Rays Get Blasted by Tigers
I wanted to first start off my blog tonight by telling everyone that former Rays closer, and current Tigers reliever Todd Jones has announced his retirement from baseball on 9/25/2008. Jones was a closer for most of his career for 8 teams in the majors. He leaves with 319 saves in 1,072 major league innings. Tood spent his 2004 Spring Training with the Rays before being released on March 25, 2004. Jone might have not ever thrown a pitch during the regular season for the Rays, but he was good to the fans and made an impression on me as a treu professional on the field. I wish the best for him in his life away from baseball.
Okay, now back to over regularly scheduled blog moment. I am really psyched that the City of St. Petersburg and the Rays have decided to have a celebration in Straub Park this Monday at 5 P.M. It is an exciting time to be a Rays’ fan, and to actually just be a baseball fan. The current playoff season should be one of the most closely contested playoffs in a long time. Our opponent has not been decided, since the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins have been fighting it out the last 3 nights. Just remember, the White Sox have 4 games left to play, not 3 like I thought earlier in a blog.
I forgot about their make-up game against the Detroit Tigers, that will certainly be played this Monday unless the Twins or White Sox hit rock bottom this weekend and the divsion is handed to either team. I am expecting that the game will be played because of the 3-games series these team play this weekend. If for some reason they both win all 3, or have an similar record in the series’, the Monday contest would decide the division. If that happens, I expect the White Sox to pull out all the stops and put their best on the mound, because a loss will mean they are in front of the TV watching the other play the Rays.
Rays Magic Number: 1
Any Rays win or Boston loss gives the title to the Rays. Also do not forget if by some ungodly reason we are tied on Sunday, the Rays win on the tiebreaker of winning the overall series against the Red Sox 10-8 this year
Already the local media have brought out the Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde aspect of Scott Kazmir’s last few starts. I am thinking more in the line of, is he trying to spot his pitches, or is there a true mechanical issue with him right now? Seriously folks, sometimes it looks like the guy is trying to put it to a spot instead of being the power pitcher that he has always been for the Rays.
Kazmir is a power pitcher period. He is too young and too talented for a pitching coach to try and change his delivery right now in his career. He was the 2007 strikeout king, but this year an elbow injury has even kept him off the leaderboard because of innings to qualify for the honors. He is 8.2 innings short right now from being able to post his number with the big boys this year. His 9.65 strikeouts/ 9 innings would be leading the AL, and his .217 opponents batting average is 2nd in the AL. And his 3.49 ERA would put him 11th in the AL this year. It is a shame this guy is not able to show his true numbers to the rest of the league.
This game was not vintage Kazmir by any measure of the imagination. His command was not awful, but he did let more thna few batter off the hook yesterday after getting them to a 0-2 count. Kazmir gave up a total of 4 homers in this contest to match the amount given up a few weeks ago in a start. In his last start, Kazmir rebounded from the worst start of his career to win and clinch a playoff berth for the Rays. A victory today would have sparked off another mad run for the champagne bottles, but it was not in the cards for the Rays.
Kazmir worked 5 innings today and gave up only 6 hits and 4 runs in 102 pitches in the contest. But it was his leadoff homers in the 1st and 3rd innings to Ramon Santiago that took the game out of Kazmir’s hands. Santiago entered the game with a grand total of 1 homer this year before facing Kazmir today.
Not to be lost in the translation is the fact that he also gave up a leadoff homer to Mike Hessman on a 0-2 pitch in the 4th inning, and a another leadoff homer to Dusty Ryan on a 3-1 gount in the 5th inning. At this point, Kazmir had given up 4 homers to lead off his first 5 innings of the game.
Before this season, who would have thought you would be using the words power and hitter together to describe Ben Zobrist. He has honed a great power stroke this season at the plate, and his switch-hitting has been a blessing to the Rays. Ben again displayed his power by hitting his 9th homer of the year to tight in the 1st inning. The play put the Rays up early 1-0, and it would be the last time they led in this game.
Zobrist for the day went 2-4, with 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored for the Rays. His 3-run homer, his 2nd of the game, was a thing of beauty traveling maybe 421 feet to just pop over the deep centerfield wall in Comerica Park. That brought the Rats close 5-7 in the game, but after his homer, the Rays offense could not click to produce any more runs in the game. That was Zobrist’s first multi-homer game of his career.
I sometime do not know what to think of Jason Hammel. He has had moments as a long reliever this year with the Rays, and as a closer in the Boston series. His mixed review appearance leave you with a feeling that he might not be here on 2009 based solely on the talent this team has behind him. Because he is out of minor league options, and would have to clear the Waiver wire to even get to the minors, the Rays have not been able to move him up or down this year. Tonight was anotherexample of how much he stills needs to learn to be a top reliever. But I do feel he has the talent and the motivation to be a reliever, but the Rays might not have the time and position in 2009 to teach him the position. Nothing personal Jason, I get a kick out of you personally in the way you carry yourself on the squad.
Hammel came in and pitched 1 inning today abd gave up 2 critical runs in the 7th inning He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits, which began with a Santiago single to right. He then gave up a screamer down the leftfield line to Marcus Thames that Eric Hinske lost in the corner and Santiago scored from 1st to give the Tigers their 5th run of the game. Hammel pitched great for the Rays until Miquel Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Thames with the game winner. Curtis Granderson then came up and put a 1-2 pitch into the rightfield stands to give the Tigers their last run of the game, and a 7-2 lead.
Longoria hit his 27th homer of the season in the 7th inning. The line drive shot barely cleared the leftfield wall, but gave the Rays their 2nd run of the game. For the day, Longoria went 1-3 and als got a walk in the contest. Evan has benn batting .240 since returning to the lineup on Sept. 13th. His 27 homers leads all MLB rookies, and he is the 11th AL rookie in the last 25 years to reach 26 homers. He also leads all rookies in RBI’s ( 85 ), total bases ( 236 ), and Extra Base Hits ( 60 ) this season.
I am a huge fan of the work that Percival has done in the Bullpen this season both on the mound and in teaching the younger guys the hidden secrets in relieving in the majors. You know this guy has a great mind for baseball, and he is always egar to share the information with his teammatea and make this Bullpen better daily. I know the Rays and Manager Joe Maddon have to make a decision soon on Percival to either include or delete him from the Playoff roster.
The roster is not dues until early nest week, but the nest few games might be an audition for Percival to show he can pitch on notice and can be depended on in multiple day outings. Today’s appearance was for 1 inning and he threw 17 pitches and gave up only a single walk to Matt Joyce. His velocity looked good and his command was a bit off, but around the plate. He looked more like he was trying to use the corners too much tonight instead of going after the guys like he usually does on the mound. But all in all, it was a productive and great outing for Percival. Tomorrow might be the true test and might be the deciding outing on his post season bid.
I have always been cautous to use the phrases collusion and pre-meditated when talking about the relationship bewteen the Rays and the MLB brass. But this schedule situation just reeks of improper usage of power and uncommon misinformation by the league office. Isn’t there a MLB travel rule that states if you travel by air more than 1 and 1/2 hours, your next game can not be played brfore 5 P.M. the following day?
Funny, the Rays got into the Detroit area after 2 A.M. and might have been in their hotel at 3:30 or 4 A.M. before having to get up and get on the team bus to the stadium at 10 A.M. Funny, the Yankees and the Red Sox do not these kind of farse games on their schedules this late in the year. Nice messup MLB, maybe we might try and win it all now and you can stuff this game somewhere very dark.
Here is a nice stat for Rays fans. Since our first game in 1998, no one other than the New York Yankees, or Boston Red Sox have won the American League East title. So by winning the title, the Rays will break the streak by the fab two that has been deadlocked for otyher teams for 11 years.