Rays Come Out Flat in Front of 36,048 Fans
As you might expect from a team on a emotional high and induced with over 252 bottles of champagne, the Rays came out a bit flat on Sunday. Along with the huge amount of bubbly, they extimated to have gone through 24 case of beer and assorted beverages. Now I am not suggesting that the team was still on a bit of a next day fatigue situation, but they did kinda walk with a different swagger on Sunday.
I know I saw a few Rays out on the town having a great time. I viewed Scott Kazmir, B J Upton and Cliff Floyd at the Push nightclub in St. Petersburg having fun and living it up in the VIP area. None of the ball players was beyond the scope of reason, but Kazmir did have a look of euphroia on his face from his prediction coming true for the team. I know of another group that hit a few beach spots on St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Beach, and then called it a night at someone’s home in St. Petersburg, but he asked me to keep this quiet.
I even got a present from a friend on the team and I made sure to get as many signatures as I could on the bottle. This is a special time for the Rays and their fanbase. I know a lot of the community was there Saturday afternoon, even if they did not have a ticket. I have had al least 30 people tell me they were there on Sat. that I know were not at the ballpark. No I did not have facial recognition systems around the stadium to record every face. You can just tell if someone was there by the way they described the celebration and the aftermath in the Brewhouse.
Well, it is Day 1 of post celebration with a mission of 8 more games until the Playoff begin for the Rays. Hopefully we can catch up to the L A Angels ans get the home field advantage throughout the entire playoff system. But then again, we have to win or have Boston lose a total of 7 to win our First pennant for the Trop’s back wall.
Rays Magical Number: 7
Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine probably was home asleep by 10 P.M. on Saturday night. He had the uncanny mission of pitching the first game since the Postseason celebration and probably did not know what kind of Rays team would show up for the contest. Andy pitched 6.2 innings of 7-hit, 4-run ball for the squad. It might not have been his best performance of the year, but his defense also was not up to their usual stingy self. Several errors or near errors kept the Rays in a hole for most of the game.
Sonnanstine came into the game hoping to pick up his 14th victory for the 6th time this season. He was also facing Minnesota for the first time today in his career. Sonnanstine comes into the game not allowing a single earned run in the last 16 innings of work. The Rays have gone 13-7 in his last 20 starts.
Coming into the game, the Rays had the third fewest errors of any team in the major leagues. It is becuase of this tough defense that the Rays have gotten into position to fight fo their first A L East crown. But on Sunday, the Rays defense was to the point of breaking several times in the contest. Rays Rookie Evan Longoria took the blunt of the scorer by being hit with 2 errors in the game, both on throws to first base.
But several times in the game, the Rays did not field the ball cleanly and could have been charged with as many as 3 more errors. Willy Aybar had a bad read and turn and throw to second base to Ben Zobrist that took him off the bag and provided the Twins with a runner in scoring position in the 4th inning.
It was also in the 4th inning where the Twins did all their damage on Sunday to defeat the Rays. Longoria committed his first error in the middle of the inning, and two runs crossed the plate on his throw to Dan Johnson that got away from him and down the line in rightfield.
Rocco Baldelli could have been charged with an error on his throw hom that sailed towards third and hit the Twins dugout railing to remain in play. Ben Zobrist also dropped a few balls in his glove that are normally sure things for him. All in all, the day was not a complete disaster for the Rays, but some defensive miscues did turn the corner for the Twins on their way to the victory.
Rays Rested the Weary
The Rays did not start many of their usual starters in this game today. This was not sitting down because of the celebration, but to give a few guys a day off going into a stretch where the Rays will be playing 8 games in 7 days this week. The upcoming double-header on Tuesday will be a long night for Maddon’s troops, so he decided to rest his starters today before leaving for Baltimore to start their 4-game series with the Orioles on Monday.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon also got some needed innings out of B J Upton and Rocco Baldelli in the field to be sure they are up to the challnge come playoff time. Upton looked fluid in the field and committed a few nicely aimed balls to Dioner Navarro in the game. Upton also got an outfield assist on a shallow fly ball hit to centerfield that Carlos Gomez miss read and was picked off first base for a double play by Upton. It is Upton’s 13th outfield assist of the year. He is currently sitting 3rd in the AL in that category.
B J Upton
The Rays starting centerfielder looked more like his old self at the plate hitting lead-off in the game and went 3-3 on the day, also with a walk. That pushed his average up to .277 for the season. The walk also put Upton in 4th in the AL with 92 for the year. Not bad considering he has been day-to-day now since suffering a quad injury in Boston.
Upton hit a bunt single to the pitcher to lead off the game for the Rays. Upton put it perfectly down the third base side of the mound for an easy single to start the rays off with a baserunner in the game. Upton then came up in the 3rd inning and hit a double down the leftfield line to put Michel Hernadez in scoring position at third for the Rays.
Carlos Pena hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Henandez on the next pitch and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead. Upton then hit a bunt single down the third baseline that cradled the foul line but stayed fair to put him on first and Fernando Perez in scoring position for the Rays. Upton then walked on 6 pitches, the last 4 balls to get on first with 2-outs in the 7th inning. B J was then caught off first base by Twins starter Francisco Liriano on a pick off attempt, and was tagged out by the shortstop, Adam Everett for the 3rd out of the inning. It was Upton’s 16th caught stealing attempt of the year, which has him ranked 1st in the majors this season.
Rays’ 5 hits
Besides Upton’s 3 hits on the day, only two other Rays produced hits in the contest against the Twins. Rays catcher Michel Hernandez had a single to left in the 3rd inning to lead off that inning, and ended up scoring on Pena’s Sacrifice fly in that inning. And Rocco Baldelli had a single to left with 2-outs in the 6th inning. On the day, the Rays also got 4 walks off Liriano in his 7 innings of work today.
Loss with over 30,000 fans
This was only the 2nd time this season that the Rays have lost a game where at least 30,000 fans have been in attendance. The offical attendance for the Rays was 36,048 for the game. The Rays also lost their first game of the year against the Seattle Mariners with same 36,048 in house for the home opener for the Rays. So the team have effectively bookended the season with their only 3 losses with over 30,000 as their first and last game of the year.