Rays win Round 1..ding ding

 

 

Rays 5, Red Sox 4

 

 

Wow! The Red Sox Nation must be a bit upset today.

 One of our own devices, the imfamous catwalks, almost got them a win in this critical 3-game series. It was exciting to see 34,000 plus at the Trop. But more exciting was seeing them trapped in the Rotunda due to torrential rain outside and have to be subject to “Let’s Go Rays” chants for about 25 minutes.

Some stayed and had fun with it all, others just got wet. 

 Of all the teams in the AL East, the Sox should have some small level of empathy for the Rays. They knew how losing the big ones felt, how close they have come to winning more than the 2 titles they have now. But, most of all, they are suppose to be the “seasoned” fans, who skirt and toss insults with the “Evil Empire”.

They are the ones who should know when to fold them….and run through the rain.

 

Red Sox Nation……………………………………………………………meet the Rays’ Rebellion.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Jackie Robinson played his first game in the International League on April 18,1946 for the Montreal Royals.

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I think this issue more than any other will polarize a few Rays fans for a bit. Either you agree with the argument on the mound or you do not.

Troy Percival has become the veteran heart and soul of your Tampa Bay Rays.  I actually commend and applaud Troy for his effort to try and finish what he started Monday night. We do not see sacrifice for the team as much these days, and it is a welcome sight to me.

 I agree that Troy is not fully healed and maybe should have limited himself more, but if you have ever been a professional at any level, you know you will do anything to feel the rush and thrill of the crowd on a night like that one.

You have to understand the psyche of a professional before you can cast even a small pebble at Troy.

 I know from years of gutting out ankle sprains, chest and ribs contusions, and hamstring pulls, that you go until you can not walk or stand up straight anymore. You fight until the pain goes above the pills and shots that  you might have used to get you there.

You fight the good fight………………period.

With that in mind, what Troy did can not be put in any way, shape or form, in the ballpark of any of the incidents around the league in the last week.

Troy had a heated, emotional argument with a man he respects alot. Rays Manager Joe Maddon knows what ticks inside of Troy and he took it for what it was on the mound. An emotional volcano that spewed frustration and disappointment, nothing more than that.

You think he would have had that same charged discussion with Jim Hickey?

Nope, he would have just whisked Hickey and the trainers back to the bench without a thought. Give credit to Dioner Navarro for calling out the troops from the dugout. Even before Troy limped to cover third,  you saw him motion to the bench. That is another classy move by Dioner this year.

Troy is seriously still hurt. That limp/hop covering third was not a charlie horse or a muscle cramping up, it was a high degree of pain and discomfort spiking up his leg. It is almost a certain that he will be shut down and rested for a bit, but he will be back……oh, he will be back.

 

                    

 

3-games, 3 first pitch hits. Where did B J Upton hide this hitting magic, and why did he pick now to showcase it?

Upton hit his 6th homer of the year on the first pitch he saw last night. Great to put the Rays up 1-0, but should B J’s name be mentioned from now on in Lead-off hitter discussions around the locker room. Could he have found a spot in the lineup that has no pressure on him, that he can just be B J?

With Akinora Iwamura coming back tomorrow off suspension for the last Boston-Tampa Bay series actions, we might have seen the last of this “lead-off” experiment for awhile. But there will be talk about it, and there will be arguments that it might be the right home for his bat.

 

                                        

 

Gabe Gross must be the first person in the Trop last night to curse the catwalks. When Brandon Moss hit a ball into the “B” ring for a ground rule double, Gross was camped out waiting for the ball in rightfield to pass the ring.  Instead, the ball popped off the ring toward the first base foul line and Gross had to hustle to get it before another Red Sox score.

The rings have played a part in other Red Sox series at the Trop. Remember Shane Hillebrand’s shot into the electrical boxes on the “C” ring stuck up there.  It will not be the last hit into the imfamous catwalks, but isn’t the controversy fun to talk about for the next few days.

 

                      

 

The Rays fans are seeing that Carlos Pena is starting to heat up at the plate, which could mean trouble for opposing pitchers the rest of the year. Carlos has been swinging the bat better since his first start Friday in Pittsburgh.

You can see the back and legs working more with his upper body to put more power behind the ball. In the Sunday game in Pittsburgh, Carlos hit a few long fly balls that showed his bat is there, and the swing is coming along great.

Carlos hit a RBI double to deep right center to score Willy Aybar in the 5th inning last night .  Carlos may have only gone 1-3 last night, but he did not have a strikeout, and got a walk in the 7th inning. Carlos had 2 pop-ups to third last night which is a sign he is leaning a bit too much into the ball.

 

 

 

Gabe Gross again helped the Rays to a win with a 2-run homer to right in the 4th inning to put the Rays up 3-1. It was Gross’s 6th homer of the year. Gross also walked twice and singled to right to go 2-2 on the night. On the past roadtrip, Gabe went 1-10. It is great to see he is out of his slump now and hitting for the Rays.

The Rays managed only 6 hits last night, but they were enough for a victory over the Red Sox.  Besides Upton’s ( 1) and Gross’s ( 2) hits, Carlos Pena, Willy Aybar and Jason Bartlett got hits for the Rays. Willy Aybar also went 1-1 on the night with a walk. 

The Rays recorded 8 walks last night on Red Sox pitching, while striking out 5 times for the night.

 

                                         

 

James Shields picked up his 6th win of the year for the Rays by going 6.1 innings and giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs.  Shields started out the night retiring the first 10 batters he faced last night. Shields got 4 of his 5 strikeouts in that span.

Shields moved into 2nd place last night on the Rays all-time strikrout list with 377 strikeouts.  Shields is currently one of three pitchers in the majors with 2 shutout games this year. He is also one of four pitchers with more than 3 complete games this season.

 

The Rays finished 30 games back of Boston last year, according to Elias Sports Bureau, 7 teams since 2001 have held first place at the halfway point in the year after finishing more than 30 games behind the division leader the previous year. 

 

With the win last night, the Rays have tied their thrid most victories in any month. In the last 3 1/2 weeks, only the White Sox ( 5.95) have averaged more runs per game than the Rays 5.67 in the AL.

The Rays also lead the majors with 88 steals on the year. And they are on a pace to steal 107 by the All-Star break, the most by any major league team since the 1997 Reds (113).

     Coverrays

 

Congrats again to the Rays and their  continued success on the national scene.

Meanwhile, the national media is traversing through Tropicana Field and regularly raving about the Rays, and the Red Sox seem to be aware, if not impressed, by what the Rays have done. Above is the upcoming cover from an issue of ESPN, The Magazine.

And it appears the Yankees have noticed.

Even with the Red Sox headed to the Bronx for a fiery Fourth of July, Yankees are definitely paying attention to the Rays, and, from what Mike Mussina said in this Daily News piece, sound a bit concerned:

“I think they’re going to be there,” Mussina said after taking a tough loss Monday night. “They’ve been doing it for three months, and though they don’t have a history of winning, once you believe you’re a pretty good team, then you can do a lot of things.

“I think they believe now. And I know for sure the rest of us believe they’re a good team. Unless they have a major injury, they’re going to be there.”

 

ESPN’s Peter Gammons weighs in on the market for Indians ace LHP C.C. Sabathia, writing that: “Tampa Bay has lurked, but Rays people say there’s now way they can sign him after the season, and their focus is on a right-handed bat with (Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady) and (the Cubs’ Matt) Murton on their radar.”

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