Zorbrist Key to Ray’s Victory
There is a swirling Internet rumor that someon ein the AL East put in a claim for Seattle leftfielder Raul Ibanez. Now we all know that the claiming party has 47 1/2 hours to complete the trade, or the Mariners’ can take him off the board. It would be a blessing if the Rays did get into that scenario, but I believe someone below us in the standing has gotten the outfielder before we could claim him.
The way the Waiver wire claim list goes is from least winning/playoff bound team from the same league, to the top dogs in the league. The Rays are currently the second top dog and everyone else in baseball would get a shot at Ibanez in the AL before the Rays even get to sniff daylight.
My personal opinion is that the Toronto Blue Jays, who were kicking the tires on Ibanez in the wee hours of the Trade Deadline might have finally gotten their guy. But the Jays have to submit a trade request which will probably have to contain at least two top prospects, to counter the two picks they will recieve as compensation if Ibanez walks away after this season.
Seattle’s new GM might be young, but he was not born yesterday, so the Jays will have to make it almost a “no-brainer” type of offer, or the Mariners’ might just take Ibanez off waivers and take their chances with their two Compensation picks in next years’ draft.
This is the time of year that a GM can make or break his name in the upcoming Winter discussions for players or for trades. A great move or shrewd business deal right now can set the parameters for future discussions. It will show either a willingness to deal, or a subborn syreak to hold onto prospects and MLB ready guys who are stuck at the Triple-A level.
Hopefully the Rays did get a surprise and Ibanez fell into their laps, but Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman would not be that kind to Andrew Friedman. Now, if we were below those two teams, we could have snapped him up wihout incident. Oh, how the winning ways can be a crime sometimes…………..or we might have stolen a prize without a fight.
This season, the Rays are finally seeing what Ben Zorbrist can do at this level. As Rays analyst, Brian Anderson quoted during the game last night, ” Zorbrist is hitting like he has had enough of Durham.”
I actually love that quote. It shows the changes and the maturity of Zorbrist as a player and as a hitter for the Rays. Zorbrist is fast becoming a hitting factor for the Rays. And with Jason Bartlett about to come back to his position at shortstop, Zorbrist has to give the Rays reasons to keep him up here, and not deposit him back to Durham until the Sept 1st expanded roster call-ups.
Zorbrist did all he could to cement his image in Rays Manager Joe Maddon mind by going 1-4, with a RBI producing double down the rightfield line to put the Rays up 3-2 last night. Zorbrist hit a blistering shot past A’s rookie third baseman, Cliff Pennington to score pince-runner Justin Ruggiano and complete the scoring for the Rays.
In the 4th inning, Zorbrist hit another hard shot towards rightfield, but A’s second basebman Marc Ellis jumped high to snare the ball and prevent a Rays rally. His 5 homers this season have all come in the last 24 games for the Rays. With a roster decision coming concerning Bartlett, you have to hope the Rays will give Zorbrist more time to hit and play the infield and even the outfield in the coming weeks for the Rays.
Andy Sonnanstrine became the fastest Rays pitcher in history to reach his 12 win last night. Sonnanstine pitched 6 innings of 6-hit, 2-run ball last night and struck out 6 A’s batters in the contest.
Andy started the game by getting in a little trouble, but was bailed out by a great 3-6-3 double play to end the 1st inning. In the 3rd inning, Sonnanstine gave up a single to A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki that was barely missed by Zorbrist up the middle.
Suzuki moved into scoring position after Sonnanstine threw a Wild Pitch. Marc Ellis hit a single into leftfield that Eric Hinske fielded and quickly threw to Willy Aybar. Suzuki was heading for home and Aybar threw a strike to Dioner Navarro that got Suzuki in time and stopped the A’s rally.
In the 5th inning, the A’s scored their only runs of the ballgame . Bobby Crosby lead off the inning withdouble that 1-hopped off the leftfield wall that came down within a foot of the foul line. Jack Hannahan then hit a looper into center that fell in front of a charging B J Upton, and Crosby moved to third on the play.
Sonnanstine then walked Suzuki on 5 pitches to load the bases for the A’s. Eric Patterson then came up and put a ball down the first baseline, just out of the reach of a diving Carlos Pena. Hannahan scored and the A’s tied the game 2-2. A 5-4-3 double play got the Rays out of the inning.
Carlos Pena is beginning to warm up at the plate, and that could mean some trouble for starting pitcher the rest of this season. Pena took a rolling backdoor cutter from A’s starter Justin Duchsherer and deposited it in section 146 up about 20 rows for an early 1-0 Rays lead.
The shot was Pena’s 22nd homer of the season, which teid him with Evan Longoria for the team lead. In his last 7 games, Carlos is 10-29, with a .345 average, * RBI’d and 3 homers. He now has a season high average of .243 for the Rays. Pena also has 7 homers in the last 18 games, and has hit 11 since July 4th.
Eric Hinske also added a shot of his own in the 2nd inning on a fastball over the plate. The homer was Hinske’s 17th of the season and upped his RBI total for the season to 50 RBI’s. Hinske also has a pair of 3-hit games in his last 2 starts.
Last night Hinske went 3-3, with 1 RBI and 1 run scored for the squad. His last start on Sunday, Hinske went 3-5 with 3 runs scored. His 17 homers are the most in his career since he hit 24 as a rookie for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Even with their troubles on the left side of the infield with injuries, the Rays again came up big and got two double plays that helped out Sonnanstines pitching performance. Aybar completed a nice around the horn (5-4-3) double play to end the 5th inning threat.
On a somber note, Dave Price, the Rays 2007 first round pick is no longer undefeated as a professional. Price started Wed night’s game for the Durham Bulls and went 4 innings and allowed 3 runs on 7 hits in a losing effort. Price did get 6 strikeouts of the Tide’s batters.
The Bulls nearly came back after scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but they could not push across the tying run in the ninth and took a 7-6 loss.
Price went 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Montgomery. The left-hander pitched 57 innings for the Biscuits and walked just 16 while striking out 55. Prior to joining Montgomery, Price went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts at Class A Vero Beach.
This will be a big test for Price to see how he rebounds after this outing and loss. Just like in the movie “Bull Durham”, can Price pull off a “Nuke” LaLoosh and impress the Rays’ upper management with his next start. Speculation is that Price will be in a Rays uniform by Sept. 1st, and could be used in a variety of situations.
I want to take a few moments to thank a few people. This is my 75th blog entry on MLBlogs.com. I began to write on this site due to the support of people with the Rays organization. Darcy Raymond, Director of Fan Experience told me it might be a great expereience to write on this site, not just for future considerations by a larger publication, but to let Ray fan;s know we have a voice in the MLB.
I also want to thank Brian Killingsworth, Marketing guru with the Rays and Rays radio voice Rich Hererra for their comments and support in trying to help Rays-nation in any way possible.
Rich, you are truly right to comment that this will be a “Magical Summer”. It is almost over, but I could not have thought this possible without the positive comments and critique voiced by you on the Rays Radio Network. We are very lucky to have you with us during this adventure.