Rays lose Shootout at Trop
With the Boston Red Sox idle last night with a odd day off before they start their 3 game set against the Toronto Blue Jays, it was a shame we lost 1/2 game to them as they say in a sports bar eating their dinners. This is the type of game that will have you pulling the hair out of your head in the next 10 days. It was a game that we usually win, but let slip away last night. Not that I am blaming anyone, it is just that karma has been kind to use this year in games like this. Hopefully we have not used up our quota for the year.
Be sure to register on www.raysbaseball.com for the Rays post season lottery for single game tickets for the post season. The team will be ataking names and emails until Sunday to be considered for the lottery for playoff tickets. I know I registered for the lottery because I could not bankroll my playoff tickets fast enough through my season ticketholder account. I will be there by hook or by crook we all know that. I will not miss a playoff game after hitting the Trop for 81 games for 11 years and not see the first and last pitch of our first post season game.
Winners of the lottery will be contacted by phone and by email probaby before the tickets are offically announced as early as next Tuesday. With the Rays within 3 games of securing the post season Wild Card as a alternative to winning their division, the Rays might get the lead out and post ticket prices and requests to insure a sellout for the first game.
Rays Magical Number 3
With a little help tonight, the Rays could win a playoff berth tonight with a loss by the Blue Jays, White Sox and Yankees coupled with a Rays win over the Twins.
Usually when you hit 3 home runs in a ballgame you can almost count on winning that contest. Not since July 5th, 2003 when Jonny Gomes hit 3 against the Kansas City Royals has a Rays player popped 3 out in a single game. Evan must have been saving up all that energy while he was on the DL just for tonight. All three blasts were into leftfield and were beyond the 15th row back.
For the game, Longoria was 3-5, with 3 runs scored and 4 RBI’s on the night. Longoria’s hitting also has his average, now at .288 slowly heading up toward the .300 mark. Longoria, now with 25 homers, leads the major leagues in homers for a rookie. Longoria is also first for rookies in exta base hits (55), and took over the RBI lead with his 78th RBI last night.
Wheeler has been Mr. Consistency for the Rays this season. That is why last night’s debacle is so out of character for the reliever, He is the leading Rays in appearances this season, going to the mound 66 times for the Rays. Coming into this outing, opponents were hitting .175 against him, which was good for 8th in the league. And his 26 holds are just 3 shy of the league lead right now.
But in the 9th inning last night, with the Rays 8-6, Wheeler had his worst night of the season. Wheeler threw only 15 pitches in the inning, but gave up 3-hits and 4-runs in 0.0 innings of work. Denard Span started the bleeding by reaching on a infield single to Jason Bartlett. Then Alexi Casilla homered on the first pitch he saw to tie the game for the Twins.
Joe Mauer then hit a long fly ball into deep centerfield that was misplayed by Fernando Perez and led to a double. That put the Twins winning run in scoring position with no outs in the inning. The Rays then intentionally walked Justin Morneau to pitch to Adam Everett. He then hit the 4th ball he saw to the deep left centerfield gap to score Mauer and move Morneau to third with still no outs in the game.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon then brought on Chad Bradford to pitch to Delmon Young and Young hit a single to right to score Morneau and put the Twins up 10-8. Matt Tolbert then hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring in everett and score the last Twins run of the game.
Rays starter James Shields was making his first attempt at trying to tie the Rays pitching record with his 14 win this season. Shileds was not sharp early in the contest, but pitched effectively over his 6.1 innings of work. Shields gave up 6-runs on 8-hits and tossed 90 pitches in the contest. He left the game with the Rays in front 8-6 and was in line for the win tonight.
Shields was starting his 31st game of the season, which matched his career high set last season. Shields had also become the only Rays pitcher to pass the 200 plus inning mark twice in his career. He held the AL mark for home ERA coming into the game at 2.34, and has one 7 of his 9 home starts this year.
Not to outshadowed by Longoria, Pena hit his 30th homer of the season last night in the 4th inning off Phillip Humber. His 30th homer puts Pena in 10th place this season in the AL. Pena now has 92 RBI’s, which puts him in 29th place in the AL. Considering the amount of time Pena missed due to his injury this season, it is remarkable to be in this top tier in the AL.
Since the All-Star break, Pena is hitting .260, with 16 home runs and 45 RBI’s. He is also posting a .563 slugging percentage for the Rays. He also has 24 walks in the last 20 games. His 30 home runs leads all first baseman in the American League. This season, Pena has also fanned a career high 153 times, 2nd in the AL.
Dioner Navarro also picked up an RBI last night with his homer to left to score Rocco Baldelli and put the Rays up 4-3. It was the second night in a row that the Rays had back-to-back homers in a game. Longoria hit his first of three homers right before Navarro. It was Navarro’s 7th homer of the year.
Navarro’s .290 average is second only to the Twins Joe Mauer among AL catchers this season. Navarro also gunned down Delmon Young in the 9th inning putting the ball right on the glove for Bartlett to tag out Young at second base. Navarro is currently ranked 3rd in the majors with a 34.4 percent caught stealing rate.
Gabe Gross also got an RBI last night on a single to left center in the 1st inning, scoring Ben Zobrist on the play. His hit chased Twins starter Glen Perkins from the game. Gross is now hitting .315 over his last 23 games, and he hit .293 for the month of August for the Rays.