Rays Ride C.C. to Sweep of Cubs

 

 

Rays 8, Cubs 3

 

I opened my laptop today and went straight to ESPN.com to see if they are finally taking the Rays off the “fluke” label. 

 Much to my amazement, we are still thought to be a minor blip in the Red Sox radar for another  World Series title. Funny, I thought we just SWEPT the BEST team in baseball.  I must be in a sugar induced coma and miss the last few games.

I thought it was a great tribute by Rick Vaughn, the Rays PR guru, in making that  “SUT” sign that hung over the organist area in the Trop during Wed. night’s game.

It was a great personal tribute to Rick Sutcliffe, an ESPN  baseball announcer and great player who is undergoing colon cancer surgery and could not be here for the Cubs vs Rays game.

Rick got to know Sutcliffe while with the Baltimore Orioles PR staff before coming to the Rays.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The first Interleague game was played on June 12,1997,when the Texas Rangers hosted the NL San Francisco Giants. The giants won the first contest 4-3.

 

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The 34,441 fans in attendance were magical last night and gave the Trop. an aire of what kind of atmosphere a playoff game would have in this dome. Everywhere you looked you saw Cub and Rays bantering out their espective teams chances that night.

 

But, I hinge the Cubbie fortunes on one play that signified their series with the Rays. The Cub brought in a Japanese star this season, Kosuke Fukudome to play outfield for the Chicago Cubs. He has been met by instant cult status in the North side of Chicago and has been a important part of the Cubs winning ways.

 

In the 3rd inning, with Fukudome on first after walking to start the inning, Dioner Navarro called for a pitchout on the  second pitch to Ryan Theriot. Navarro had caught Fukudome in “no-mans land” and proceeded out to the pitching mound to get Fukedome to committ either to 1st or 2nd.

Fukedome faked to first and Navarro threw a strike to Willy Aybar that made Fukudome retreat towrds second. a three quarters of the way to second, Aybar threw to Iwamura who outran Fukudome for the out.

 

           

 

 

Rays starter James Shields came out on fire last night at the Trop. Shields pitched 6 innings of 7-hit, 3-run ball before getting into trouble in the 7th inning. In that inning,  Micah Hoffpauir hit a double to deep center for a double, then Mark DeRosa walked on 4 pitches and Mike Fontenot hit a ground rule double to the deep gap in left center to put the Cub ahead 2-1.  Shields was the replaced by Trever Miller in the game.

 

Shields ended up with 9 strikeouts for the night to up his season total to 78, good enough for 9th place in the AL this year.

 

 

 

I was sitting there talking to a Cubs fan from the Fort Meyers area of Florida when Carl Crawford came up to bat with the bases loaded in the 7th inning. The guy was telling me this would be a great time for a double play, but I interjected that C C was past due for some excitement and had not hit a triple or better in quite awhile.

 

 

 

On his second pitch to Crawford, Scott Erye laced a ball to the lower right of the strike zone that C C  deposited in the rightfield stands for his 5th homer of the year, and a Grand Slam to break this contest wide open for the Rays.

 

                           

 

 

There are so many heroes in the game last night, from Crawford going 3-5 with 4 RBIs, to every meber of the lineup but Gabe Gross getting a hit last night. Eric Hinske again came up big for the Rays getting a RBI double  a couple of batters after Crawford’s blast to add to the Rays lead.

 

James Shields caught a bunt pop-up from Cub;s catcher Henry Blanco that might have stalled that drive a bit. The Cub were on a roll before Shields leaned over and took the short pop for the 1st out in the 7th inning.

 

 

The amazing thing is, you could have sat in the Budweiser Brewhouse eating, drinking and enjoying the night and got to your seat by the 7th inning, and you would have seen the best inning of the night. Both teams scored a total of 10 runs that inning, on less than 60 pitches by both teams.

 

You would have seen a Grand Slam, a ground rule double, a regular double, a Sacrifice Fly, and a couple of singles by both squads. You also would have seen  Gabe Gross and Akinora Iwamura each hit by a pitch. Aki’s HBP would drive in a run for the Rays. And last, but not least, you would have seen a B J Upton triple that could have been a Inside-the-Park homer if he had raced to first.

 

 

With the victory, the Rays established a few “firsts” for the franchise last night:

 

With the win, it was the first ever sweep by the Rays of a team with the best record in baseball.

 

With the victory, the Rays tied their best start ever before the All-Star break, and they still have 22 games before the break.

 

Climbed to 14 games above .500, a new team highwater mark, recorded their 3rd sweep of a team in first place at the time of the series. And, secured their 5th winning homestand of the year.

 

 

 

All that and only Eduardo Perez of “ESPN’s Baseball Tonight”, can acknoledge and appriciate the change in this team this year. Eduardo is in a bad position on that panel having played here and knows the trials and tribulations of this team. But he also can see firsthand the changes and the attitude that this club has now.

 

The thing that is truly amazing to me is, that for the first time since I have been a fan, these guys get physically upset and want more out of themselves. And that fever is infectious into the stands, and starting to consume the entire region either by true passion for the sport, or being a bandwagon fan.

 

Speaking of Bandwagons, be sure to check out ESPN.com today as they feature a story on the Cubbie fans coming out of the woodwork right now. It is an interesting article, and well worth a few minutes of your time.

 

 

I am going to paste Rule 9 of the Bandwagoneers Code on here for you, and you see what team’s fan can be put into this rule………hint, hint:

 

9. Avoid “real” fans

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These people think they are better than you. They think because they actually do have real family from Massachusetts or wherever, or because they have invested 30 years in a team instead of 30 minutes, that they somehow are more die-hard than you.

 

They will be suspicious of you. They will ask you questions that can tread dangerously close to revealing that you know little more than how to pronounce “Theriot” or the name of that one underrated player.

 

Shame on them! How dare they try to make you feel guilty for being a bandwagon fan! They are the stupid ones for wasting time rooting for bad teams, right?

 

So steer clear of these people. And whatever you do, don’t let them anywhere near your car. They might get the wrong impression when they see that your bumper is covered in Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Patriots, USC football and Duke basketball stickers.

 

As though it’s your fault that you have deep, childhood ties to all those teams!

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There are several articles on Cub bandwagoning, and general bandwagon ethics. I found the articles entertaining, and I actually recognized a few Rays hopefuls in that bunch of words.   Hmmmmmmm, could be we are becoming a bandwagon team?

 

As long as you buy more hot dogs and beer, Welcome to the Trop., but please do not try and trump the regulars, we bite when provoked. 

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