Rays Strikeout against Royals

 

 

Royals 4, Rays 2

 

 

Worst thing about watching this game last night, I wish I was there. I have always wanted to go to Kansas City to check out the areaand attend a game at Kaufmann Stadium.

I have been there a few times to play football, but the Royals were already done for the season, and you hate to walk through a vacant ballpark.

I used to love to eat at Bryant’s or get some great ribs off a corner storefront, but I have never had the pleasure of watching a game in that ballpark. I almost went in 2003, but decided to take a trek to Cleveland that season instead. I like the surrounding of the stadium, and will get there before it is gone.

Something about that park gets me giddy to check it out. Maybe it is the water foutain and falls effect, maybe it is the flashs of the cute mid-western girls.  Maybe it is because so much baseball history has flowed through those stands. George Brett and Bo Jackson used to play there. And there have been World Series games, and an All Star game played there too.

And, to let a fellow Rays’ fan know, they do not have tractor parking at the ballpark. Sorry to ruin your vision of the ballparks’ patrons like that.

 

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When you have a game like this, where do you start.

I will start with the glaring reason I think we lost this game. The Tampa Bay Rays have 742 strikeout this season as a team. That places them 8th in the majors. We also have 3 Rays in the top 10 in strikeouts in the AL. Carlos Pena, even though he was out for a period of time, is currently 3rd with  98 strikeouts. B J Upton (87), and Evan Longoria (88) round out our top 3 K-artists.

The game last night saw the Rays get to Royals starter Gil Meche early in the game with a high pitch count in the first three innings. The Rays did not take advantage of this, and Meche walked away with his 8th victory of the season.

Tampa Bay had Meche at 31 pitches in just the 1st inning. Evan Longoria and Pena battled with Meche with extended at-bats, with only Longoria getting a single off him.

At the end of the 2nd inning, the Rays had Meche at 48 pitches, and should have been able to close the door on the starter. But they let him escape with only a single by both Dioner Navarro and Jason Bartlett in the inning.

With Meche on the ropes with a high pitch count, the Rays  ended  both the 3rd and 4th innings on strikeouts. The Rays let Meche survive until the 8th inning.  That was a major mistake by the Rays batters in this game and a huge key to this loss.

 

 

 

One of the positives of this game was the return of  shortstop Jason Bartlett for the Rays.

Bartlett, who had been out for the past 16 games with a right knee sprain suffered while stealing 3rd base on July 2nd.  While he was on the DL, The Rays went 7-9 without him in the lineup.

Not that I think he is a huge cog to this Rays hitting machine this season, but he certainly been a consistant  force at the plate for the Rays offense this year. Bartlett went 3-3 tonight with 2 singles and a double.

 His double in the 8th inning to deep left help set up the Rays first run of the night. Bartlett scored on a Upton grounder to short to put the Rays on the board. 

Bartlett played a great game on defense. The Rays had two double plays tonight with Bartlett attributing to both plays.  

 If I had to pick a player of the night, it would be Bartlett without any reservations. He was a huge threat at the plate, and showed great poise and enegry in his first game back for the Rays.

 

 

Matt Garza  now has a lifetime record of 0-4 against the Royals. Some teams just seem to get to certain pitchers. Maybe KC is the achilles heel for Garza. 

Matt got in trouble early tonight giving up to singles in the 1st inning, and letting the Royals draw frist blood on a Sacrifice Fly by David DeJesus to put them up 1-0.

But the 3rd inning, saw Garza pitch 24 pitches and set the tone for the rest of the game. In the 4th, Garza gave up 3 hits in the inning before making a critical mistake at first base.

Mitch Maier put down a soft grounder to the right of the bag at first that pulled Carlos Pena off the bag. Garza got a late break for the bag and Mier beat the toss to Garza for an infield hit. Mentally, it seemed that Garza did not connect the play in time to get the out. With the Royals already up 4-0 at the time, Garza’s fate was sealed for the night.

 

The Worst part about this loss, is the fact it brought the Rays even with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Rays had an extra game tonight to put a small cushion between them and the Red Sox, but could not get the victory. With the Rays till playing three more in KC before leaving for Toronto, it is very important that they take this series with the Royals.

Boston will be entertaining the New York Yankees this weekend, and it can put either more distance between the Rays and the Yankees, or put Boston in the drivers’ seat for the rest of the season. Either the Rays come out 3-behind Boston( Red Sox sweep), or even with the Yankees (Yankees sweep) in the AL East. 

This weekend is critical for the race for the playoff for all three teams. With two of the top 3 playing each other, it could help knock one team to a comfortable distance behind the other two with less than 60 games to play this season. Or, it could be a split series by all three and the standings would put all three within 2 games of each other. Fun, Fun , Fun.

 

Evan Longoria went 2-3 last night, and scored the second run for the Rays in the 9th inning. Longoria had a single in the 1st inning that moved Carl Crawford into scoring position, but the Rays did not capitalize on the inning.

For the season, the Rays are currently hitting only .248 with runners in scoring position.

 

 

In the 9th inning, Longoria hit a double off Royals’ closer Joakim Soria and moved to third on Pena’s single to center. The ball was not deep enough for Longoria to try and stretch for home on the play.  Cliff Floyd then came up and hit a deep ball to center that scored Longoria for the Rays final run of the game.

 

The Rays had 5 strikeouts on the night, all 5 were by two Rays players. Pena had 2 strikeouts, ans Eric Hinske was guilty of three on the night, including the last out of the game on a called third strike.

 

J P Howell came on for Garza in the 6th inning and pitched a 1-hit inning for the Rays.  J P is now only 2.2 innings away from a Rays record for relief innings by a left-hander set by Doug Creek in 2001.

Howell currently leads all AL lefties in relief innings this season. J P moved back to 2nd in both the AL and majors in innings pitched 2/3 of an inning behind Brian Bass of the Twins ( 60.2 innings).  In his last 14 appearances, Howell has a 0.47 ERA, with 22 strikeouts.

 

Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler threw scoreless 7th and 8th innings respectfully to close out the contest for the Rays. In those 2 innings, each pitcher retired the side on 10 pitches.

 

 

 

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