Yankees Use Long Ball to Beat Rays
I was chatting with a friend today online and he stated that the Rays might be folding like a cheap deck of cards right now becuase of the young pitching staff and a failure to drive in our guys in scoring position. Both points have a huge amount of merit there. The Rays hit a combined .124 with runners in scoring position in this recent roadtrip. And the young starters did falter in a few areas during their games. But with the also apparent upside of this team still having the best home record in baseball, and the fact that the players trive in fron tof over 25,000 fans, you know the next 7 games will be the total accumylation of this season for the team.
I hate to bunch the next seven as the “biggest, most important home stand in the team history.” We already know that is the fatcs, and the reality is that if the fan base doesn’t come out and stack themselves to the rafters, it sets a huge set of cards into motion. If the owners finally put up a competitive team and people did not come out, who is to blame? Larry Rothchild? If the Rays make the playoffs, major league baseball takes over the daily stadium operations. And you know the Trop will be sold out even if they have to find a busload of people to sit in those high seats in the 300 areas.
This last week is the week that the bay area needs to show its support or its want for baseball in this area. It is about civic pride right now more than anything. For about a month or so, the talking heads of the broadcast monopoly have stressed that the Rays are still not drawing fans to the stadium. But I also see a bulk of that footage showing people wearing green and white Rays gear. So maybe they are showing vintage 2007 footage, but then again, some night it is still a graveyard at the Trop.
But, in the last two home series we have also had a few teams in that do not bode well for traveling fan bases. Toronto is not a hot bed of traveling fans to their away games. And the New York fans have stayed home to relax in their lazyboys and watch the game on TV rather than fight the increasing Rays fanbase hassle. No longer is this the Fenway-South, or Little Bronx. It is Tropicana Field, where the Rays play and other come to lose.
Everyone knows that I am a huge Jackson fan. And that I am a true believer in his increasing education as a pitcher for the Rays. So it is a big thing when I come out and stress the importance of a win in his next start or give the start to another pitcher. The time is too severe for us to use this opportunity to hope for victory, but know it is within our grasp.
With that in mind, it is disheartening to see that he only lasted 53 pitches and 2 innings today against the Yankees. I could see in the beginning that home plate umpire Gerry Davis was squeezing his strikezone to tight it was screaming out in horror. But Jackson did to respond in the right manner. He did not adjust quick enough to set the ball in the right direction, instead he left a few pitches over the plate and his day was drastically changed from that point on.
Edwin did give up two monster homers that not only cost the Rays a chance at the win, but might have put doubt into his next start for the Rays. With David Price and Mitch Talbot, and Jeff Niemann sitting on the bench, do you use your Triple-A studs to get you that win, or rely on Edwin to rebound and put together a few innings before leaving. Jackson has gone 0-3 in his last 3 starts. He has also even his record at 11-11 for the season.
The decision is in hand by the Rays manger, Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach, Jim Hickey. I know they still have a load of respect and admiration for the work he has done to improve this year. But do you pull the plug when you have so much riding on the next 14 days?
I want to take a moment to thank Jerry Crasnick for his awesome article on the Rays. It was a great read, and if you are a true Rays fan, you need to red this article. I am glad people at ESPN like yourself and Peter Gammons are coming out to the Rays defense. I remember a few years ago when Peter was here for the FanFest and he was glowing about the future of this franchsie. He has since been a closet supporter of the good going on here, but has never doubted the Rays this year. Hopefully you can talk some sense into those mutton-heads on Baseball Tonight to see this for what it is………..great baseball played by a team of confident young players wanting to wi every night.
How can you measure how much this Ivy league educated guy has been on the bases and at the plate for the Rays this September. Perez came to the plate in the 2nd inning and slammed his first major league homer run to the rightfield stands and put the Rays back into this game 4-3 at the moment. Considering this guy has been tooling around learning to hit more as a leftie this year at Triple-A is amazing. Considering that he is doing everything possible for this team to take a deeper and more intense look at him next spring is the basis of what the future Rays will be…………hustle, speed andetermination.
There was an episode in the 2nd inning, right before Perez’s shot that might have made that game more intense and stressful for everyone had Cliff Floyd not gone over and quelled the anger right away. He did what Shelly Duncan did not do, he went over and got with Robinson Cano after accidently smacking him in the side of the head on his slide attempt on Sunday. He made sure that Cano knew it was an accidental move and not a premeditated thing that could have festered into an on-field altercation. But then again, that is the class that Floyd shows every night on the diamond.
Has there been another pitcher in the last few years for the Rays that has gotten the kind of press and accolades that David Price has gotten for the Rays. Price was selected at the Minor League Player of the Year last week and is celebrating it a the major league level with the Rays. Price got to the stadium on Saturday and did not know in what measures the Rays would use him this month.
But since Jackson could not complete his game on Sunday, Price was put into the game as a long reliever to try and hold the Yankees offense to a minimum so the Rays could mount a comeback. Price came in an immediately got the Yankees attention by sending down the batter in order in the 3rd and 4th innings. For his 5.3 inning, Price recorded 4 strikeouts.
But Price is also going to be a footnote in the career bio for Derek Jeter. Price put a slow slider off the plate that Jeter hit into the rightfield bleachers for his 12,69th hit in Yankee Stadium. That hit put him into a tie with the Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig for the Yankee All-Time hit Lead at the stadium. After that little hiccup, he put the Yankees down in order in the inning.
Again the issue of getting hits with runners in scoring position came out to bite the Rays today. In the 6th inning, Perez came up for the thrid time in the game with at least 2 men on base. He did walk in that inning,but Jasob Bartlett following him hit a strong dipping liner that was caught for the 3rd out of the inning. The Rays left 10 men on base in the game, and 5 times left men in scoring position with 2 outs.
After the 6th inning in todays’ game, the Rays only mounted one serious attack on the Yankees to try and win this contest. In the 7th inning, Willy aybar hit a single with 2 outs to try and put pressure on the Yankees’ bullpen. But he was left stranded on first after a long ball hit by Dioner Navarro to centerfield for the last out. In the 8th inning, the Rays went down in order, with the last two outs being long fly balls into centerfield.
In the 9th inning, Akinora Iwamura started the inning by walking on 7 pitches, before Jason Bartlett hit a fly out to right and Carlos Pena struck out for the third time today. With 2 outs, Evan Longoria hit a single up the middle and gave the Rays a chance in the inning. But Aybar struck out to end the game and the Rays chances to come back home more than a single game up over the Boston Red Sox.
Cliff Floyd,Part Deux
Cliff Floyd had a great day at the plate for the Rays. Floyd went 2-3, with 2 doubles to set the pace for the Rays. Floyd has been leading by example on this roadtrip and has begun to set the bar high for his fellow Rays batters. Considering Floyd has been in these September pennant fever runs before can only be benefical to the Rayd down the stretch. All the young Rays have to do is listen and learn from Big Cliff and the team will come out fine in the long run.
I have to make a comment here. What was Carlos Pena thinking when he went over for a pop-up in front of the mound and smack the ball out of Longoria’s glove for a sure out. I have to give kudos to David Price for getting away from the situation and letting his infielders’ have a crack at it, but Longoria clearly had the rights and the ball before it was dislodged out of his mitt by his collision with Pena.
The third baseman should have the right to catch a ball hit to his side of the mound. But some peole say that Price needs to play traffic cop and tell someone to take the ball. either way, it was an embarrassing play ans one that went for a double for Cody Ransom. Pena was given an eror on the play, only his 2nd error of the year