Rays Post 70th Win in Seattle

 

Rays 8, Mariners 7

 

 

Seattle fans have a special place in their hearts for the Tampa Bay Rays. If it was not for this upstart community. the Seattle area might not have professional baseball right now.  Back in the mid 1990’s the city was at odds as to what to do with their crumbling Kingdome, and the team did not have a great following at the box office.

The team needed a miracle. That miracle came in the form of a Baseball Ownership Group, based out of St. Petersburg, Florida that wanted to purchase the Mariners’ and move them to a new domed stadium in the hot Florida sun. The team got as far as make an offer and had the intial aggreement to purchase the team, until Major League Baseball stepped in and gave the Seattle area a chance to save their team.

As we all know, the Team got a backing and financial offering from the video game giant Nintendo that gave them both security, and business foundations for the first time in franchse history. What Nintendo wanted now was a new stadium to showcase their new club, and a way to get renewed vigor and excitement over the squad. A improvable playoff run, and a really energetic squad led by a young A-Rod and amazing young talen Ken Griffey Junior, helped propell the city and it’s citziens to vote for a new facility.

In 1999, a new 656 million dollar stadium opened with improvements like a roof that would transform the playing field into a waterproof enviorment in Seattle’s unexpected climate. The roof was a 3-section humongous steel section that when opened and closed would play Richard Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries”. This song was made famous in the film, “Apocalyse Now”.

The stadium also features a baseball in motion sculputre as you enter the building in the foyer area. The amazing sculpture starts with a backswing and revolves like a chandelier until it reaches the top point of a batters’ swing. Also amazing is the leftfield viewing station that gives you a breathtaking panorama of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound.

Outside the stadium is a garage door feature that has  full body profile paintings of all the Mariner’s regulars either at the plate, or up to bat at the plate. The Press Box area uses garage doors to open to the elements and not the conventional glass windows or opening. Among the wild items throughout the stadium is the compass set in the floor of the front enterance that has the signatures of the original team to play their first game in this fantastic ballpark.

Hidden behind the stadium seats is the world class Diamond Club. The Diamond club looks like a 5-star restaurant with beautiful gold gilding and very impressive photos littering the walls. Photos like Babe Ruth as a pitcher for the Red Sox. A Honus Wagner photo, A photo of both Ruth and Lou Gherig on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. What is so unique about that photo, is it is the only photo of the two Yankee stars outside of the stadium in each other’s company.

As you can tell, it is my favorite stadium in the US. I enjoy the fact of hearing the train whistles as they sneak under the east end of the stadium, or the taste of the sushi or local veggie offerings from the snakc bars. The Seattle area is a complex mix of all that is good, and their stadium incorporates it in pure excellience.

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The Matt Garza that so many of us have seen this season did not show up early in the contest against the Seattle Mariners’. Seattle took advantage of Garza’s off night by scoring 5 runs on him in the first 2 innings.  Garza, who had been 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA did not look sharp and seemed out of sorts on the mound early.

 

 

In the 1st inning, Garza  gave up a lead-off homer to Ichiro Suzuki to put the Rays in an early hole 1-0. Against the Mariners lifetime, Garza was 1-1, with a 9.70 ERA in 4 starts. Tonight, Garza posted  5 runs on 7 hits in just the first two innings. For the night, Garza went 5.2 innings and gave up 10 hits, but he also posted 5 strikeouts on the night.

 

 

In the 1st inning, the Rays got a scare from a ball pitched by Seattle starter, Rowland-Smith, that bounced off Carlos Pena’s chin and lip. The ball seemd to glance off Pena’s chin before hitting him squarely in the lips. Pena was okay’ed by the Rays trainer, Ron Porterfield to continue play.

 

Pena was involved in critical situations in the game. In the 5th inning, Pena struck out with the bases loaded.  In the Ray’s big 6th inning, Pena came up and singled to rightfield to score Carl Crawford, but was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double to end the inning.

In the 9th inning, Pena singled to right, but was stranded on third by the Rays.  In the 10th inning, Pena strcuk out looking. In this series, Pena has gone 5-12, with 1 RBI. 

 

 

 

Gabe Gross got an odd start tonight based on his heroic hitting in recent games. Gross responded by hitting a solo homer in the 2nd inning to put up the Rays’ first run of the ball game. Gross played excellient in right, on one play throwing the ball in quick enough to keep Ichiro to a single and preventing a Seattle run by freezing the guy at third base. Gross went 2-6 tonight with 2 runs scored and a RBI.

  

Carl Crawford had the best night of this series by going getting on base 4 times for the Rays. Crawford went 2-4 at the plate with 2 runs scored and  2 RBI’s on the night. Crawford also walked twice tonight to put pressure ..land-Smith.

 

In the 3rd inning, Crawford hit an infield single to third, but was stranded by a Pena strikeout. In the 6th inning, Crawford hit a single to right center that he stretched into a double and barely beat the incoming throw to the bag. Crawford scored on Pena’s double off the rightfield wall to put the Rays up 7-5 in the game.

  

 

Akinora Iwamura went 3-5 tonight leading off the game tonight with a single in the 1st inning. Aki scored 1 run and got 1 RBI during the contest. In the 3rd inning, Aki was involved in one of the missed plays by the umpires in this game.

 

Aki hit a screaming low liner to leftfield that appeared to be caught by Raul Ibanez. On review of the play, Ibanez had trapped the ball and Aki was actually safe on the play. Rays Manager Joe Maddon asked  the umpires about the botched play, but was overruled by the umpires crew chief. 

 

In the  Ray’s huge 6th inning, where they sdcored 6 times, Aki got on base with a single to second baseman Jose Lopez that he could not handle in time to get the speedy Aki. In the 8th inning, Aki singled to center, but was stranded on first by two quick Rays outs.  In the 10th inning, Aki was one of 3 walks issued by J J Putz in the inning and was stranded at thrid by a Pena strikeout and a Eric Hinske liner to shortstop.

 

 

 

In the 10th inning, Joe Maddon took a hunch and played a new defensive scheme with the bases loaded and 1 out in the inning. Maddon pulled B J Upton up to almost the second base bag, and positioned Crawford and Gross towards the centerfield area as the two lone outfielders.

 

The scheme was to induce a ground ball  double play by newly acquired pitcher, Chad Bradford. Coming into the game, Bradford was one of the leagues’ leaders in gorund ball outs.

 

Adrian Beltre was at the plate, and put the ball in play down the third baseline on the ground. Willy Aybar, filling in again for the ailing Evan Longoria, threw the ball to Dioner Navarro to secure the first out, then Navarro threw to Pena to finish the double play and get the Rays out of the inning with the game still tied at 7-7.

  

 

Dioner Navarro was instrumental in the winning run for the Rays in the 11th inning. Ben Zobrist lead off the inning with a walk and stole second base on the next pitch. After a 3-1 play by Aybar, Navarro hit a long ball into centerfield and Zobrist scored on the Sacrifice Fly to put the Rays up 8-7.

 

Troy Percival came on in the 9th inning to secure the win for the Rays. Percival got his 26th save of the season by throwing 14 pitches and getting Bryan LaHair to strike out to end the game. The save came on Percival’s 39th birthday, which should make for an interesting post-game celebration for both Troy and the Rays’.

 

 

 

 

 

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