Rays Finally Conquer Indians’ Curse
I am going to start today with a few things I have been hearing pop up around the Trop. Either in the clubhouse area, Press box, or maybe even the Men’s bathroom. These are things that are popping all over the Trop., and might be of interest to fans.
Everyone knows by now that Shawn Riggans made his first appearance in the field Monday night, but did you know that he had to use Jonny Gome’s glove in leftfield that night. Shawn does not own a fielder’s glove, only his catching gloves.
There is a rumor, since David Price has now won his second Pitcher of the Week award at Double-A Montgomery, that he will be promoted sometime this week to Triple-A Durham, and might be in a Rays uniform by the L A Angels or Toronto Bluejays homestand. He is on a really fast track to the major’s now after winning his first 10 games of his career.
Everyone might have notived that Rusty, the Rays trusted announcer has not been at the games since the beginnig of this homestand. Well, Rusty had a great reason to not be here. He is currently up in Minnesota, and married. Rusty got married on Sat. night, and that is the reason he missed LL Cool J, and the last few cardiac moment games.
Since my last blog, you know that I will defend Edwin Jackson to the death here. It is with great pride that I announce that Jackson won his 8th game last night and is currently 8-7 for the Rays.
Jackson pitched effectively for the win and gave up 3-runs on 7-hits keep the Indians close and secure the win. Jackson did have trouble in the 1st inning giving up 3 hits and spotting Cleveland a 1-0 score.
Jackson had another mistake in the 3rd inning when he hung a curveball to Jhonny Peralta, who deposited it in right field for a 2-run homer. That put the Indians up 3-1. Jackson struck out 4, but also gave up 4 walks to the Indians.
BJ Upton was patient and got a free pass to first last night in the 1st inning. On the second pitch to Evan Longoria, Upton stole second for his 34th stolen base of the season. The theft puts Upton currently 3rd, but within 3 stolen bases of the AL lead.
In other news, Upton was chastised by Rays manger Joe Maddon after the game for not running out a ball in play to first in a timely manner. Upton seemd to pull up a bit and did not hustle to the bag.
In a recent team meeting, Maddon stressed that the team needed to be accountable for every action, that a hestitation could be the key to losing momentum or a game.
If you remember last season, Delmon Young did the same thing on the second to the last game of 2007, and Maddon disciplined Young by making him sit out the last contest. Stay tuned, someone else might be playing centerfield in the afternoon game tomorrow.
If you have to find a trade that has made this Rays season more successful, you only have to look to rightfield and see Gabe Gross. He has done everything but sell hot dogs and beer at the ballpark this year and has come away with walk-off hits and runs with consistancy.
Gross again became the man of the hour when he ended a 8 pitch at bat with a triple into right centerfield. Dioner Navarro scored on the play and it put the Rays up 4-3. For the night Gross went 2-4, but held his own in rightfield. In the 8th inning, Gross’s arm kept Grady Sizemore to a single by his rifle arm getting the ball into second before Sizemore could turn at first base.
Gross is currently 5-11 on this homestand.
Carlos Pena is finally feeling more relaxed at the plate and not leaning back on his follow through and the ball is constantly getting hit long and hard by the first baseman. Carlos last night went 2-2 last night with 1 rbi and scored 2 runs for the Rays.
Pena hit a scarifice fly in the first to score Akinora Iwamura for the first run of the ball game. In the 4th inning, Pena walked to start the inning before Longoria also walked on 5 pitches. Pena and Longoria each advanced a base on Cliff Floyds ground out to first, before Navarro singled to center to score both Longoria and Pena.
The Rays Bullpen tonight gave up 5 hits and 1 earned run in 4.2 innings of work. J P Howell had the shortest turn tonight pitching 5 pitches, then being replaced by Grant Balfour. Dan Wheeler had the most difficult time tonight pitching 1.1 innings, and allowing 3-hits and the lone run on a Grady Sizemore RBI single in the 8th inning.
But the true fireworks did not start until the 7th inning when Indians’ reliever Rafael Betancourt came on pitch. Betancourt started by striking out Upton and issuing a walk to Pena before Longoria came up to bat.
Betancourt threw a curveball outside that Longoria took a cut at and deposited just foul of the leftfield foulpole, he then threw a low slider that missed the strike zone. Longoria then was sitting on another curveball that was inside and hit it harder and farther than his last foul ball just off the post again. LOngoria then fouled off two more balls before Betancourt threw another fastball outside for a 2-2 count. Longoria deposited the next haning fastball into the leftfield stand just right of the foulpole for his 22nd homer of the season.
That gives Longoria the new rookie record for homers in a season. Ironically, the previous recordholder, Jonny Gomes had just been optioned to the Durham Bulls before the game and did not see the historic shot. Longoria is currently leading the Rays and all MLB rookies in homers this season. He is also the leader with 51 extra base hits, and has a .349 on-base percentage. His homer put the Rays up 6-3.
But that was not the end of the excitement in the inning. After Eric Hinske struck out, Cliff Floyd came up and hit the 4th pitch he saw for his 8th homer. During this homestand, Floyd is currently 4-8 on this homestand. But the Rays were not done yet.
After the Indians replaced Betancourt with Juan Ricon, the next batter, Navarro deposited his 5th homer of the season into the rightfield stands. The solo homer ended the Rays scoring for the night, but not before Navarro ended his 0-14 hitting streak with a 2-3 night with 3 RBI’s.
The victory give the Rays 67 wins on the season, 3 short of the franchise all time win record. Tonight;s Rays win also equaled last years record for wins (67-95). The Rays currently have the 2nd best record in baseball bettered by only the LA Angels (70-42). This is also the earliest the Rays have ever reached the 67 win plateau. The previous record was in game 156, on September 29th, 2004
The Rays 44 home wins are the most wins in the majors this year, but puts them currently second for the best home record in the majors this season. The Chicago Cubs ( 42-16 , .724 ) owe the record right now by percentage points over the Rays ( 44-17 , .721 ).
The Rays have currently hosted 1,316,159 million fans this season, a 30 percent increase over last season. The increase is the biggest jump in attendance in the majors this season.