. In the 5th inning, Bartlett had an infield single and proceeded to steal

second and third before B J Upton struck out to end the inning.

In the 7th inning, Bartlett got a double on a throwing error by White Sox third baseman

Joe Crede, and again stole third. He was stranded there by an Iwamura strikeout and Crawford;s ground out to the shortstop.

 

          

                                                 The Bad       

 The Rays’ Carl Crawford had a bit of a time tonight in leftfield.

The White Sox were hitting the ball so hard it took him out of position a few times

 and the ball fell to the turf. Carl made a few lunges at dying balls that he could

not bring into his glove.

The Rays offense stranded  9 on base tonight, 6 with two uts in the inning.

Among those were 4 men stranded on third that could have produced at least a tie

in the ballgame if the team executed in the game.

That word, “executed” is a powerful word in this years’ club.

Execution is going to be paramount the entire season. And the only reason we

lost this game tonight was on execution.

Former Tampa Bay Bucs coach John McKay was once asked,

“What do you think of your team’s execution?” McKay without missing a beat

 came back with, “I am all for it.”   

Execution wins tight ballgames.  

                                               

                                           The Ugly

Sometimes a team has a opposing pitcher that just seems to have an edge on the

 club. He seems to get the outs when he needs them, or gets out of  jams without

 alot of effort.

John Danks of the Chicago White Sox seems to be  that thorn in the Rays side.

 This is the second time this season both Jackson and Danks have squared off,

and Danks has been the victor both times this season.

Tonight Danks got 8 strikeout in 6 innings against the Rays.

The only two Rays to have any success so far against Danks is B J Upton and

 Dioner Navarro, both going 2-6 against him.

Danks is 2-0 at the Trop with an ERA of 3.0 against the Rays.

 

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I was checking out Grant Balfour’s Durham Bulls’ stats, when I spyed a few

ex-Rays that are pitching in the International League.

Here are the guys I found still going to the mound for other teams

in the International League:

Casey Fossum        Toledo Mudhens           3-0                   1.96 ERA

Esteban Yan           Norfolk Tides               1-2                   5.32 ERA

Jon Switzer           Pawtucket Red Sox       2-0                   5.00 ERA

Rob Bell               Charlotte Knights         1-5                    7.68 ERA

Damian Moss       Richmond Braves          1-4                   4.72 ERA

Ken Mercker        Louisville Bats              0-1                    5.40 ERA

Rays win series vs. Ranger minus Percival

Rays 5, Rangers 3

I was told the other day that some national celebrity radio hosts are beginning to jump on the Rays’ bandwagon. I will glad extend a hand to all of them but one. Jim Rhome can bit my ***. I met the guy back in 1984 at the NFL Combine. I was not impressed then, and I am not impressed now with his banter or opinions.

I will not take sage advice from a guy who is the ulitimate sports opinion, after playing college tennis for awhile. I know most sports writers never played the game to a certain extent, but I do not respect or want his opinion to be associated with a great team like ours.

Jim, Go and approve of your Cali teams, and of your UCLA/USC local yokels. We are better in Tampa Bay without your endorsement or advice. We played 10 years before you thought we were worth more than a footnote to defeat and doom. We will be on the top, and by the way, that’s not warm rain, I just had to go dude!

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

After being sold to the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth outhomered the entire Boston Red Sox tean for 10 of the next 12 seasons.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

                                The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

                                   

                                               The Good

Rays starter Matt Garza (4-1) probably had his best stuff today for his game against the Texas Rangers. Garza pitched 8 innings of 8-hit, 4-run ball today in front of a sparse Tampa Bay crowd. Matt added 10 strikeouts today, which made the pizza-lovers’ in the crowd very excited.

In May, Garza is 3-1, with a 3.59 ERA in 5 starts. Matt was 1 strikeout short of his personal record of 11, set at Cleveland on 7/29/2007.

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

***  Rays shortstop Ben Zorbirst and  back-up catcher Shawn Riggans saw duty today in this afternoon game. they went a combined 2-6 and scored 2 runs for the Rays. This season, both have had limited time on the field for the Rays, but both have performed fantastic wehen called upon by the team.

                             

Riggans made  a great slide in the bottom of the 5th to score on Rangers catcher Saltalamacchia. Zorbrist was also a force in that innning, scoring on a Intentional Walk to Carlos Pena with the bases loaded.

 

                                

** Akinora Iwamura went 2-5 today, with and RBI and 2 runs scored for the team. Aki is still the only AL second baseman to not make an error, and only trails the Rangers Ian Kinsler for the lead in double plays.

Iwamura also has not grounded into a double play in 210 at-bats this season. Lat year, he was the hardest player in the AL to get to hit into a double play.

     

*  B J Upton is quietly becoming one of the best centerfielder in the MLB. He is consistantly up in average (.306), outfield assists (4, tied for 3rd in AL), and steals (13, ranked 5th in AL).

Today he quietly helped the Rays to their series victory over the Rangers by going 1-2, with a run and a RBI. Also he walked twice today to put himself into position for the Rays. B J  now leads the team with 32 RBI’s.

                                

                                              The Bad

Troy Percival has been a constant performer for the Rays in the back end of the game for the entire season. Last week in Oakland, while closing a game, Percival felt a twing in his left hamstring but finished the game.

In today’s contest, Troy pitched to the first two Rangers before finally feeling the hamstring tighten again and left with two outs in the top of the 9th inning. Percival will be sent for an MRI and the rsults will be discussed with the training staff tomorrow. 

                                       

In the meantime, Dan Wheeler and Al Reyes will pick up the slack in Troy’s absence for the Rays. Percival might miss a few days to rehab the injury, or the Rays could put him on the DL and shut him down for a few weeks.

                               

                                             The Ugly

I can’t rant and rave enough about this next subject. I know it was an oafternoon affair, and people do have to work. I admit, I could not be there only because my store that day was 65 miles away and I got done at 1 P.M.

But my seat is pre-paid for the season, so even if I am not there, it counts as a ticket sold. With that in mind, I hope the “Golden Rays” and the other 10,927 fans enjoyed the Rays victory.

I hate that we are tied for the best record in the AL, actually the majors, and we still gave attendance issues. I have heard all the excuses on the radio after the game. Mileage, gas costs, distance and time of the game are the latest things to be brought up.

 This is not an issue if you want to be here. I am not made of money, but I get to almost 75-plus games a year. I made a committment by buying my tickets to be here as much as I can.

I do not condone or want people to go poor or hungry just to support the team. But, if you get here once a week, or take in a weekend series, you are showing more support than most people in the Tampa Bay area.

If you heart is in the team, you will get here when you can be here. I am not asking people again to starve,steal or beg to get here. Come when you can and the attendance and the support will grow slowly and surely.

I rant and rave becuase I enjoy my time here every day/night. I could stay home and watch on the TV or Internet, but nothing compares to the spirit and the sounds of being here.

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If the playoffs started today, we would be paired up with the Chicago White Sox for our first series. Let’s make this weekend,plus one series a best of 4 and see what each of our teams are made of here.

Both teams have the best records in their divisions, and one will have a few losses after this weekend. Hopefully the Southside Chi-town boys are on that end of the stick.

So, come on out to the Trop. and lest’s see if we can make it feel like a playoff game with noise, crowds, and an awesome after game concert Sat. night.

Percival Hurt, But Rays Roll to Victory

 

Rays 5, Rangers 3

I was told the other day that some national celebrity radio hosts are beginning to jump on the Rays’ bandwagon. I will glad extend a hand to all of them but one. Jim Rhome can bit my ***. I met the guy back in 1984 at the NFL Combine. I was not impressed then, and I am not impressed now with his banter or opinions.

I will not take sage advice from a guy who is the ulitimate sports opinion, after playing college tennis for awhile. I know most sports writers never played the game to a certain extent, but I do not respect or want his opinion to be associated with a great team like ours.

Jim, Go and approve of your Cali teams, and of your UCLA/USC local yokels. We are better in Tampa Bay without your endorsement or advice. We played 10 years before you thought we were worth more than a footnote to defeat and doom. We will be on the top, and by the way, that’s not warm rain, I just had to go dude!

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

After being sold to the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth outhomered the entire Boston Red Sox tean for 10 of the next 12 seasons.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

                                The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

                                   

 

 

                                               The Good

Rays starter Matt Garza (4-1) probably had his best stuff today for his game against the Texas Rangers. Garza pitched 8 innings of 8-hit, 4-run ball today in front of a sparse Tampa Bay crowd. Matt added 10 strikeouts today, which made the pizza-lovers’ in the crowd very excited.

In May, Garza is 3-1, with a 3.59 ERA in 5 starts. Matt was 1 strikeout short of his personal record of 11, set at Cleveland on 7/29/2007.

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

***  Rays shortstop Ben Zobirst and  back-up catcher Shawn Riggans saw duty today in this afternoon game. they went a combined 2-6 and scored 2 runs for the Rays. This season, both have had limited time on the field for the Rays, but both have performed fantastic wehen called upon by the team.

                             

Riggans made  a great slide in the bottom of the 5th to score on Rangers catcher Saltalamacchia. Zorbrist was also a force in that innning, scoring on a Intentional Walk to Carlos Pena with the bases loaded.

 

                                             

 

** Akinora Iwamura went 2-5 today, with and RBI and 2 runs scored for the team. Aki is still the only AL second baseman to not make an error, and only trails the Rangers Ian Kinsler for the lead in double plays.

Iwamura also has not grounded into a double play in 210 at-bats this season. Last year, he was the hardest player in the AL to get to hit into a double play.

     

          

 

*  B J Upton is quietly becoming one of the best centerfielder in the MLB. He is consistantly up in average (.306), outfield assists (4, tied for 3rd in AL), and steals (13, ranked 5th in AL).

Today he quietly helped the Rays to their series victory over the Rangers by going 1-2, with a run and a RBI. Also he walked twice today to put himself into position for the Rays. B J  now leads the team with 32 RBI’s.

                                

                

 

                                              The Bad

Troy Percival has been a constant performer for the Rays in the back end of the game for the entire season. Last week in Oakland, while closing a game, Percival felt a twing in his left hamstring but finished the game.

In today’s contest, Troy pitched to the first two Rangers before finally feeling the hamstring tighten again and left with two outs in the top of the 9th inning. Percival will be sent for an MRI and the rsults will be discussed with the training staff tomorrow. 

                                       

In the meantime, Dan Wheeler and Al Reyes will pick up the slack in Troy’s absence for the Rays. Percival might miss a few days to rehab the injury, or the Rays could put him on the DL and shut him down for a few weeks.

                               

                                             The Ugly

I can’t rant and rave enough about this next subject. I know it was an oafternoon affair, and people do have to work. I admit, I could not be there only because my store that day was 65 miles away and I got done at 1 P.M.

But my seat is pre-paid for the season, so even if I am not there, it counts as a ticket sold. With that in mind, I hope the “Golden Rays” and the other 10,927 fans enjoyed the Rays victory.

I hate that we are tied for the best record in the AL, actually the majors, and we still gave attendance issues. I have heard all the excuses on the radio after the game. Mileage, gas costs, distance and time of the game are the latest things to be brought up.

 This is not an issue if you want to be here. I am not made of money, but I get to almost 75-plus games a year. I made a committment by buying my tickets to be here as much as I can.

I do not condone or want people to go poor or hungry just to support the team. But, if you get here once a week, or take in a weekend series, you are showing more support than most people in the Tampa Bay area.

If you heart is in the team, you will get here when you can be here. I am not asking people again to starve,steal or beg to get here. Come when you can and the attendance and the support will grow slowly and surely.

I rant and rave becuase I enjoy my time here every day/night. I could stay home and watch on the TV or Internet, but nothing compares to the spirit and the sounds of being here.

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

If the playoffs started today, we would be paired up with the Chicago White Sox for our first series. Let’s make this weekend,plus one series a best of 4 and see what each of our teams are made of here.

Both teams have the best records in their divisions, and one will have a few losses after this weekend. Hopefully the Southside Chi-town boys are on that end of the stick.

So, come on out to the Trop. and lest’s see if we can make it feel like a playoff game with noise, crowds, and an awesome after game concert Sat. night.

 

Rangers Beat Rays by a Touchdown

Rangers 12, Rays 6

 

I know the Rangers did not score a TD, please do not write me and tell me I mixed sports metaphors. I know what I did, it was to attract you to the blog only. I played football, I know the difference Yankee dude.

I want to tell you, watching the Rangers take BP today was a wild experience. I saw Josh Hamilton hit a ball so high and far it went BEHIND the towering video screen in rightfield. 

I have seen the NY Met’s old catcher, Mike Piazza put two straight shots into the Beach area. I have seen Barry Bonds hit the back wall, and Jorge Posada lodge a ball in the building’s seam, but that shot mesmerized me for a brief moment.  Damn what we would be with him in our lineup………sends chills down my spine.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Of Babe Ruth’s 714 homers, 10 were inside-the-park shots. 16 were hit in extra innings, and 1 was as a pinch hitter.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

                                        The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

           

           

                                                 The Good

Cliff Floyd has been hitting the ball better in the last few at-bats. Tonight he hit a clutch 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to begin the scoring for the Rays.

Cliff went 2-2 tonight with 2 RBI’s, and scored 3 runs. Floyd also had 2 walks tonight for the team. Floyd is currently hitting .281 for the Rays. Floyd has a .386 lifetime average at the Trop., the 4th best average lifetime at the stadium (min 75 at bats).

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

*** Dioner Navarro continues to carry a hot bat, going 2-4 tonight and upping his average to .374 for the year. Dioner is the best hitting switch hitter in the MLB this season. Dioner has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, with 8 multi-hit games.

** Evan Longoria went 1-3 tonight and upped his average to .243 for the year. Evan leads the club with 7 homers since his arrival, and is tied with Carl Crawford with 29 RBI’s. Longoria also is ranked 2nd behind Chicago White Sox’s Joe Crede for the AL best thrid baseman. He currently has a slugging percentage of .466 for the Rays.

* Eric Hinske went diving for a dying ball tonight in rightfield and just missed it by inches. This determination and drive is why he is my top star tonight. Eric also hit a 2-run homer to right in the 4th inning to close the gap to 7-4 at the moment. 

Hinske has now hit 10 homers on the year. Thi is the earliest in his career that he has hit that plateau. He currently leads the club with 20 extra base hits, and is 6th in the AL with a .529 Slugging Percentage.

              

          

 

                                             The Bad

Andy Sonnanstine has had two bad outings in a row now. His last start in Oakland was a 9-1 Rays loss on the last game of the road trip. Tonight, Andy lasted 5 innings, gave up 10 hits and 7 runs before shutting down the Rangers for 3 innings.

Rays manager Joe Maddon admitted in his post game interview that the righty was having a control situation and was not “hitting the glove” like he did in his past victories. Sonnanstine did get 7 strikeouts on the night. 

I know some fans are ready to throw Andy under the bus and take this loss in the wrong ways. This was one of those games that can define a team. You know you can not win every night, but the team did not give up and it played aggressive baseball up until the last out in the 9th inning. that is a character ball club. And one you can be proud of for it efforts.

                                      

Just remember, Andy Sonnanstine was pitching in Double-A only two years ago. And this season, he matched a record set by Rolando Arroyo and Scott Kazmir of reaching 6 victories by May 16th.  The guy has the talent, sometime you just have a bad game…..period.

     

                                           The Ugly

Tonight, Josh Hamilton’s Grand Slam was the most ugly thing I have seen this season at the Trop. I am not blaming J P Howell for the pitch.

It was right where the glove was placed, Hamilton did a great job turning on the pitch and sending it into the lower half of the Bigscreen Scoreboard in rightfield.

You heard me, he put it into the scoreboard.  It was a major blast for his team, and a ultimate signal to the Rays that they still had work to do that night.

                              

But what was even more ugly was the Rangers’ starter Vicent Padilla’s personal interpretation of the new “12 second rule.”

MLB insituted a 12 second rule for the pitchers to speed up the game. I asked a memeber of the Rays staff what constitutes a beginning of this timed period. He stated that it was, “when the pitcher touches the rubber with his foot.”

Not when you are in the set position to throw, but when you first rest your foot on the rubber. Padilla was using every second, and borrowing a half dozen on most of his pitches tonight.

Tim Welke, the homeplate umpire did not seem to warn or even go out and discuss this with the pitcher. He let the game drag on and on by the pitcher’s disregard for the rule, and the Rays players also used that to their advantage. If Padilla used up an abnormal bit of time, the Rays used their discretion and moved out of the batter’s box. Hence making the pitcher again setup for the pitch and  beginnig the process all over again. 

The Rays’ tried to use this as a distraction on Padilla’s rhythm and get him in an uncomfortable state. This only seemed to upset the crowd and the batters more than Padilla.

I hope there is a better example of this ruling somewhere online. I am going to look for it and see if I can make any sense of it for everyone.

 

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Rays’ Players Rememberances of Geremi Gonzalez

 

                        

 A moment of silence was observed in memory of former Rays pitcher Geremi Gonzalez prior to Tuesday night’s Rays-Rangers game at Tropicana Field.

Rays players and staff paid tribute to Gonzalez, who died on Sunday at the age of 33 after being struck by lightning.

Crawford smiled when asked to describe Gonzalez.

“Yeah, he was fun,” Crawford said. “Loud, always excited, he just had a lot of energy. He was a character, man.” 

 

Rocco Baldelli called Gonzalez a “Fun-loving guy, and a lot of people here are going to miss him.”

Baldelli remembered how entertaining Gonzalez could be, particularly on a trip back from Japan after the Rays opened their season in Japan in 2004.

“We played cards on the way back from Japan the entire flight,” Baldelli said. “I mean this guy kept me awake for 18 hours or whatever. This guy would do some off-the-wall stuff that kept everybody loose all the time. He’s a guy who makes an impression. When you meet him, you remembered meeting Geremi Gonzalez.”

 

 

Kazmir Strikes a Blow to the Rangers

Rays 7, Rangers 3

 

 

I got to the ballpark a little early today and was sitting at a small bench near the Team store when I had a upsetting story hit my screen.

Former Rays pitcher, Geremi Gonzalez had died from a lightning strike at the beach in his native Venezuela on Sunday. Gonzalez had only pitched for the Rays from 2003-2004, but had struck out 121 batters in that span and had a Rays record of 6-16 while appearing in 36 games. Mostly a starter for the team, he was in the bullpen  in late 2004.

I want to send along my prayers to his family and friends in MLB. Geremi was a bit of a prankster on the team, but was well liked and respected by fans and players alike in the league.  He will be truly missed by all.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Of the 84 teams leading their divisions at Memorial Day, 46 went on to capture their division pennants at the end of the season. (The Rays are leading their division on this date).

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                        The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly  

 

 

                    

 

                                                  The Good

There are a lot of great stories to be told tonight, but the best is the stellar pitching performance put in by number 19, Scott Kazmir( 4-1). Since he came off the DL, Scott has been a force to be reckoned with in the league.  Tonight he pitched goose eggs until the top of the 5th inning.

How good was Kazmir tonight, he retired his first 7 of 9 batters with strikeouts, and finished with 10 strikeouts for the night. Scott pitched  7 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball, and lowered his ERA to 1.50.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

***  Rays catcher Dioner Navarro would be leading the AL in average if he had more at bats this season. Navarro is currently hitting .369. The current AL leader is Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer with a .338. Because his time on the DL cost him valuable at bats, Dioner might be the best hitter in the league by numbers, but not in the offical tallys.

Dioner hit a RBI double to deep center tonight to score Evan Longoria in the bottom of the 6th inning. Navarro legged it out to third on a throwing error.

                       

** Carlos Pena is continuing to show that he is about to breakout again this season. In the bottom of the 3rd inning Carlos hit a long and high shot that lodged itself in the “B” ring over the turf. Such a shoit is proof that Pena is seeing the ball well and is warming up this year. He is currently hitting .238 after going 3-4 tonight and had another walk.

                   

*  As with the trend the last few nights, this would be the top guy, if the pitcher of record had not been amazing.

Eric Hinske knows that a decision is lurking on who might be going to make room for infielder Wily Aybar who is currently on the DL. Aybar is scheduled to come off the DL any day now, and a decison must be made on a roster cut.  Hinske might have made Rays’ manager Joe Maddon’s mind a bit harder tonight with a 3-run shoit that sealed the vicotry for the Rays.

The homer was Hinske’s 9th of the season, and in limited play, he now has 25 RBI’s for the season. Hinske also went into the wall in the rightfield foulpole area hard tonight going after a foul ball.

                         

                                              The Bad

I am beginning to sound like a broken record on this, but I know it will spring back and bite this team soon. We left 29 guys on base tonight. Before the Rays broke this game open in the 5th inning, it was still either teams ballgame. Rangers’ starter Sidney Ponson was not great, but he kept the score close until Eric Hinske hit his 3-run shot to right.

This team plays very aggressive baseball, which I do not have a single problem with, but this LOB situation will come back to haunt us on a night when we are in a pitcher’s duel.

8 of those men were left in scoring position, a cardinal baseball sin.

                           

                                               The Ugly

I am a huge pro-Josh Hamilton fan. I am not going to hide it, and I am not going to sit there and hear boos’ for a guy who did nothing wrong in this franchise’s history.

He did not mouth off badly about the Rays, like a certain Baltimore guy. He did not leave alot of baggage at the clubhouse and front office doors like a guy in Washington. (By the way, the guy in Wash. is doing great iand is a model player right now).

Josh was a guy who made a mistake off the field. He did  cost himnself a chance to be in this outfield years ago, but I respect the journey it took to get him back on the field. I also commend and think he is a prime example that even at the bottom of the well, you can see the light.

I read in a recent article that his Grandmother was the reckoning force to get him to the right path. Good for you Granny!  At the time his grandmother saw him, Josh was a reported 185 pounds.

Now, if you look at him, you will know that he would have been mostly skin and bones at that weight. To get back to a normal life is amazing, to get back on the field and start for a team is inspiring and, to me, a godsend to sports fans everywhere.  We might be seeing another true hero in the sports coming up later, better than never.

Do not “boo” this guy. He should be the guy you point to and tell your kids to remember his name. I was there the day he stepped back onto the Rays fields at the Minor League complex. I saw him in the locker room talking to Tim M., and I saw the look in his eyes that told me he was there for real this time.

I stood up and applauded when he first came to bat, and I was not the only one in the stadium to do that. I will do it again tommorrow, becuase I think he needs to see that we have not forgotten him, or want to forget what he could have been for the Rays.

Rays Sweep Their Way to 30th Win

 

Rays 5, Orioles 4

 

I have to say, after last night’s Commodore s’ concert, and the excitement of today’s “walk-off” win, I have to take the rest of the day off to just get ready for the next 7 days of Rays baseball.

It is a great time to be a true Rays fan.  A .600 winning percentage, and a offense that gets better every day.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Rays are currently tied for the best record in the MLB. They are tied with Arizona at 30-20, or a .600% winning percentage.  GO RAYS!!!!

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                                         The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

               

 

                                            The Good

Carlos Pena has now reached base in 8 straight at-bats. He walked three times today and hit his 10th homer in the bottom of the 3rd inning.  Carlos went  1-2 today, with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

            

In reality, Carlos came to play today and the ball was as big as basketballs to him. His homer to left center was not in doubt a few seconds after he hit it. For the season, Carlos is now in a three way tie for third in homers, and is sitting in 38th in RBI’s with teammate Carl Crawford.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

*** Rays Catcher Dioner Navarro went 2-4 today and lifted his average to .355 for the season. Dioner is the leader in switch hitters in the majors right now.  Dioner was also instrumential in Gabe Gross’s outfield assist today taking the relay ans throwing to second to get the Orioles Ramon Hernandez at second base.

 

** Rays outfielder B J Upton is again alive with his bat and is currently hitting .303 for the season. B J is making outstanding plays in the field, and running the bases better for the team. He had his 3rd  career 4-hit game last night. B J reached base all 5 times he batted last night, and his .303 average is ranked 9th in the AL.

                                        

          

 

 

*  Usually, when you hit a game winning double in walk-off fashion, I would list you as the top player of the day. But, Evan Longoria is already in a class by himself this year. He went 2-5 today to up his average to .246.

 

In the bottom of the 9th, after Carlos Pena walked, Evan hit a sscreamer into the right centerfield gap and stopped at second. Not that he was out of gas, or tired in the least. It had just hit him that in less than 40 games, he is being put in the same breath as veterans like Carl Crawford, B J Upton, and Carlos Pena. High praise for the guy leading all Roiokies in homers and RBI’s.

                       

But then again, we were told he was special in the Spring.

                                      

 

                                                           The Bad

 

I have been notcing a trend again in Aki Iwamura’s batting swings and hits. He is again hitting the ball more airborne and is taking away that grounder or line drive that was his signature during his hitting streak.

It might just be an adjustment, or a action that is not visible to Aki, but we see it out in the stands.

Another bad I have to address is the fact that we again left 11 guys standing on the bases in scoring position.  We have been lucky to have won most of those games, but we got lucky that Daniel Caberra was not on his control and strikeout binge today.

 

                                            The Ugly

 

Aki was the only Ray not to get at least a hit today. His average is sitting at .262, down the beginning of the week. As I mentioned before, Aki is leaning back a bit and lofting the ball instead of driving the ball through the hitting zone.

I also saw something amazing considering Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez could not seem to get anyone out stealing the last two nights.

He threw a bullet to nail Carl Crawford for his 4th caught stealing attempt today. The throws in earlier situations were high and almost in centerfield. This throw was on the money and Carl was dead to rights out by a good margin.

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I do not do a former Rays player of the night, but I want to throw congrats to Brewers’ starter Seth McClung (2-1) who pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 hits and 2 runs on the night.

All Rays fans remember that McClung ended his Rays career as our closer after being a starter most of his career. In Milwaulkee, he got another chance to start, and is making the most of it.

Rays Post Groovy Win on 70’s Night

Rays 11, Orioles

 

 

If you were at the Trop last night, you saw fireworks on and off the field. The Rays put up an offensive explosion, while the Commodores went wild and sassy on stage after the game.

Season Ticket holders got to go down on the field for the concert, while the other Rays fans got to sit in their seats and enjoy the festivities.  I had some woman doing the “bump” on me while I was recording “Brickhouse.”  I would have danced with her, but I was afraid the camera would record the Trop roof instead of the song.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

George Steinbrenner of the Yankees, hired Billy Martin five times to manage the club, and he also fired him the same number of times.

 

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                            The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly 

 

                   

 

                                                   The Good

 

Evan Longoria is making alot of fans here with the Rays forget he is a rookie. Last night Evan hit a monster shot over 458 feet, and hit another 3 run homer. He also got a Sac. Fly in the bottom of the 4th inning scoring B J Upton to up his nightly RBI total to 6 .

Evan is currently hitting .241, but went 2-4 last night on his homers. Longoria is starting to show why the Rays have had high expectations and anticipated his arrival in the league. Before tonight’s offensive gem, Evan was tied for 2nd in homers and  RBI’s. I have a feeling Longoria is leading all rookies after this game.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

                         

*** Carl Crawford has been having a dream week, first the S.I. cover, then having an offensive explosion of his own. Crawford went 2-3 last night with 3 runs scored, which puts him in 3rd in the AL. Carl is quietly getting his average back up to the “.300″ plateau. He is currently hitting .282 for the Rays.

 

                  

** Rays starter, Edwin Jackson has been stymied lately in the win column becuase of offensive or bullpen situations. But tonight, Jackson broke his scoreless inning streak, but got a win in a night where the Rays offense had the winning runs for him by the bottom of the 2nd inning.

To show the massive improvement in his pitching, lets look at “Action” Jackson’s record and ERA last year at this time, 0-6,with an 7.78 ERA. To put it all in perspective, here is his numbers this season, 3-3( but could be 5-3 without a few Bullpen implosions),and a 3.47 ERA.

Massive improvement and his control and cofidience shows it on every pitch. Congrats Edwin, you deserve all the accolades and high fives.

 

* My number 1 is “El Presidente”.

                             

             

 

I have been a active and outspoken guy about Carlos Pena, and I am also one of the guys secretly rooting he would come out of his offensive funk. Carlos last night was a homer short of being the first Ray to hit for the cycle. And Carlos did it the hard way. He got his triple off a blast to center that handcuffed Oriole Adam Jones.

 

This is also his 6th multi-hit game of the season. Pena went 3-3, with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI’s last night. Carlos is hitting .224 right now, and has not been above .250 for most of the season. 

 

                                              The Bad

I hate to harp on this after Carlos had a monster night along with the team, but we stranded 15 baserunners last night.

Now, I did not want a completly destroy the O’s last night, but the other teams in the league did post some impressive scores. Detroit put up 19 runs, the Yankees put up 12, and the Mets put up 9 on the Rockies.

Carlos Pena did somethime fantastic last night that might have gone unnoticed by most people. This is one of the first nights he did not have a strikeout. Pena currently leads the ML with 57 punchouts.

 

                                          The Ugly

The Trop had 30,445 in the stands last night. That puts the stadium at 73.3 percent full. With the St. Petersburg City Council decision less than a week away, this was a critical hoimestand and night to show that the Rays have the community support to fill a 34,000 seat stadium.

I am an avid and outspoken born and raised St. Pete native, who firmly and utterly supports an outdoior stadium downtown on the waterfront. The POWW group has been in business for years, but the Rays have stood tall and taken hit after hit from this group. At the recent City Council meeting there were over 600 peoiple signed up to speak on the issue. The fans are beginning to believe in the cause and the team at the same time.

I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other night that said,” Half a Billion Dollars to move a Stadium 16 Blocks.”  Yes, the Trop was buily in a logical place at the time in St. Pete., but now a small window of opportunity and community effort can bring us a picture perfect stadium with the lastest in energy and technology.

Build It………………We Will Come!!!!!!!!!!!!  Again, and Again

Orioles Huff’d, But the Rays Would Not Break Down

Rays 2, Orioles 0

 

I did not write a blog on the Wed. afternoon game against the A’s to see if anyone would notice I did not do it. Only one person made a comment to me in an email, thinking I might have died or gotten lost on I-275 somewhere in Tampa.

I just decided to take a day off from writing, and see if anyone would notice. By the way, thank you every one for reading my blogs from Friday to Tuesday. I was the numero uno Sports blog guy for four days, and I am mighty proud of it.

But, I can’t do it without you guys hitting the page and checking it out, so I applaud you for doing just that for me.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Tomorrow night, former MLB pitcher Gaylord Perry will be throwing out the first pitch. He is currently the only pitcher to win a Cy Young in both leagues.

 

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                                   The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

                            

                                            The Good

Rays starter Matt Garza ( 3-1) has been getting better and better with each outing since coming off the DL.  Garza tossed 7.1 innings of 4-hit ball and  recorded a shutout of the Baltimore Orioles 2-0.

Garza also recorded 4 strikeouts and had good control of his slider and cutter tonight. This is the thrid time Matt has faced the Orioles this season, and he is 4-0 lifetime aginst them. He has pitched to a 3.72 ERA in 5 starts since coming off the DL on April 25th.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys:”:

                                   

*** Carlos Pena has been getting better wood on the ball in the last few games. Pena went 1-2 tonight, with a Sacrifice Fly and a RBI in the bottom of the 8th to add an insurance run for the Rays.

Pena drove in B J Upton on third after B J advanced after a George Sherrill throwing error at first base went into the Rays Bullpen area. It was Carlos’ 24th RBI of the year.

                                              

Carlos also used his great baseball mind to get Aubrey Huff trying to score in the top of the 2nd inning. Huff was tagged out on a great homeplate block by Dioner Navarro.

Carlos also made a superb catch of a foul in the Rays firstbase side seats in front of a retreating Rays fan. Thank you Dorine for letting Carlos get that ball.

** B J Upton was on base twice tonight and got to advance from botched pick-off plays at first. In each incident, B J advanced into scoring position. In the 8th inning, he was on thris when Orioles Luke Scott made a diving catch on the warning track in left center, and trotted home for the final score of the game.

                                  

* “Sports Illustrated” first honored him today with the first cartoon cover in their history, then Carl goes out and shows why he is the face of this Rays offense. Carl drove in Eric Hinske with a single to right for his 29 RBI of the year. 

   Carl is still third in the AL in runs scored with 35 this season. He is also 2nd in the AL with 199 at-bats this year, second only to Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. 

 

             

                     

                                          

 

                                                        The Bad 

 

Usually  when you have a pitchers’ duel, you have to focus on the batters at the plate instead of the offensive numbers. In this instance, I think the “bad” isd the fact that the Rays are starting to get those calls that used to go to our opposition either home or away. In the game tonight, I saw at least three plays that could of/would of, gone against us last year.

The one that will stick firm in my mind is the hit down the first baseline of the bat of former Rays Aubrey Huff. Huff hit a sqeaker down the line that hit over the bag and hit inside the line before spinning off to the foul area. From my seat down by the Bullpen area, it was a fair ball.

                                        

Umpire Ed Hickox took no time to deem it a foul ball. Huff immediately came out of the batters box and ran to first to confront Hickox, but the decision was not reversed. Later in the inning, Orioles manager Dave Trembley was ejected for futher arguing the call after a pitching change.

 

 

                                            The Ugly

 

I really do not have an “ugly” tonight to speak about. For that reason, I will turn my attention to the “talking heads” in Bristol Conn.

I respect you guys as “sports reporters” and ” lovers of the game”, but you got to admit here guys, this team is exciting and willing to leave it all on the field now.

I am not going to say a cowbell, or a fan with a Marge Simpson faux  blue wig is the instigation tools to our success. For years we have been told to wait and see by our upper management. For years we have been told, the future is bright.

We are not to that future yet, we still have arms in the minors that will light up a nights sky. We have batters who will carry this team to another level. All I am asking you all for is one thing………….Can you honestly say that you are not surprised, or delighted that the once downtrodden RAYS have extinguished their dismal past fora a future with promise and excitement.

I know you guys pull for the underdog……………you guys loved the  N Y Giants a few months ago,…………………… remember.

A’s See the Rays of Light in Loss

 

Rays 3, Athletics 2

 

The Rays currently have the 4th best record in the MLB. They trail only Boston (28-19), Arizona (28-16), Chicago Cubs (28-17). The Rayts are also still 7 games over .500, and are one victory away from equalling their new record for games over .500( 8 games over .500).

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The legendary Ty Cobb owns the record for stealing home, he did it 54 times in his career.

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Rays starter Scott Kazmir( 3-1) is getting better and better every time he has started since coming off the DL.  Kazmir is more relaxed and his control is becoming pinpoint, which means trouble for AL batters. Last night, Scott tossed 7 innings of 4-hit, 1 run ball against the Oakland A’s.  The win sealed another series for the Rays this season.

Kazmir is now the All-time Rays victory leader with his 37th win. Kazmir  passed Victor Zambrano, the player he was traded for when the Rays aquired Kazmir in 2004. This was also Scott’s 101st career start, which is amazing considering he is the youngest member of our rotation.

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

                                    

 

***  Rays closer Troy Percival came on and recorded his 13th save of the season. Troy got stronger as the inning progressed. His pitch speed increased, and his location was dead-on tonight. He did have a small wobble on the mound in one occasion, but shook off the trainers and pitched the inning for the save opportunity.

 

** Rays reliever Dan Wheeler currently owns the AL lead in “holds” with 12 this season. Opposing teams are batting .148 against him. Since 2005, he has 65 holds, which ranks him 5th in that time span in the MLB.

                     

                    

 

* Rays catcher Dioner Navarro has not let his average dip below .300 at any point this season. To really put that in perspective, at the All-Star break alst year, Dioner was hitting .177 for the Rays. He is currently leading ALL catchers with a .366 average.

Last night, he connected on a 3-run double that put the Rays on the board for good, and sealed the victory for the Rays. That gives Dioner 16 RBI’s for the year. He has appeared in 22 of 26 games since coming off the DL on April 22nd.

 

                                               The Bad

For once, “The Bad” is actually a repeat plea for the team to help develop a better plan to help those stranded Rays on the basepaths. The Rays left 8 guys on base last night that could have sealed this victory alot earlier for Joe and the boys. Think about it, if that is the worst I can find wrong in this game, that is a great thing.   GO RAYS!!!!

                                

                                              The Ugly

Before this series, the “Ugly” was any time we stepped foot in the McAfee Stadium’s doors. Before this series, the Rays were 11-35 in prior series in this park. And they had only won two series in their  short history here.  The good news is that as of last night, the Rays have now won 3 of the last 4 series in the park and might be overtaking the mystic that is the A’s home field advantage.

Again, the stadium’s lights played a major role in the winner of this contest. In the top of the 8th inning, Dioner Navarro hit a routine fly ball to leftfield. The A’s Emil Brown was positioned to catch the ball before the lights turned the play into a blooper for the ages.

                        

 

The ball sailed between his glove and his left shoulder and skidded to the outfield wall for a Navarro 3-run double. the reason I mention this, it was the winning runs in the ballgame.

 

 

 

Do not forget that the Rays are coming home for a series against their AL division nemesis the Baltimore Orioles. Both teams are playing inspired ball, and the Saturday night game features an after game concert by the Commodores.

So bring your “Brick house” to the game so you can tell her why she is “Three times a lady.”

Sorry, I had to do it!

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