May 2008

Rookie Rockets Rays Past A’s

 

Rays 7, Athletics 6

 

Worst part of a game starting at 9:30 at night, you might not get to the pillow until maybe 1 AM. Worst part of last night’s game, what pillow?.  When you win a game like that, the “zombie” walk that is part of the next day is acceptable behavior in my book. Hopefully my customers will not ask me any questions, for I will be sleeping on my feet today……….snore….

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Until 1954, players were able to leave their gloves on the field while their team batted.

 

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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

 

The Rays rookie, Evan Longoria has had a dream year so far in 2008. He is leading all AL third baseman in fielding percentage (.997), he has been rewarded with a long term contract by the club, and he is hitting the ball like a guy who has been here for a long time.

People forget he was not with the Rays for the first 10 games of the year But since then, you can’t get the kid off the hot corner.

                                 

Longoria went 3-6 last night with 3 RBI’s. Evan also got a stolen base off of Kurt Suzuki and Keith Foulke in the top of the 8th inning.  To put the icing on the cake, Longoria got his 2-run shot of former Ray Chad Gaudin in the top of the 13th inning.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

*** Akinora Iwamura is siliently putting together another hitting streak for the Rays. At the beginning of the year, it looked as though Aki would not be a good lead-off candidate for this Rays squad.

Since then, he has come through in the clutch and shown he can deliver in the top spot.  With 29 hits in May, Aki leads the AL in that category and only trails Houston’s Lance Berkman by 6 for the MLB lead in hits this season in the month of May.

              

** When Jason Hammel was demoted to the bullpen after Scott Kazmir came back, he took it in stride and still worked out strong and hard to keep in the mind of manager Joe Maddon.

Hammel pitched 3 innings last night and helped the Rays protect the lead with 1 hit and three strikeouts in his outing. Hammel was rewarded with his 3rd win of the season for his efforts.

                    

* Eric Hinske leads the Rays with 18 extra base hits this season. His 2-run homer to tight in the 5th inning started the scoring for the Rays tonight.

His 8th homer this year is two more than he had all last year with  the Boston Red Sox.  Hinske also got one of the Rays 5 doubles on the night in the 3rd inning.

                               

                                                      The Bad

When Frank Thomas came to the Oakland A’s after being let go by the Toronto Blue Jays, most people felt he might be entering his last sunset in the MLB.

Do not tell Frank that, as he belted two homers off Rays starter James Shields tonight. For the night, Shields gave up 3 homers, two to Thomas and one to Emil Brown.

Before tonight, Shields had only given up two homers the entire season. His control was not amazing tonight as his cheangeup was missing the corners all night long. Shields did not look comfortable ot there and struggled in his 7.2 innings. He gave up 5 hits and 5 earned runs tonight, while only striking out 3 batters.

                                       

                                                        The Ugly

I must say the biggest “Ugly” in tonight’s game is the tarp covered upper deck area of Oakland’s stadium. It is in that ugly dark green hue that makea a great backdrop, but takes the beauty of the stadium away and just make sit look drab and dull.

                               

Players have said that this stadium is the worst for sun-aided outfield drops and mis-plays. The outfield sun backdrop is a monster in the early evening as the sun that beats down  at an 85 degree angle on you. Shades and your hand covering your eyes to adjust to the sun do not help in this stadium. Most times you just have to hope you have great positioning as the ball makes its ascent to the turf. 

Oakland’s own player Jack Cust seemed to have that same situation last night in the top of the 3rd inning on a double by Eric Hinske.

Cust looked to have the play, but when the ball got within 10 feet of him he froze and could not locate the ball in the setting sun. The ball fell a few feet to the right of where he was standing and trickled to the wall before centerfielder Ryan Sweeney retrived the ball for the A’s.

 

        

Former Rays Player of the Night:

                                                                 

When the Rays traded Brendan Harris to the Twins in the off season, more than one Rays fan cried “foul.” They did not see why you would get rid of a guy who was a working class baseball player, who did his job nightly and did not seek the limelight for himself.

Well, Brendan, you are my ex-Ray of the night because of your 3-5 night against the Texas Rangers.  Harris was listed as the Twins DH for the night, until taking over at short in the extra innings.  Harris currently hitting .262 for the Twins.

 

 

Tonight is a another late start ( 10:05 P.M.) with Scott Kazmir taking the mound for the Rays.  I am not sure if I am going to make this telecast, but we shall see………..if the kids let me catch a catnap, I might actually see a bunch of innings.

Rays Errors Cost Them the Series

Cardinals 5, Rays 4

 

Sunday was a celebration in St. Louis to honor a man who I met as a small child in Spring Training here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stan Musial was a giant to me then as a kid, and is still a giant on any  ballfield.

Sunday was a day to honor Cardinals great number 6, and his legacy with the Cardinals. Stan came out to the stadium, swung his familiar swing to the crowd, and even gave a memorable speech to the throng of fans in the stands.

The team renamed the plaza in front of the stadium “Stan Musial Plaza,” and also established “Stan Musial Drive” as one of the throughfare surrounding the Busch Stadium.  If that was not enough, the Cardinals let Stan do his harmonica rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the television,and it was a remarkable sight to see the old guy smiling and having fun that day.

                         

As you might remember, Stan Musial was the first major leaguer to hit a home run out of Al Lang Field in St. Pete.

He was also one of the small group that threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Rays first game against the Tigers’ on March 31, 1998.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Until 1859, the umpires often seated in padded chairs behind homeplate.

 

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Last Blog without the coveted “Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” in it. Tomorrow we are going into Oakland Stadium to take on the A’s. Now that we are back in the AL fold, we can fulfill our “GBU” feature again.

 

                                   

The Rays Carl Crawford hit a blistering solo homer to right center in the top of the 8th inning. The homer was Crawford’s 4th of the year. Carl is now hitting .282 for the season and has 28 RBI’s. Crawford is a lifetime .299 hitter during Interleague play.

 

                                

 

I want to take a second to congradulate Trever Miller for passing Doug Creek and becoming the most prolific lefty in Rays history. Yesterday, Tever worked his 141st game as the Rays passing Creek.

 

                    

 

Rays rookie third baseman Evan Longoria is currently number one in fielding percentage for his position in the AL with a .977 average. Longoria has been instrumental in the Rays renewed defense on the hot corner.

 

                          

 

The Rays again were playing aggressive ball and committed a few baserunning blunders in the game.  After a missed call by the umpire at third yesterday, Rays manager Joe Maddon was on the umpire crew on any inconsistancy in their call on Sunday. Rays rightfielder Eric Hinske was thrown out at second in the top of the second inning. The Rays however did steal two bases on Sunday. B J Upton and Ben Zobrist stole second on Kyle Lohse.

                         

Evan Longoria also got the offense started in the top of the second by scoring on the Eric Hinske double. Evan had connected on the ground rule double to deep right center earlier in the inning. Longoria  had a pair of two-hits nights in the first two games of this series, his first two of his career. Evan is batting .304 in his last 6 games.

 

                               

 

 Rays reliever Dan Wheeler is probably glad to be leaving St. Louis tonight, and hopes to not see the Cardinals’ Ryan Ludwick any time soon. Ludwick victimized Wheeler twice in this series for huge homers, and was a constant threat on the basepaths.

 

                               

 

Akinora Iwamura went 2-4 today with a double in the top of the 3rd inning. Iwamura scored after BJ Upton’s double in the same inning.

Aki is now hitting .276 for the season. He has also hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games for the Rays.  Since April 24, Aki has reached base via a hit or walk in 21 straight games and is batting .330 during that span.

                              

Rays starter Edwin Jackson must feel a bite snakebit lately in his starts. In his last three starts, Jackson was in line for a win, but a bullpen error cost  Jackson a victory.

Edwin has 5 quality starts this season, tied for first on the team. Jackson went 5.1 innings against the Cards and gave up 1 run on 6 hits before leaving the game with a 3-0 lead. Jackson has now thrown 20  straight scoreless innings for the Rays. Edwin won his first two starts of the season, but is winless since the Mariners’ victory 7-0 at home on April 10th.

                                  

Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist had about 60 friends and family in the stands for Sunday’s game. He was not penciled in to start the game before Rays manager Joe Maddon sat Jason Bartlett out because of a flu bug going through the Rays clubhouse.

Zobrist made the most of his opportunity getting his first two hits of the season and raising his average to .333. Zobrist’ hit two doubles todays  and scored after stealing third and advancing on the Cardinals catchers  throwing error.

 

Because the Rays are playing on the West Coast tonight in Cali., the game will not be broadcast before 9:30 P.M. I will be posting my blog about the game at 8-ish on Tuesday to get some sleep and come up with more great stats and trivia for your enjoyment.  Have a great day and …………..”GO RAYS!”

Long Ball Costly to Rays in Loss

 

Cardinals 9, Rays 8

 

The Rays first round draft pick last year, David Price did some historic during his rehab assignment this week. Price has a last assignment against the New York Yankees extended spring training team and their unexpecting rehab star, A-Rod. Price pitched 5 innings and recorded 10 strikeouts against the squad.

A-Rod struck out twice against Price, and A-Rod smacked a homer of Price to right to remind the lefty what he has in store for him once he gets up to the big squad.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Of all the records that Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig set, the rarest is that Babe and Lou are two of only 38 players in history to have stolen home 10 times or more in their careers.

 

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As you might remember from last night, I am forgiving the “Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” page persona for a few days until we get back to regular American League team play. I hope you enjoy the change and see the same type of  blog writing that has gotten you toi check out my blogs in the past.

Enjoy.

 

The Rays today did not seem to be following the defensive formula that got them to their winning record this season. The defense seemed to be a bit timid, from outfield play, to an infield error.

That error was a throwing error by Jason Bartlett on a infield single to Yadiar Molina that helped set up Molina on second and left two mwn in scoring position for the Cardinals.

 

Rays slugging first baseman Carlos Pena drew two walks today to further demonstrate that he is inching back to his old offensvie power. But the play that will convince you that he might have turned the corner is his 3-run homer in the the top of the 7th inning. Pena now has 9 homers and 23 RBI’s for the season.

 

The Rays collected 18 hits tonight, their best offensive outburst of the season. Every Rays starter got a hit today, with  Carl Crawford and B J Upton getting three hits each. But the offensive juggernaut of the day was shortstop Jason Bartlett, who went 4-5 with two runs scored today.

 

Cliff Floyd came on as a pinch hitter in the top of the 6th inning. Floyd came up batting for pitcher Gary Glover  and drove the ball to deep right center to score Jason Bartlett. Floyd is now batting .387 for the year.

                        

Rays  starting pitcher Matt Garza pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 10 hits and 7 runs before being replaced by Gary Glover. Cardinal Troy Glaus in now batting .400 against Garza lifetime after his 2-RBI single to center in the bottom of the 1st inning.

                         

Baserunning errors by the Rays accounted for lost runs that could have ended this game in regulation.  B J Upton was thrown out at third by Cardinal centerfielder Skip Schumaker in the top of the 5th inning.

                          

Evan Longoria was picked off first by Cards starter Adam Wainwright in the top of the first inning.

Carl Crawford was also thrown out by Molina in the top of the 2nd inning trying to steal second base.

Greg Gross was caught stealing second in the bottom of the 9th inning to end regulation play for the Rays.

                  

 

One more afternoon game against the Cardinals then  we will be heading to the Oakland A’s for a three game series aginst the A’s before coming home for another home stand.

 The Rays currently holding a half game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox. Thi is the longest time period (4 days) that the Rays have held onto the top spot in their division.  The Rays have been in first or tied for first for 11 days this season.

 

 

BJ Upton went up on the centerfield wall to try and get Cardinal Ryan Ludwick’s game winning homer in the bottom of the 10th inning. B J hit the wall hard and was shaken up on the play. B J was attended to by Assistant Trainer Paul Harker who walked off the field with Upton after the play.

 

Sonnanstine Helps Himself to Victory Over the Cards

 

Rays 3, Cardinals 1

 

Because of a rainout at Fenway, the Rays are now 2 games up on Boston for the night. I was watching the Rays and the Cards and was really wanting to be at Busch stadium tonight. It looked like a great night, and the Cowbell Kidd was there. Damn it, he loves to steal thunder.  I  was all but packed to go, then my IRS Stimulus check did not get put in my account by Friday like their voucher said it would.  Federal Gov’t coverup to keep me in Florida, just kidding Secret Service guys.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Guy Hecker of the 1886 American Association is the only pitcher to win a batting title, playing the field when he was not pitching. He won 26 games as a starter, and hit .341 for Louisville.

 

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I have decided to let the “Good,The Bad,andThe Ugly” segment rest while we are on our Inter-league schedule. It will be back in force on Monday when we visit the Oakland A’s in “O-town”.

            

Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine ( 6-1) went  8 innings tonight and gave up 1 run on 8 hits. More impressive still is the fact he also did it at the plate tonight.  Sonnanstine went 2-3 tonight with a run scored and posted a .667 average for the Rays pitchers to shoot for this series. Andy was in command on the field and in the batter’s box hitting two really professional hits to show he can hit the ball. Before tonight, Andy was 2-4 lifetime as a hitter with a RBI and a run scored.

 

 

This was the Rays first visit ever to new Busch Stadium. Before tonight, the Rays had never beaten the Cardinals in a game. Tonight, only the Cincinatti Reds stand as the only team the Rays have not beaten once in the regular season. The only other ballparks that the Rays have never played in are: Dodger Stadium( LA) and Miller Park (Milwaukee).

        

Akinora Iwamura is continuing to improve at the plate. He just finished a 11-game hitting streak and is already laoding for another run at his personal best streak. Aki went 3-5 tonight, with a double and an RBI. He also scored a run in the top of the third after Carlos Pena singled to center.

Aki now has 6 multi-hit games in his last 7 starts. He is hitting .367 since May 2, 2008. He has also not grounded into a double play this season in 166 at-bats, and was the hardest to double-up last year in the AL.

                                

Some times Eric Hinske looks so relaxed and at ease in Rightfield that you know he will be okay out there. The he goes and misses a easy out like this and the Cardinals Troy Glaus geta a triple on the play. Hinske was not playing the hitter correctly and did not get a great jump to catch this ball.

 I thought he had adjusted right, but then we see the ball on the turf and Glaus motoring for third base.  Thank goodness the Rays got Gabe Gross as a late inning defensive replacement. I could see Hinske cost us a game with an “iffy” hit to right in the 9th.

 

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena has been hitting better the last few games, and his offensive average is starting to go upwards finally. Pena still had a strike out tonight and left  two men in scoring position.  Carlos is now hitting .212, which is alot better than the .200 with no RBI’s and homers of a week ago.

He has been hitting the ball with power and  has gotten better elevation on his hits. It is a matter of time until he connects again for the fences( maybe tomorrow’s early game).

 

On the other side of the ball, Eric Hinske and Dioner Navarro were the only two Rays to not get a hit tonight both went a combined 0-7 tonight.

The Rays did get three doubles tonight one each from Aki, Evan Longoria, and B J Upton.  Carl Crawford got his 25th RBI of the year, and Andy Sonnanstine also had a sacrifice.

The Rays also had another double play tonight going 4-6-3 in the bottom of the third inning. Andy Sonnanstine’s omly run came on a homer by Cardinal Chris Duncan in the bottom of the 8th inning. Andy is tied for 5th in winning percentage this season (857) in the majors.

 

 

Tomorrow is an early contest, starting at 1:10 P.M. EST. The game will feature  Matt Garza (2-1) versus Adam Wainwright (3-2).

 

 

 

                       Hamilton should be grinning after going 5 for 5 with two homers and five RBI.  (AP)

 

Just want to give a shout out to a former Rays who had a “killer” day game today. The Texas Ranger’s Josh Hamilton went 5-5, with 4 runs scored and 5 RBI’s. That raises his MLB leading RBI total to an impressive 49 RBIs.

Hamilton had a triple and two homers in the game. His second homer was a two-run shot of the facade off the second deck of seats in rightfield.

 

 

Kazmir Sends Yankees Out of Town With a Frown

 

Rays 5, Yankees 2

 

You know what is so weird about an afternoon game, you are not hungry when you get there. But when you leave, you are screaming for the nearest drive-thru window.

I did the next best thing today and did the $5 Subway Sub to honor the “dive” the Yankees have done so far this year. I am sorry we beat you three times and sent you to the AL East cellar. Check out the dunegeon bar and grill, they have fine chicken wings, but are hot as hell.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

On July 4th 1939,
Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees, was the first man to have his number(4) retired.

 

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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 Scott Kazmir(2-1), who just inked a serious contract extention pitched a gem to show not onl,y good faith in the signing, but a sign of things to come for the power lefty. Scott pitched 6 innings of 3-hit shutout ball before leaving after throwing 100 pitches exactly today. At the time he left the game,  the Rays had a 5-0 lead for Kazmir.  Scott also struck out only three today, while walking three. It seemed he was in control of his primary pitches, but was having a bit of trouble with his slider today.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

*** Aki Iwamura, who just finished a 11-game hitting streak got the scoring started with a  solo blast to right in the first innig to get the scoring started for the Rays. Aki also went 2-3 and scored two runs today. Aki has lifted his average to .265. That is 55 point better than a week ago, and he is getting better at bats and pitches right now.

 

** Rays closer extrodinare Troy Percival put hid own personal stamp on tonight’s win. Troy entered the game in the top of the 9th and retired the first two batters with strikeouts before Johnny Damon hit a fly ball to Carl crawford to end the game, and give Percival his 10th save of the year. Percival is slowly gaining on Rollie Fingers, who is next in line on the All-Time saves list for Percival.

 

* I call this guy the “Brad Pitt” of the minors. He is so devil-may-care, and totally likeable you wanrt him to succeed. With the success of Dioner Navarro lately, Shawn Riggans has seen his playing time go to a crawl. But after today, 2-3 performance, Rays manager Joe Maddon might have two options at catcher in the coming weeks. Riggans helped his cause with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 4th, that also scored Eric Hinske. Riggans is now hitting .250, but also scored two runs to go along with his two RBI’s.

 

                                                 The Bad

 

Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett was a late scratch today  to take care of a family matter. Rays super sub, Ben Zobrist saw his first action of the year since coming off the DL this week. Zobrist looked a bit aprehensive at the plate and went 0-2 today. Ben is a great defensive shortstop, and  made several key plays today.

Carlos Pena is still having trouble getting the men in scoring position home today. Carlos had two opportunites today and struck out twice today. Pena is leading the AL in strikeouts with 50.

 

                                             The Ugly

 

I know the flight from Tampa to New York is usually about 3 hours long, but I can feel the tension that this one will feel like an allnighter for the Yankee team. Yankee honco Hank Steinbrenner the other day called out the players by saying “They should play like the Rays”.

I do not know where he is getting that, but I hope he means that the Rays are playing hustle, no-quit baseball with a agressive batting style.

I know that several key Yankees are hurt or rehabbing and will be aback soon, but the lack of adequate replacemtns shows the team’s farm system woes right now. The Yankees promoted two minor relievers this week from their lower  minor league squads to hasten their learning curve and hope to be a help come Summer time.

 It is going to be a long couple of months in NY until all players are healthy and their pitching situation is stabilized to suit the owner’s box.

I expect to see a few heads roll in the mean time, and I would not be putting my neck out to say, Jose Molina might not be the back-up catcher for long.  Before todays game, the Yankees sent reliever Kei Igawa to the minors to bring Ian Kennedy in for today’s game.

 

Former Rays Players’ of the Night:

Being that this is a early blog post, since it was a day game today, I have not gotten the finishing totals of all players in the MLB tonight.

So, with that in mind, I was thinking of just listing 10 former Rays’ players tonight and their respective teams for 2008:

 

Marlon Anderson                                                New York Mets

Chad Gaudin                                                     Oakland A’s starter

Doug Waechter                                                  Florida Marlins reliever

Mark Hendrickson                                            Florida Marlins  starter

Geoff Blum                                                       Houston Astros utility guy

Ty Wiggington                                            Houston Astros third baseman

Brandon Backe                                                Houston Astros starter

Damion Easley                                                New York Mets infielder

Shawn Camp                                                   Toronto Blue Jays reliever

Seth McClung                                                 Milwaukee Brewers reliever

Yankees Grab the Carpet Out From Under the Rays

Yankees 2, Rays 1

 

I have to admit, I now know that some of our Rays fans are probably Red Sox fans in disguise.

 

That is the only excuse I can come with for some of the offensive and really petty things that came out of some of our young and misguided  fans’ mouths tonight. How can you yell something like, “The Yankees S*&$”, when you are losing a game 2-1?

 

And then after the contest, in the tunnels, I heard the banter of a few Rays and Yankees’ fans tossing out blue-collar words in front of young kids.  Nice move guys, kill the respect we fought for for 11 games with one middle finger salute.

 

I am never glad for a loss, but this one might have put the wild Rays fans’ world back in order. For both sets of fans, there is a sense of enlightenment that from now on, on any given night……………..you might not win.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Numbers on jerseys did not become mandatory until the 1930’s

 

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                                          The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

           

                                                  The Good

 

Rays starter James Shields (4-3) was the losing pitcher tonight, but he pitched a good game

 

The opposition came out  really fired up after the comments made by Yankee head honcho Hank Steinbrenner about career changes and future unemployment of slackers

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Shields pitched 7.1 innings of 6 hit ball and gave up two runs. His ERA is at 3.05, and he struck out 6 Yanks tonight. He was in command tonight of all his pitches, but Robinson Cano had his number going 3-3 against Sheilds tonight.

 

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

*** Rays slumping slugger Carlos Pena hit two nice hits tonight that could be a great indicator that he is about to come out of his hitting funk. Carlos hit a screaming liner up the middle in the 4th inning, and got a dying quail hit to left in the second inning.

Pena is now hitting .218 for the year and is still stuck in a 5-way tie for second place in the AL with 8 homers. You have to remember, Pena hit 6 homers before April 14th of this season.

 

**Rays DH Cliff Floyd came off the DL  a few days ago, and has come out swinging the bat. Tonight Cliff got two hits and tested his knee in a first to third baserunning play. Unfortunately, Cliff was out at third on a bullet from Melky Cabrera. Floyd ran strong and made excellient cuts to the bag.

 

* If you can believe this, Dioner Navarro started at catcher again tonight. I am not sure how many nights in a row it has been, because I can not remember the last time Shawn Riggans got a chance to catch.

 

Dioner again went 2-3 tonight and helped plate the Rays lone score. Dioner hit a single to center that scored Evan Longoria. Navarro also threw out Robinson Cano at second to end the top of  the 9th inning for the Yankees.

                        

                                        The Bad

 

I have two bads tonight, one that is just a error and just an adjustment for the fielder. The second one is a  deja vu replay of an event that happened in Sunday’s Angels game between two players.

 

Carlos Pena committed his first error of the seson on a throw to Jason Bartlett at second base. Pena threw a soft throw that sailed a foot over Bartlett’s head into shallow centerfield.

 

Second, A pop fly behind short/third base put both Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett in a holding pattern on who was going to go for the ball. The ball fell to the turf, and Morgan Ensberg strolled into home with the winning run of the night. Bad judgement, no communication between either of them on the play.

                          

                                           The Ugly

 

My ugly is the fact that James Shields is now 0 for-ever against the New York Yankees. That is both home and away 0-for-ever.

 

James is a smart guy, and he knows that a victory against these guys can set up the team for more glory.  He was making mhis 7th career start against the Yankees tonight. He is 0-5 against then with an  7.83 ERA.

 

Shields  has given up 29 earned runs in 33 innings against the Yankees. Hideki Matsui is now batting .500 against Shields ( 7-14 lifetime).

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

    

Tonight’s  former Rays is speedster Joey Gathright of the Kansas City Royals.

 

Joey came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second tonight and hit a opposite field single that scored the Royals two runs. Gathright went 1-2 and the two RBI’s lift his season total to 5.

 

He is currently hitting .255 for the Royals and has 10 stolen bases.

 

 

Rays Are In First Place Dude !!!!!

Rays 2, Yankees 1

 

Let me start by humbly Thanking the Rays for letting  me enjoy my birthday,which is the 14th in a  very regal style fitting for a true fan of a FIRST PLACE team.

 

 I was sitting in my little seat behind the Bullpen area when Gabe Gross hit that shot into Rightcenter, I have never seen Jonny  Gomes run so fast in my entire life. And his batting helmet is in orbit over the Trop right now. The mood was electric, and the Yankee fans were in total disbelief at the loss.

 

Thank you Stu Sternberg for building us this dream team. Thank you Joe Maddon for believing in your vision for the last two years.

 

And to the Rays players’, you have undying respect, admiration, and total committment to my team( like there was any doubt about that here).

 

Enjoy tonight, I know I am a ball of fire inside and I can’t wait for 5:30 tomorrow to do it all over again!!!!!

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

11-consecutive Home victories, tops in the major so far this year. Houston and Minnesota each  had 8 straight wins earlier in the season.

 

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                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                            The Good

 

Sometimes it seems that you can do anything wrong on the field. Rays reliever J P Howell must be feeling pretty blessed right now.  Howell has been on the winning end three time this season for his clutch pitching in the late innings. Howell tonight worked 2 innings tonight and his only blemish was a base on balls to Bobby Abreu in the top of the 11th inning. There is an old saying, “It is better to be lucky than good sometimes .” This Rays squad is both lucky…….and good.

 

Honorable Mention “Good guys”:

 

 

*** Jonny Gomes came on as a pinch runner for Cliff Floyd after Cliff singled into rightcenter in the bottom of the 11th inning. Jonny then proceeded to steal second on Mariano Riveria and get into scoring position. Because a righty(Wang) was starting tonight, Gomes had the night off until the 11th inning. Jonny was already past thrid when Melky Cabrera was throwing the ball into catcher Jose Molina.

 

** Rays starter Edwin Jackson held the Yankees scoreless during his 7 innings of work tonight. Jackson allowed 5 hits and struck out 5 yankee batters before leaving the game.  Jackson threw 111 pitches tonight.

 

* Gabe Gross is another guy who is sitting under a magical star right now. When he first got here from the Brewers’, he was having a hard time adjusting at the plate. But in recent games, he has been getting better contact and more aggressive at the plate. Tonight he was a late inning defensive replacement and only got 2 at-bats. We all know that he made his second at-bat count in the “win” column.

 

                                               The Bad

 

To be a closer in the MLB, you have to have a heart of stone sometimes, and a bit of an absent mind. Things happen that would destroy most people. But it is your job to secure  a victory for your team.

 

Tonight is a night Troy Percival will hope to forget when he goes to sleep. His offspeed pitch to Hideki Matsui was wrapped around the righfield foul pole to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the 9th innig tonight.

 

 It was Percival’s second blown save of the week.

 

Carlos Pena is looking like he is starting to try to hard to make something happen at the plate. He did not look relaxed or at ease at all in his at bats tonight.

 

Carlos has been hovering at the low 200’s now since about April 14th, and has shown positive signs of coming back to his power stroke. But, tonight was not one of those night.

 

                                               The Ugly

 

Rich Herrera is the Rays radio pre and post game announcer for the Rays. He has stressed that the Rays fans need to “act like we have been there before.”

 

What he is referring to, is winning.

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but a small segment of our fans have been taunting and acting like peacocks the last few games.  I know there have been years of hearing the same from Boston and New York fans alike, but a Southern man and woman should have more class than to pull their shorts down and tell a rival to kiss a big hairy wet spot on your &@.

 

Come on people, I am the first to be more than proud, but I also know we need to gain respect before we are treated with it in return. We have not been to the playoffs, like our rivals, we have not entertained a World Series event at the Trop.

 

We have to be humble and know that this roller coaster could come crashing down on us, or we could enjoy the ride and know that better things are in store for us in the future.

 

So, here is my plight, We, the fans of the Rays need to use self control and watch our mouths and antics. The world is watching us, and we can either be viewed as a “redneck franchise”, or as a class of fans who know what sportsmanship is all about……………..the choice is yours……choose wisely.

 

In closing, to all Rays fans, enjoy tonight. We will have the same results and more first place standings in our future. Relish the night we started to turn our franchise and our town into winners the entire country could love too.

 

 

Rays Quiet Yankees With Their Bats

 

Rays 7, Yankees 1

 

I thought I would not see the day when the Rays fans would out cheer the Yankee faithful who came to the Trop tonight. But it did happen, and the Yankees fans were heading for the exits after the last out in the 6th inning.

I know the team is without it’s usual plethra of superstars, but this Rays squad is pretty impressive on its own here.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Last year at this juncture in the season, the Rays were in last place and were 7 games under .500. This season, the team is 6 games over .500 and a half a game out of first in the AL East.

Now that is a turn-around season.

 

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                                    The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

              

                                       The Good

Rays DH, Jonny Gomes had another “coming out” party tonight. Gomes has been the forgotten soul when the ?Rays DH’s have been mentioned in articles and Jonny made sure people knew he still had the heart and desire to play this game.

Gomes went 2-4 with 3 runs scored tonight and stole two bases. Jonny stole second in the 2nd inning off Yankee starter Andy Pettitte, one of the best pick-off artists in the league. He then repeated it by stealing third in the 4th inning.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Evan Longoria played a superb defensive third base tonight. He robbed several Yankee batters of sure extra base hits down the line. Longoria also contributed with his bat, going 2-4 with 2 runs scored tonight. Evan is currently leading the AL rookies with 4 homers this season.

** Aki Iwamura is playing outstanding second base this year. He is one of two players at that position to yet make an error for the year. Iwamura is also in the middle of a 10 game hitting streak where he is hitting .391 during the streak. Aki tonight went 2-5 with 1 RBI.

 

* The nunber one star tonight goes to Dioner Navarro, who went 3-3 tonigt and is in the midst of his own hitting barrage. Dioner is currently batting .362 for the year. This is a mass improvement if you remember that at the All-Star break last year he was batting .177 for the team. Navarro also had 2 RBI’s tonight to raise his yearly total to 12.

 

                                          The Bad

 

In the middle of a great homestand, and a great surge in offensive and defensive “wins”. It is sometimes hard to see a bad thing on the surface. I do see a problem on the horizon, and I know it will hamper the Rays in the future.

The Rays left 10 men stranded on the base paths tonight. Carlos Pena(twice), Jason Bartlett and  Evan Longoria all left men in scoring position tonight. This is not a big stat right now, but in the close games, it can be the key to a victory, or a defeat. Coming through in the clutch, or raising the bar should be the ultimate goal of this team right now.

They are showing the hearts of champions, and the true grit of old-time players. They now need to commit to getting these guys around the bases and establish a rhythm for the offense.

                                 

                                                The Bad

 

I saw a blog title the other night that stated, “This is not your Daddy’s Rays team.” And that is totally true. This is a new era for our organization, and a true beginning in the fashion of winning games.

In comparision, the New York Yankees are having a down year due to injuries and unforseen problems with their pitching staff.

Has this put a damper on the rivalry between these teams. It has not been a problem keeping the morale up on either bench in this rivalry, but in the stands, that might be a different matter.

You see, the Yankees are hampered in this series by having their entire yearly visit to the Trop. scheduled during the weekdays. No weekend for the NY boys here. Just a few weeknights and a few scattered afternoon contests to showcase the kids and the Golden Rays to the new Rays team.

Is this showing up in the stands? I think it has so far this season. The Rays management can not be happy with the Yankees/Rays attendance so far this year. Tonight’s matchup only filled the Trop to 33.7 percent of its seats. And a major starting pitcher was on the mound tonight. A guy who might even be in the Hall of Fame someday. The announced attendance tonight was…………..13,932.

Does that sound like a Yankee crowd to you????

 

 

Former Rays player of the Night:

 

 

My Former Rays player of the Night is a personal favorite of mine. I knew this guy could play baseball the first time I saw him take BP at the Trop. He had magic in his bat, but personal things kept him from our outfield.

Josh Hamilton went 2-5 tonight against the Seattle Mariners in a game that lasted 10 innings. Josh had 4 RBI’s tonight to up his AL leading RBI total to 43 for the year. Hamilton is also hitting .306 for the year.

Josh also hit his 8th homer of the year to put him in a four-way tie for second in the AL.

 

 

 

Crawford Send Angels Home with a Frown

 

Rays 8, Angels 5

                                                                          

Major League Baseball and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation are team up  for “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer ” Mother’s Day promotion…. Players will use special pink bats produced by Louisville Slugger that will be auctioned off at a later date…… players will be wearing pink wristbands and a pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness will adorn the uniforms of players and on-field personnel.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

In 1957, Warren Spahn became the first left-handed pitcher to win a Cy Young Award.

 

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                                       The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                                         The Good

 

Carl Crawford gave all the Mothers in the Rays family a great gift by sending a Justin Speier’s slider into the rightfield stands and secure a sweep, and another victory for the Rays 8-5 today. Crawford went  3-5 today with 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI’s. His RBI total has risen to 23 for the year. Carl also stole 2 bases to raise his total to 12 for the season, which has him currently ranked 4th in the American League.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

*** Rightfielder Gabe Gross got another outfield assist when he gunned down Vlad Guerrero at home in the top of the 5th inning.

 

** The top three guys in the batting order today went 9-15. Aki Iwamura, Crawford and B J Upton all went 3-5 today and accounted for  7 runs and 5 RBI’s.  The top three are finally showing the promise we saw in them in the spring.

 

* Designated Hitter Cliff Floyd was re-instated to the roster yesterday and brought his  pink bat with him today. Floyd went 2-4 with 2 RBIs,a dn is now hitting .368 for the year. With a power lefty now in Joe Maddon’s stable, it creats another weapon on the bench for the Rays to use against the AL right-handers.

 

                                              The Bad

 

Andy Sonnanstine has had an amazing season so far, but today’s game will not be in his personal highlight reel.  Andy pitched 6 inning and allowed 8 hits and 5 runs, while throwing 86 pitches. Andy did not adjust his pitches during the game and his off-speed pitches were a bit off today.

 

The only other “bad” that happened today was that Carl Crawford committed an error today that ended the Rays errorless streak, and gave a double to the Angels’  gave up a pinch hit double to Kendry Morales in the top of the 9th inning.  Morales ended up being stranded at thrid and caused no harm to the Rays lead.

 

                                                  The Ugly

 

First off, I feel bad for Angels reliever Justin Speier this weekend. The guy came in twice this weekend, and gave up a 2-run and a 3-run homer to secure the Rays a victory. Things get better, and plays happen, it was just our time.

 

This is actually going to be a “good” Ugly. The Rays have now swept three team at home this season. The Jays( in Orlando), the Boston Red Sox, and now the Angels have been swept by this team at the Trop. this season. Joe Maddon talked to the Maddon’s Maniacs yesterday and commented that the Trop is beginning to become “the Pit”.

 

Joe has a vision of this stadium being a place that other teams will hate to come play a game against the Rays. That the crowd noise will divert energy and confidience, and will show these teams that the Rays are on the rise and will have to be respected from now on………

 

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

 

Tonight’s Former Rays is a favorite of mine. It is Kansas City Royal Jose Guillen. Jose is currently limited to DH duties becuase of a hip flexor injury, but is contributing nightly for the Royals.

Today he went 2-4 with an RBI, and a run scored for the team. He is currently hitting only .207 for the season. 

 

 

 

Back-to-Back Shutouts Doom Halos

 

Rays 2, Angels 0

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Rays currently are scoring 29 more runs than the opposition from the 7th innig on this year (60-31). That statistic is leading the league in run differential from the 7th inning on this year.

 

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                                The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

 

                                            The Good

 

Rays pitchers have now blanked the AL West division co-leaders two games in a row, and are looking for their thrid sweep of the season at home tomorrow. Rays pitchers have now posted 18 shutout innings against the Anaheim Angels this series.

 

Scott Kazmir was joking and laughing with B J Upton during the  Rays’ team photo today. Both were perched on the second level of the risers and seemed to be enjoying their own private jokes while the other players took their spots in the shoot. Kazmir held that calm, loose demeanor throughout his 6 innings tonight and even his record at 1-1.

 

Kazmir is in just his second start since he came off the DL with an elbow strain. Tonight was also Kazmir’s 99th career start, and 100th appearance. Scott struck out 8 Angels tonight and  did not start out like the old Kazmir. In the first few innings, Scott seemed to be focusing in on his mecahnics and posted some low velocity numbers on the pitch clock. As the game progresses, and he got more secure in his release point, Scott’s speed and pitch selection kept the Angels’ hitter at bay.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Carlos Pena upped his RBI total to 19 with a sacrifice fly to center to score Carl Crawford from third and up the score to 2-0.

 

** Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett went 2-3 in the game with a double in the bottom of the 7th inning to get into scoring position for the Rays. Bartlett also combined with Aki Iwamura for a critical double play late in the game.

 

* Aki Iwamura is looking more relaxed and hitting the ball closer to the ground in the past few games. Iwamura went 3-5 tonight, with a run scored in the bottom of the 1st inning.

                                     

                                          The Bad

In a game like this, it is sometimes hard to find a critcal mistake or “bad” move. Tonight I am going to talk about the Carl Crawford steal attempt in the bottom of the second inning. Carl got caught stealing second by Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli in a one-sided tag out.

 

Carl seemed a bit unsure and did not get a clean break to second on the play. On most nights, Carl’s speed and adaptive nature can get him the steal. Tonight the ball was waiting there for Carl on a bullet from Napoli.

                       

                                                 The Ugly

 

I unfortunately have a clear choice for the “ugly” play of the night. It happened in the bottom of the 7th inning with the Rays up only 1-0 at the time.

 

Shortstop Jason Bartlett had just doubled to left and was standing on second when Iwamura hit a rocket to Erik Aybar at short for the Angels. Aybar juggled with the ball, and was about to go to first, when he saw that Bartlett was trying to score on the play. Aybar threw to Napoli, who covered the plate perfectly and tagged out Bartlett.

 

Bartlett did not run through a “stop” sign at third, but was given the sign to go for the plate with two outs in the inning. The play ended the Rays scoring chances, and left the score close at 1-0 going into the top of the 8th inning. Third base coach Tom Foley did not even hesistate to stop Bartlett, but took the gamble to maybe secure another run for the team.

 

Former Rays player of the Night:

               

 Tonight’s former Rays player is current Cincy outfielder Ryan Freel. Ryan went 3-5 with two runs scored in the Red’s loss to the New York  Mets 12-6. Freel hit two singles and a double tonight and stole his 5th base of the year.

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