Rays Walk It Out to Victory

 

 

Rays 6, Marlins 4

 

It was suggested in today’s St. Petersburg Times, that the Rays might back off the November 2008 proposed election referendium and set their sights on a 2010 renewal of the stadium proposal.

 I am not sure if the POWW has that kind of political power to supress this referedium, but the Rays might be doing it more for future public and civic approval than anything else right now. 

If you remember in the past, the city of Seattle was about to lose their fair Mariners’ to the Tampa Bay ownership group. They had asked for a better arena then the outdated and decaying Kingdome, and were met with heavy resistance from local leaders.

Then the Tampa Bay ownership group came in with a price, stadium in place for instant credibility, and the finances to move and refit the teams’ image to suit the Florida enviorment.

Seattle moved quickly and secured the land and the  stadium money to execute theconstruction of Safeco Field. They saved their team and their civic pride by getting a updated and positively breathtaking venue, both in views and  overall stadium construction.

 Do not forget, that a large Japanese company came out and bailed the civic leaders in the last moment and became the new home-based ownership group.

Nintendo was a huge player in the gaming industry at the moment, and could easily bypassed the Mariners and gotten a bigger name team for their coffers. But, Seattle fit the Nintendo need and also gave them a foothold in the AL.

Who knows what will play out in the coming weeks concerning the new proposed stadium.  Hopefully the Rays are using this time to regroup the parking situation, re-configure the building complexes and entertainment areas, and secure a better positive public opinion in the local community.

Just remember, if the Rays put a stadium on either the Toytown, or the present site, they do not need voters’ approval………keep that in the back of your mind.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Willie Mays played the most All-Star games with 24 each.

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First off, Congratulations to Akinora Iwamura for hitting his 200th HR of his professional career.

Aki , with a 3-2 count,hit a 2-run blast to right to score Andy Sonnanstine in the 3rd inning to put the Rays up 2-1. Aki also scored two runs to go with his 2 RBI’s for the night.

Aki also went 3-5 on the night and missed  cycle by only a triple. Aki  also got a single to right in the 8th inning, and a double to deep center in the 9th inning.  Aki is currently hitting .273 for the Rays in the lead-off position.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Aki is in unique company this season.  Aki is only the second player in the last 75 years to  play over 100 games at 3rd as a rookie, and over 100 games at second the following year. The other was Cub’s immortal Ryne Sandberg in 1982-83.

 

          

 

The Rays took a very unique way to win this ballgame down at Dolphin Stadium. They used the walk as an offensive weapon in the 8th inning.

The Rays’ batters took advantage of Marlin’s reliever Joe Nelson’s wildness and turned it into a positive for the night. Nelson  came on in relief with no outs in the 8th inning for Renyel Pinto.

          

 

Nelson continued the rough  inning by having 4 straight batters ( BJ Upton, Dioner Navarro, Evan Longoria, Eric Hinske) sitting at the plate with either a 3-1,or 3-2 count.

               

 

Nelson did have two outs before walking Navarro and Hinske with the bases loaded to put the Rays up 4-3.

 Nelson did not last the inning and was replaced by ex-Rays Justin Miller, who got Jason Bartlet to ground out for the final out of the inning.

 

                           

 

Evan Longoria had a long night South Florida. Earlier in the game, he was blinded by the lights over the Marlins bench on two pop-ups down the third baseline, one behind third, and the other in foul territory and could not execute the outs.

Evan was seen waving his hands and hoping that either Navarro or Bartlett could complete the plays for the Rays.

To complicate the matter, outfielders’ Carl Crawford and B J Upton could not hal in two long drive to the gap in left-center that both fell in  for doubles in the inning.  It was not a great defensive night for the Rays, with Carl Crawford getting an error on one of the catches off the wall in left.

 

                

 

Rays starter, Andy Sonnanstine did not have a great beginning to his night either for the Rays. If you remember his last start against the Marlins, Andy gave up 3 straight hits to start the game before settling down and pitching a great game. 

Tonight was more of the same for Sonnnstine as he gave up a double to Hanley Ramirez to open the contest, and he scored on the single to Jeremy Hermida to put the Marlins up 1-0 in the 1st inning. Sonnanstine then had two wild pitches to the backstop before gaining his composure and ending the inning striking out Dan Uggula.

 

                

Andy went 5 innings and gave up 6-hits and 2-runs for the Rays. Sonnanstine had faced 23 batters in the game and ended with 5 strikeouts.  J P Howell came on the the 6th for Sonnanstine.

J P pitched 2 innings and gave up a hit and a run to the Marlins, but the Rays scored 1 run in the top of the inning to put him in line for the victory. Howell leads the A L  in innings pitched in relief with 52.2 innings.

Howell is the leader among MLB relievers’ with 6 wins and is 1 win shy of the Rays club record for wins by a reliever. J P has posted a 0.92 ERA since May 8th, going 6-0 for the team.

Before this year, he had only been used in relief in the minors with Rookie-level Idaho Falls for 2 appearances in 2004.

 

 

I enjoy watching Troy Percival pitch. I actually like to watch him just before taking the Bullpen mound as he does his military push-ups and stretches like a Yoga instructor to get his back ready for the torque of pitching. He also starts his throwing with long throws ( for a Bullpen area) and even tries and “pops” the glove in warm-ups.

But when he goes out to the mound in that determined walk, and his eyes show no mercy in them, you know he is ready for battle.

But lately, he hs not been the “lights out” Troy we came to expect before his short stint on the DL after a hamstring incident in Oakland.

 I really believe that he is still smarting a bit, but is playing through the pain. He showed evience of that in his pitching performance last night against the Marlins.

 At one point, Percival seemed to fall by the wayside of the mound and Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Rays Trainer, Ron Porterfield came out to talk with Percival. Troy tried to wave them off before they got to the mound, but they still came out and evaluate the situation with Troy.

Troy went on and had an ackward first few batters by his standards. He came out and got pinch-hitter Luis Gonzalez to strikeout.

Then issued walks to Ramirez, Hermedia, and Jorge Cantu. Percival then got Josh Willingham, fresh offthe DL himsef, to ground to third and Evan Longoria got the force at second for the 2nd out.

Percival then walked Dan Uggla to put men at 1st and 2nd for the Marlins. Troy then got  Mike Jacobs ground out to second to end the game.

 

 

The save was Percivals 18th in 20 chances for a 90 percent rating for the year. Opponents are batting .140 aainst him this year, second in the majors.  Last night’s save was also number 342 of his career.

That number is huge, because it put’s him im sole posession of 9th place on the All-Time saves list. Last night, Troy went past the legendary Rollie Fingers to now own 9th place.

Troy also saved all 3 games in the sweep agains the Toronto Blue Jays in May, the first time a Rays reliever has ever saved all 3 games in a series. Lifetime, opponents have batted .184 against him, the lowest among any pitcher with at least 400 appearances in his career.

 

Again, congrats Troy, it could not have happened to a better guy.  And to think, last year a this time you were retired.

 

 

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