Catcher Ends Pitchers’ Duel
Where is the love ESPN? You have Josh Beckett as one of your 3 top performers from last night on the top of the boxscore page, but no Andy Sonnastine love in the house. You have got to be kidding me here guys. This kid as been “money” as Vince Vaugh stated in the movie “Swingers.” He has done everything asked of him this year by the Rays, and have shut the Boston Red Sox machine twice in his last 2 starts.
That is right, Sonnanstine has been a thorn in the side of the Red Sox for twice this week. He has his first start of the year against Bosotn last Wed. night, also against Beckett where he allowed 1 Unearned run in the game. Sonnastine only surrendered 4 baserunners in 7 innings of work. Beckett and Andy both left the game tied 1-1.
7 innings after he left the mound, the Rays finally ended this 5 plus hour marathon on a Carlos Pena blast over the beloved Green Monster to seal their first winning series in Boston this year. And he gets no love from ESPN, the leader in sports. So that proves that there is still comedy on ESPN.
Today is the Day that all MLB teams can release their 2009 schedules to the public. I am not sure if the Rays will wait until maybe Thursday during their Fandemodium celebration, or just let it leak out through the channels of the media. But let’s hope we see some Mets, or maybe a few Braves games on the 2009 game list.
I was questioned by a Boston fan last night as to why all of a sudden we are the cowbell capital of the world. Well, I told him in no uncertain terms that it was a device brought to the Trop. to drown out and be a vocal/ musical harrassment to their chants and noise. I also made sure he knew that the Red Sox were not the only group to feel the cowbell wrath. That the team from the Bronx also got a few doses of it every night in the Trop., and that it is a habit and well beloved symbol of the new regime in the A L East. If you to blame anyone for the cowbells, blame Christopher Walken, if not for that glorious Saturday Night Live skit, we might be still sitting on our collective hands.
Rays Magic Number : 12
This is the combination of Rays win and Boston losses needed to secure our first AL East pennant.
Our Rays catching corps would not be the same with Dioner Navarro. He has improved by leaps and bounds both at and behind the plate for the Rays this season. His All-Star nod was a great example of the AL acceptance of this great players as a future and current star of the game.
But his throw last night to get the Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury was a thing of beauty. The ball was thrown right to the foot of Ellbury, and Akinora Iwamura only had to put it in his glove to secure the tag. Perfect throw at the perfect moment to stop a Red Sox threat in the 8th inning. Navarro has thrown out 33.3 percent of the baserunners this year, to rank 2nd in the AL, and 3rd in the majors this season. Of the MLB catcher, who have caught at least 100 games,only Kelly Shoppach ( 35) of the Cleveland Indians has less stolen bases against him than Navarro (42) this year.
Not to be outdone was his walk-off single with the bases loaded into deep centerfield with the outfield shallow to prevent the runner on third from scoring on a fly out. Navarro hit the ball so hard it took a one-hop bounce over the centerfield wall. All Coco Crisp could do was watch the ball fly high over his head and put his head down in disgust after the play.
It was classic Rays walk-off material in that Navarro has been one of the unsung heroes at the plate this season for the Rays. After the team celebrated with Navarro at second base, he quickly found Rays Hitting Coach Steve “Hendo” Henderson and planted a huge hug on the guy responsible for his new offensive numbers. Henderson worked dilligently with Navarro during the second half of last season to improve his stroke and compact his swing a bit for the Rays. On a night like tonight, it played huge dividends for the team.
A classic shaving cream pie was delivered by B J Upton during Navarro’s on-scene interview with Rich Herrera after the game. Upton caught Navvaro totally unaware of his sneaking up and planting a huge shaving cream pie on him during the interview.
You can’t harp on a team not hitting in a pitchers’ duel. You have to accept that the team is taking their hacks and trying to get on base as mush as possible to win the ballgame. But you got to admit, that both theses pitchers were on their game last night. Beckett held the Rays to 3 total hits, and posted 7 strikeouts on the night.
The top of the Rays order, of Akinora Iwamura, Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena got needed hits in the ballgame. Cliff Floyd and Dioner Navarro rounded out the other Rays who got on base with hits against Beckett. But then again, we left 6 guys on base in this contest. Just one little tweaker up the middle, or a long hopper into the gaps and this game would have been settled aerlier in the game.
Andy was making his 5th attempt at trying to win number 14 tonight. He has been in a state of suspended animation for about two weeks trying to get that elusive win under his belt. Considering that James Shields is also at 13, he might be the first to hit that plateau this season for the Rays. But you got to admit, just based on his last 2 starts, Sonnanstine deserves that first 14 win placement. This is the guy that in the beginning of the season so many people were wondering if he could make it in the majors, or if he was ready for the big show.
I think the questions have been answered now, and should not come up again for a long time. Last night’s start was also the 30th of the season for Sonnanstine. His 13 wins are second only to Tuesday nights starter Diasuke Matasuzaka for second year pitchers. His current .650 winning percentage is the best in the Rays history with a minimum of 15 decisions. The Rays have gond 13-6 in his last 19 starts. And he is now 4-1 this season against the American League East teams.
Our Small Group of Fans
I am going to address this to the very small segment of our fans who are becoming the one thing we despise about the Boston and New York rowdies. They are constantly badgering and egging on the opposing fans to produce behavior that is more fitting to a dark, seedy bar than in a baseball stadium. I am a bit upset with the bogus taunts and swearing between the masses of fans at the game recently.
I am of the school that you, “act like you have been there before.” In that, I am speaking that you act with class and keep the BS to a minimum concering the fighting and hassles within the stands. I know that their fans can be as obnoxious as a can of limburger cheese, but we do not have to rise, or fall to that level to be a winning team. Let our team do the damage on the field, and not to each other in the stands.
I am the first person to rise up in a incident, and I also do not back down to anyone, but you have to pick your battles. And if it is to take some swipes at a Red Sox or Yankees fan and miss the game………you are on your own. Fighting only get two thing done………you ejected from the stadium for good, and give them a sense that they won by getting you out of your element. So be smart and enjoy the game, the entire game and let the teams on the field do the battling.
You got to admit that it looked great watching Ellsbury look up at the ball as it landed only a row beyond the fence last night in the game. The people in Section 143 were going bonkers, and the fans were on their feet for the blast. The opposite field shot by Pena was his 29th homer of the season and gave the Rays a tie with the Red Sox 1-1. No one was more happy than Pena as he slapped his hands together as he ran between first and second to silence the Boston fans in the stands.
This was Pena’s second balst against the Red Sox in 7 days, and that one also put the Red Sox in line for the loss. Pena is also doing it on the bases with his 22 walks over the last 18 games, and he is currently 5th in the Al with 85 for the year. He also has leads the majors this year with 7 bases-loaded walks. His 29 homers as a first baseman is the best in the AL this season.
Tonight is the last game between these two giants during the regular season. This contest will decide where the two teams stand before embarking on their last 11 days of the 2008 season. The Rays will send hard-throwing Matt Garza to the hill. Garza will be seeking his 13 win on 3 days rest and is a rematch against Red Sox Tim Wakefield. Both pitchers started the contest on July 1,but Garza got the decision on a 3-1 Rays win.
Against Boston in his career, Garza is 3-1, with a 3.54 ERA in 5 starts. For 2008, Garza is 1-1, with a 4.15 ERA. In his only loss of the season against Boston this year, Garza pitched 5.1 innings of 7-run, 6-hit ball and yielded homers to J D Drew and Mike Lowell.