Rays Use Smallball to Beat Twins 11-1
With their backs against the wall now, you know the Minnesota Twins will come out and play the game of their lives today. And to suspect anything else would insane. Both these team are within a cat’s hair of getting into the postseason. The Twins hang by a thread, while the Rays control their own destiny enroute to their first A L East crown. Both these squada will be energized and ready for war when the first pitch is thrown about 3:55 P.M. today.
But you also know that when this game ends, either the Rays will be one of the 8 teams to get into this crazy playoff race, or they will just regroup and do battle tomorrow with it being another “it” day. But I seriously think that today’s game will be the deciding blow for either team. It is on a national stage, being seen in three markets in the country. One being the Tampa Bay region, second being the Minnesota area, and the third is the city of true revolution, Boston. You heard me right, one of the three cities to get today’s game will be beantown.
Funny how that worked out, but it will give the Boston fand another look at why this team is for real, and to watch their new rival play before the Red Sox take the field tonight in Toronto. It is also another time for the Rays to put doubt and serious karma to work on the Red Sox Nation. I am not asking that it be overthrown, or dismantled, just a little doubt, and a little concern is all I desire here. And maybe a bead of sweat on the long time Red Sox fan about maybe playing this Rays team again in the playoffs.
Rays Magical Number: 9
Combination of Rays wins and Boston losses to secure our first A L East crown.
Okay, you almost had me worried when you bounced a few during warm-ups Edwin, but thank you for one of the clutch pitching performances of this year. Seriously, you hit the right spots and put the pedal to the metal at the moment that not only the Rays, but the crowd needed last night. To say the outing was a success would be an understatement. You could have beaten any team last night with the way your stuff was breaking. And the fatc that your last pitch of the night was clocked at 98 m.p.h. tell me you still love throwing the heat.
Edwin Jackson has finally arrived as a major league pitcher. At a time when he needed a big game for himself and his team he responded with a 7-hit,1-run gem that will be talked about all the way until next Spring. Jackson went 7.2 iinings last night and threw 114 pitches enroute to getting his 12th victory of the year. Jackson also got 5 strikeout on the night for the Rays. Tonight was his 30th start of the season and was coming into the game 0-3 in September. With this win, Jackson is on solid ground to try and have his first winning season since he was 2-1 in 2004.
Instant Replay, Part Deux
Again we got to see the magic that is the MLB Control room in New York go to work on give the multi-viewed video of Carlos Pena’s “maybe” 31st homer. Carlos came up in the bottom of the 4th inning against Boof Bonser and hit a ball high and into the first row of Section 148 in the Trop. Because the fumble fingered fan who tried to catch the ball let it bounce off his digits and back onto the turf, the second base umpire, Gerry Davis, signaled for Fan Interference and put Pena at second base.
After some discussion by all four umpires and some prodding by Rays Manager Joe Maddon, the umpires went into their little cave under the stand beyond the visitor’s dugout to call MLB central command and get the video replays and do some idle chatting. About 5 minutes later, with Pena still standing on second, Gerry Davis came out and signaled homer run and Carlos was finally allowed to finish the home run trot for his 31st homer of the year.
So the Rays again make Instant Replay history with the first reversal of an on-field call last night. That makes twice this year that ESPN has been in the house and we have had replays. We are only 1-1 on replays this year, but the call was right and baseball can be proud that the system is working as it was envisioned. Now if we can just get the Qwest system to taser the unpires on bad strikezone calls…………or is that asking too much?
Pena not only hit a 3-run homer for his 31st of the season, but he also doubled to right in the 1st inning and scored the second run of the game for the Rays. But he also got a bases loaded walk in the 2nd inning that scored Eric Hinske and put the Rays ahead 5-0 at the time. But it was his blast in the 4th inning that shook and triggered the celebration for Tampa Bay. With Eric Hinske and Akinora Iwamura on base via walks in the inning, Pena hit his monster shot to right that had the celebration delayed a few minutes for further review. But after the unpire’s replay review Pena was able to celebrate his 4-RBI night in style with his team.
Gross has gone about his job this year in rightfield without a lot of fanfare. But several times during this game the rightfield faithful cheered and saluted Gross for his contributions in this contest. Gross tipped his cap to the crowd and you could see that smile was a mile long on his face. In this contest Gross went 2-4, with 1 run scored, but set up several Rays runs by advancing the runners in the game.
Here is another guy who just goes about his job with a smile. Aki at one point last night caught a hard liner to second by Jason Kubel for an out and then doubled up Justin Moreneau on the play. All you saw on the video screen was a sheepish grin on Aki’s face as he threw the ball around the infield. In the game, Aki took the second pitch by Twin’s starter, Nick Blackburn and put it into the gap in left centerfield and sprinted around the bases to get his 8th triple of the year.
Aki ended up scoring on Jason Bartlett’s grounder to short to put the Rays up 1-0. For the day, Aki was offically 1-2, but his 2 walks in the contest helped him score 4 runs in the game. In the 2nd inning, the Twins intentionally walked him to get to former Twins’ teammate Bartlett. Aki ended up scoing in the inning on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly to left.
Aki again walked in the 4th and was on base for Pena’s “alleged” blast to right. While the umpires decided the fate of Pen’as ball, Aki was already sitting in the dugout after scoring on the play. In the 6th inning, Aki was safe at first on the first of 2 errors that inning by Twin’s second baseman Alexi Casilla.
On the night, the Rays scored 3 runs in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th inning. They also got 2 runs in the 6th inning to finish the scoring for the night. In the contest, every Rays starter but Dioner Navarro got a hit in the game. But we cane give a mulligan to Navarro since he caught and called that great game by Jackson.
People comment that this team is not a team of superstars. I think that is the reason this team is the way it is this season. There are no huge egos or prima donna complexes on the staff. If someone does develop a complex, the leadership of Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena, along with Troy Percival would squash that problem like a bug. This team is a team that depends on every player to work and sweat for 9 innings. And with that aggression comes a price of securing their first post season berth in th club history.