Rays Home to Series Win over Jays
Before the contest last night, the members of the Rays/Pepsi Wall of Fame met for a pre-game meal up in the leftfield conference room at the Trop. It was a very informal get together so that we can chat amongst ourselves ans catch up with each other before the game. It was a great event for this small group of extreme fans to just sit, eat and glow about the 2008 Rays squad.
Members from the first years’ class of inductees to the crop of newbies for 2008 mingled and raved about the food and the gifts bestowed on us by the Rays. I do have to say that the Rays have been extremely supportive and responsive to the fan’s needs in the last two years. It is a welcome sight from when the fan hosts and other Rays personnel used to just be a little less humanitarian and civil to the fan base.
Among the conversations were the play of B J Upton recently and the pricing of the post season ticket packages. I heard a few voices opinions that they will not be able to afford the playoff packages and felt terrible they could not support the team fully right now in their drive for a playoff berth. A few even wished the Rays would push back the date needed for the deposits and full payments so they could build their nest egg to purchase these packages.
It would be a true crime to not have every member of this impressive group there for the playoff contests. But in the economic times that we have, sometimes people have to make a choice in their own financial endeavors. With that in mind, please remember that your post season purchase deadline for Season Ticketholders is Sept 12th. Failure to secure a ticket package by this date will be a forfeiture of the reduced rate and the guarantee of your seats for the playoff games.
When Toronto’s Joe Inglett hit a 1-1- pitch to leftfield that was dipping and moving away from the playing field as it flew down the foul line. Eric Hinske came out of nowhere and leaped to his right and caught the ball in mid flight to secure the first out of the 1st inning for the Rays.
The play was remarkable to see, and was voted as the 4th best Web Gem on “ESPN’s Baseball Tonight” for Thursday night. Hinske has been impressive both on the field and at the plate in the absence of Carl Crawford in his susal leftfield position. Hopefully the Rays; will reward Hinske for his efforts and give him a nice chunk of change in the off season to remain with the team.
B J Upton stole his 38th base in the 5th inning after singling to center field. Upton took off on the third pitch to Carlos Pena and arrived before the throw from Jay’s catcher Rod Barajas. Upton was then picked off before the Jay’s Jesse Litsch threw another pitch to Pena. Upton was casually moving off second base and did not see Litsch pivot in time to get back to second to prevent the tag for the third out in the inning.
Upton’s 38th stolen base currently has him ranked third in the Al, 3 behind current leader Jacobs Ellsbury of the Red Sox. Upton’s 14th caught stealing play of the year has him still on top of the list for the major leagues this season. Upton currently has been caught 3 more times than his nearest AL competitor, the Angels Chone Figgans.
Willy Aybar has been a great force at the plate and in manning third since the injury to Evan Longoria. Aybar again provided offensive support for the Rays with his 8th homer of the year to deep right centerfield stands. His solo shot in the 6th inning proved to be the game winner for the Rays.
Aybar is batting .277, with 4 homers and 11 RBIs and 5 walks since taking over for Longoria on August 8th in Seattle.
Edwin Jackson was rewarded for his great control and firm pitching tonight with his 11th win of the year. Jackson threw 106 pitches over 7 innings and gave the Rays Bullpen a much needed breather tonight.
Tonight was also Jackson’s 100th career appearance in a game. Jackson has now won a career-high 11 game this season. His previous high was 5 set in 2007. Jackson has also won 5 of his last 6 starts and seems to be peaking this year at the right point for the Rays. His only loss over those 6 starts was in Texas where he only allowed 1 run on a Ian Kinsler homer in the first inning. In that period, he has a 2.63 ERA over 34.2 innings.
Cliff Floyd also hit a monster solo homer in the 3rd inning last night that travels well over 400 feet to within a few feet of the Rays tank in right centerfield. Floyd has been on a bit of an offensive tear lately hitting .311 in the last 14 games, and is currently the second best hitter ( .341 ) to ever play at the Trop trailing only former Yankee Bernie Williams ( .374 ).
The Rays other run was scored in the after Akinora Iwamura lead off the game with a double to deep center. Upton then hit a single to left to move Aki into scoring position at third base. Cliff Floyd then came up and hit a high sacrifice fly to center that score Iwamura and put the Rays up 1-0.
The Rays finally gave up the shutout in the 8th inning as Alex Rios lead off the innning with a ground rule double that bounced over the centerfield wall before Upton could catch up to it. Jackson then was relieved by Chad Bradford then got Vernon Wells to ground out to Bartlett who threw to first to get the first out of the inning and put Rios at third.
Adam Lind then got an infield single to second to score Rios and put the Jays on the board 3-1. Trever Miller was the brought in to face Lyle Overbay and got him to strike out for the second out of the inning. Grant Balfour then relieved Miller and gave up a RBI double to Rod Barajas, who scored Lind on the play to put the Jays within one 3-2. Jose Bautista, who is 0-11 since coming up for the Jays, then struck out to end the 8th inning.
Congrats to the Rays for having next Weds. game against the Yanbkees picked up by ESPN as their primary broadcast game of the night. Thiss marks the 9th nationally televised contest for the Rays this season. It is by far a franchise high mark for the team.
Dan Wheeler then came on and pitched an inspired 9th inning for the Rays. Wheeler got the Jays out on 12 pitches to earn his 10th save of the year. Wheeler struck out the first two Jays batters before Barajas hit a liner to Aki to end the game. It also secured the Rays 29th series win, which is tops in the majors this year.