September 2008

Yankees Take the Night Cap Against The Rays

 

 

Yankees 6, Rays 5

 

By winning the first game today, the Rays have vanquished the New York Yankees plans to embarrass us again with a sweep in the 3 game series. As you might remember, before the All-Star break, we came inot the Bronx and were tossed around a bit before leaving town for Boston and getting kicked a few more times up there.

 

Today starts a streak where the Rays will be playing 16 games in 15 days, with another doubleheader planned for the last series in Baltimore on Tuesday, September 23rd.  With boston losing the first game to Toronto today, it puts the Rays back up 2 games  above the Boston Red Sox.  It also reduces the Rays number to make it into the playoff to 9 games.

 

 Rays Magic Number:        14

This is the combined number of Rays wins and Boston losses to secure their first A L East Crown.

 

            

 

During the early parts of this second game in the doubleheader against the New York Yankees, Rays starter, Matt Garza did not look comfortable on the mound . Garza’s focus was not great tonight and it got him in early trouble against the Yankees.  Garza led off the game by walking Brett Gardner on 4 pitches. Derek Jeter then came up and set down a sacrifice bunt in front of the plate that was handled by Garza. Garza threw a low throw to first that was scooped by Carlos Pena for the force out, but the play moved Gardner into scoring position at second  base.

 

He then walked Bobby Abreu on  6 pitches to put men on the corners for the Yankees.  After a  Garza balk moved both men into scoring position, Alex Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield that Fernando Perez had to make a leaping catch for the out. Gardner tagged up at third base and scored to put the Yankees up 1-0. For the night, Garza went  5 innings and gave up 6-hits for 3-runs. He threw 83 pitches on the night. Garza’s lack of control got him an equal 3 walks and 3 strikeouts in the game.

 

                              

 

The night did not turn out any better for the Rays in the 2nd innig as Ben Zobrist lost a Robinson Cano looper down the leftfield line to lead off the inning. Cano did not harm the Rays in that inning, getting stranded on second to end the inning.

 

              

 

During the 4th inning, Wilson Betemit hit a Garza 2-seamer to rightfield for a solo shot to pull the Yankees within 2 runs of the Rays, 4-2. Garza seemed still upset about the homer as he pitched to Ivan Rodriguez.  Rodriguez then singled to left on the first pitch from Garza. 

During Cody Ransom’s at bat, Rays catcher Dioner Navarro tried to throw out Rodriguez stealing second, but threw the ball to the right of Akinora Iwamura and into centerfield. Rodriguez advanced to third on the throwing error by Navarro.  Rodrigues scored on a  Brett Gardner grounder to second to put the Yankees within one run 4-3.

 

In the top of the 4th inning, the Rays scored  4 runs and went ahead of the Yankees 4-1.  Navarro lead off the inning by walking on 6 pitches.  Gabe Gross the hit a liner to rightfield for a single and put Navarro in scoring position at second base. Perez then hit into a 1-4  play to force Gross out at second base. 

 

 Akinora Iwamura then walked on 4 pitches to load the bases for the Rays. Ben Zobrist then came up with the bases loaded.  Zobrist then hit a 1-2 pitch for his 8th homer of the year, and his seond Grand Slam of the season. Zobrist hit a Grand Slam on August 29th against the Baltimore Orioles in the 4th inning of that contest.

 

J P Howell came on to pitch in the bottom of the 6th inning and put the Yankees down 1-2-3 in the inning. In the 7th inning, the Rays began to unravel a bit behind Howell when Jeter reached on a infield single to third that Aybar could not handle. The next batter, Bobby Abreu, hit a ball to Zobrist at short that Zobrist threw towards the second base side of the bag and beyond the reach of Iwamura. The ball went sailing into rightfield and Gabe Gross was given an error on his over running of the ball in rightfield.

 

Jeter ended up scoring on the overthrow and Abreu advanced to second on Gross’s outfield mistake. This put Abreu in scoring position, and the Yankees and the Rays were tied 4-all at this point.  Carlos Pena then went for a foul ball on the firstbaseline near the infield tarp and appeared to have the catch before falling in between the tarp and the stadium wall and losing the ball out of his glove.

 

Abreu moved to third on a wild pitch by Grant Balfour during Xavier Nady’s at bat. Nady then hit a ball up the middle and scored Abreu from third to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the game. Robinson Cano then  came up and hit the bag at third and it settles near the foul line for another double in the inning. Betemit then struck out swinging to end the inning for the Yankees.

 

 

The Yankees then got an insurance run in the 8th inning off  Rays reliever Chad Bradford.  Cody Ransom reached base on a infield single to shortstop that Zobrist could not get to first in time for the out.  Gardner then hit into a fielder’s choice, taking out Ransom at second base. Gardner then stole second on the 2nd pitch to Jeter. Jeter ended up walking on 6 pitches and set up men at second and first for Abreu.  Abreu then hit a blooper single to rightfield thast scored Gardner and put the Yankees up for good, 6-4.

 

The Rays came out in the top of the 9th against Mariano Riveria and gave a valiant effort to tie this contest. Gabe Gross lead off the inning with a single to leftfield. Gross ended up going 3-3 on the night for the Rays.  Fernando Perez then popped out on a bunt single to the pitcher for the first out. 

 

In 3 innings tonight, the Rays Bullpen gave up 3 runs on 5 hits, and only one of those runs was a earned run tonight.  In his 1.2 innings, Howell did the most damage tonight by getting 4 strikeouts in the game. It is one of the first times in a while that the Rays Bullpen did not hold the lead for the Rays.

 

                                

 

 Aki then struck out on three pitches before Evan Longoria came up as a pinch-hitter for Zobrist. Longoria hit a RBI single to rightfield, scoring Gross and pulling the Rays within 1 run, 6-5.  Justin Ruggiano then hit into a 6-3 force out to ends the game for the Rays.

 

                          

 

Rays Take Game Uno of Double Set

 

 

Rays 7, Yankees 1

 

Hey all, we have another Rays player who has been nominated for the Marvin Miller  Man of the Year Award.   MLB players are some of the best contributors of time and money to local charties and events. And it is in this spirit that the MLB Players Association has annually, since 1977, awarded the Marvin Miller Award to a deserving MLB player. The Ray nominated by his teammate for this award  is Rays reliever Trever Miller.

 

Trever Miller is a low key guy by nature and can always be counted on for a smile and a kind word for fans or  his teammates. Miller is an active member in the community and gives his time and resources to various charitable organizations. He is an annual contributor to Barry Zito’s Strikeouts for the Troops and Miracle League’s B.O.D.’s for Florida. Miller hosts the annual Miracle League golf tournament and also dedicates time and money to the Ronald McDonald House and All Children’s Hospitals in St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

The award, named after the first executive director of the PA, is presented each year to a player elected by his peers as the one who best combines on-field performance with community service.  Voting began this week on MLB.com and MLBPLAYERS.com, the PA’s official Website, and fans are asked to select one player from each of Major League Baseball’s six divisions.

 

The six finalists will be voted on by Major League players as part of their annual Players Choice Awards balloting Sept. 17 (Sept. 18 for Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres players) at ballparks throughout North America to select the winner. So let’s get out there and vote for one of our own, reliever Trever Miller for the Man of the Year Award in 2008.

 

 

Rays Magic Number:             14 

This is the number of combined Boston losses and Rays wins to secure their first A L East crown.

 

 

 

Evan Longoria fans can rejoice because the Rookie is back into the lineup, and by the way he was batting in that first game, is hitting like he has not missed a game this year. Longoria went 2-5, with 2 RBI’s in his frist game back since the August 6th injury in Seattle.  In all, Longoria missed 28 games during his wrist injury and Evan showed early on that his defensive skills have also not been rusty since his DL visit.

 

Longoria first came up in the 2nd inning and got a single through the hole between short and third, and scored on Justin Ruggiano’s double to the rightfield wall.  Longoria did have a hand on one of Derek Jeter’s singles today, but could not convert the play in time to get the quick shortstop.  Longoria then came up in the 5th inning and got 2 RBI’s on a  liner down the leftfield line. that scored Ruggiano and Jason Bartlett to put the Rays up 3-0. At that point in the game, Longoria had gone 2-3, with 2 RBI’s.

 

In the 6th inning, Longoria dove and stabbed a drive by Xavier Nady to the ground before throwing him out at first to end inning. Longoria was behind thrid base when he relased the ball and it was a strike to Carlos Pena.

 

                                    

 

Rays starter James Shields won his 13th game today with a great effort against the New York Yankees. Shields went  8 innings and gave up only 5 hits on the day to leave in the 8th inning with a shutout of the Yankees. In the contest, Jeter got 3 of the Yankees  8 total hits on the day. Shields used his change up to strikeout 6 Yankees batter in the contest.

 

 

                                 

 

The only run given up by the Rays today was by Rays reliever Trever Miller who came on in the 9th inning for Shields.  Bobby Abreu hit a 0-2 count for a  solo homer into the rightfield stands for the only Yankees score in the first game of the doubleheader. 

 

Miller then  gave up singles to Nady and Giambi before getting Hideki Matsui to line out to rightfield. Cody Ransom then got on base on a fielders choice that forced out Giambi at second base, and moved Nady into scoring position at third with 2 outs. Miller then got Robinson Cano to pop out to third on the 3rd pitch to end the first game of the double header with the Rays up 7-1.

 

 

An interesting note on new Rays catcher Michel Hernandez. He originally got up to the majors with the New York Yankees in 2003. In his 5 game September call-up. Hernandez went 1-4 for the Yankees. Also amazing is that this is the first time Hernandez has caught James Shields and the battery mates did not produce a passed ball or wild pitch all game. Hernandez went 1-5 in today’s contest ans scored on Ruggiano’s double in the 6th inning.

 

 

 

Ruggiano had a banner day for the Rays going 3-4, with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s on the day. He first got the Rays off to a 2-0 score when he doubled to the rightfield wall for his 3 rd double of the year. Fernando Perez scored along with Longoria to give the Rays the early lead.  Ruggiano also singled to centerfield in the 5th inning.

 

                     

 

During that 5th inning, Yankees catcher Jose Molina tried to pickoff Ruggiano at first base, but Ruggiano was able to slide into second safely after a bad throw by Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi.  Ruggiano scored after Jason Bartlett singled to rightfield.  Ruggiano was not done for the day, he also got another double in the 6th inning and was almost picked off after he fell rounding first base, but got into second in time to beat the throw.  Ruggiano moved to thrid on Bartlett’s RBI Scarifice Fly and went home on Carlos Penas’  error to first in the inning.

 

There was a tense moment in the ball game after Shields hit Molina in the hip with a pitch and the catcher took exception to the pitch.  TV camera caught Molina talking in terse terms to Pena at first base about the event. Two pitches later, when Johnny Damon hit  a ball towards second base, Molina went out of the basepaths towards Ben Zobrist on a deliberate attempt to break up the double play. Second base umpire, Gerry Davis immediately signaled for the double play outs because of Runners Interference on Molina.

 

If Molina had stayed in the basepaths’ this would not have been called by the umpire. By the next time Molina was up to bat, all the tension from the hit by pitch was over and the game was without incident from that moment.

 

Jonny Gomes and 2007 First Round Draft pick, David Price arrived in New York for today’s doubleheader. Gomes played in the first game going 0-3 in the contest and playing rightfield for the Rays.  Rays pitchers Jeff Neimann and Mitch Talbot will meet the team in St. Petersburg on Monday as the Rays begin their last 7 game homestand of the season.

 

 

Rain Delay Comments and Tidbits

 

I was chuckling pretty hard last night at the Keystone Cop routine the New York Yankees were playing during the rain delay/decision-making process.  It was kinda funny that the Rays braodcaster kinda already knew the postponement was in hand, but the stadium tunred on the light and was selling concession out the ying yang.

Guess that is Hank Steinbrenner’s way of getting some extra cash for beer and hot dog sales before he breaks their hearts and sends them home in the rain.  But I think that with a $ 200 million dollar payroll you have yo do those sort of things to balance the budget.

So on we go with a day/night doubleheader today. It should be a fun time in the old Bronx . Considering the season has only 16 days left to it, these games had to be played some time this weekend. So with that in mind, I decided to do a tidbits column about all the odds and ends stuff we have on our plates today.

 

I am sorry to report that the Durham Bulls have lost their series against the Scraton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Bulls were blasted out of Durham Athletic Park 20-2 last night in a game that Bulls starter Wade Davis never had under his control last night.

The Yankees dominated right from the get-go, plating five runs in the second and third innings, a run in the fifth, eight in the sixth and one in the ninth. Juan Miranda did the most damage, going 3-for-5 with a three-run home run, two runs scored and six driven in. The Bulls, meanwhile, mustered only a run in the fourth and another in the eighth on a Gabby Martinez home run.

Wade Davis (1-1, 6.75) never found his groove giving up eight runs – five earned – on four hits and six walks. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Phil Hughes (1-0, 0.69) was dominant, striking out 12 Bulls in only five innings and allowing a run on four hits and four walks.

The Yankees advanced to the Express Employment Professionals Bricktown Showdown Triple-A Championship Tuesday at Oklahoma City’s AT&T Bricktown Park. They will face the winner of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series, which is currently being contested by Oklahoma City and Sacramento.

 

But good news does come out of Durham for the Rays as theyr recalled Outfielder/DH Jonny Gomes, and pitchers Jeff Neimann, David Price and Mitch Talbot.  Gomes is happy to be back with the big club and is anxius to get to New York to play in one of the two game against the Yankees.  Pity the Yankees have not called up Shelly Duncan so Jonny and him can settle things over a pilsner and a steak.

Great to see Talbot up again. You might remember he had a 24 hour stint up in the majors this season before the Rays sent him back down to Durham. Jeff Niemann will get another look-see, and might even get a start in one of the two games today. It is just speculation, but the rumor is one of the guys being called up will get a shot at pitching soon with the Rays.

Of course all signals would normally point to David Price being that guy, but I believe that Rays Manager Joe Maddon will let the kid take a few days, or innings to absorb the enviorment.  But then again, if they have decided to use him as a reliever for the rest of the year, he could see action fast up here in New York. Maybe as early as tomorrow or the night game.

I was watching the “Inside the Rays” segment on former pitcher Doug Creek last night and have to tell you the guy looks healthier than he ever did on the mound in those shots. You might remember Creek for his hard stare and massive curveball on the mound for the Rays. But the Trop. still has a few stained turf spots in front of the Bullpen where Creek used to sit and chew tobacco and spit it in a determined segment of the carpet.

 

Also there is the time when Creek was out on his boat a little later than he wanted to be, and he had to get to the ballpark. Well, Doug put the boat on it’s trailer and towed it to the 3rd Avenue South, just behind the players parking lot area. He parked it on the street in the section right before the turn in for the parking lot in a 2-hour parking spot. He let the stadium security guy know it was his truck, and he could not get it and the boat into the lot without some hassle.

The players’ lot is a simple rectangular lot, and manuvering a boat in that small section would be next to impossible. Well, Doug went into the lockerrom and dressed for the game not knowing that the St. Petersburg Police Department was in the process of towing his boat and truck away as a violation of the post-911 city ordinances about vehicles without operators on-site.

The did not take the 5 minutes to talk to the stadium security, or to even get with the Rays or Creek before having a tow truck impound Creeks boat and truck. No one knew the truck was gone until after the game, and then everything hit the fan.

The situation was a bit tense for about an hour before the towing company guy showed up and took Doug to his truck and boat. There was no damage to either and Doug got into the truck and drove home. Creek never again brought his boat to the Trop after that night.

 

Also of note is the wild situation that Hurricane Ike has put on the the MLB schedule. As of last night, there are 4 doubleheaders today and one scheduled for Sunday. Not since the mid-1080′s has the league had to have as many postponments on games due to weather.

 

Evan Longoria is also penciled into the afternoon contest for the first action since damaging his wrist during the Seattle away series on August 7th.  Longoria was hoping to face some live pitching before coming back, but will instead face Yankee stater Mike Mussina in the game. Longoria must feel great to finally get back on the field, but must do it against the slurveball throwing Mussina who is by far the class of the Yankees pitching staff this season.

 

 The Rays lost a Friday coin flip and will have to travel to Fenway Park if a one-game playoff is needed to break a tie for the AL East championship, though the game would only be played if the losing team was not going to be the wild card. ( HINT, HINT)

Executive VP Andrew Friedman called tails, joking that he did “a thorough analysis” and that after senior VP Gerry Hunsicker, who’d lost several when with Houston, recommended heads, he went with tails. Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he actually made the call.

 

There was a lot of Internet buzz after Rays reliever Troy Percival looked on TV to be pointing at and calling teammate Carlos Pena a four-letter word before leaving Wednesday’s game hurt.

Percival said Friday he didn’t recall doing so, but Pena, after some thought, recalled the situation. He said Percival did use the bad word, but in the context of Boston’s David Ortiz on first, who represented the tying run, something like “That (bad word) doesn’t score.”

My September 11th Retrospect

 

 

                        

 

Every American has a different view and prospective on the horrific events of September 11th 2001.  Anyone over the age of 10 will always have a memory of those twin towers smoking up like chimneys and the sound of all those tons of steel and concrete finally falling to rest at the base of the towers. We can not ever change the fate of those who dies or who sacirficed themselves that day. We also can not forget about the pain and the confusion as we wonder aloud what the world was going to be on September 12th for us.

I just want to state for the record that I am proud  of the  way the entire country pulled together for the citizens of New York City. And I am still remorsing over the loss of those two great towers that beamed freedom and power to the world as a symbol of the Big Apple.

 

I remember I was working on a vending route that day for Pepsi and was just coming out of the Franklin Templeton building in Carillion Parkway when the sky fell silient. I was within a 8 miles of Tampa airport, and about 5 miles from the small St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. As I got into my truck, I was unaware of the first tower being hit by an American Airlines plane out of Boston for LA.

 I pulled into the parking ot of a financial services company down the road and the receptionst ans ths taff were all huddled over the television watching the events when I got into the building.  My pager then went nuts with 5 straight pagers from my company telling all trucks to finish their current stop and proceed back to the warehouse immediately. It seems that a company executive decided that we needed to be off the road in case of a similar episode here in the Tampa Bay area.

Considering we had MacDill Air Force Base near the city, it was decided that if they were targeting military and high profile locations, Central Command might be a target.  So I proceeded by to the warehouse and sat with most of the plant’s employees wathcing the horrific events. 

I could only think about how as a 10-year old, my uncle George took me on top of the north tower while it was being bult and showed me the sight of New York form a new prospective. How proud my uncle was of designing the express elevator system in the towers, and coming to work in such a great viewing enviorment every day. I got on my cellphone and tried to call him, but it seemed that most of the cicuits into New York at that time were being overwhelmed by family and friends checking to see if loved ones and friend were okay.

 

During that low point in American history, the Tampa Bay Rays were in a hotel in Manhattan preparing for a game against the New York Yankees. Of course with the danger surrounding New york at that time, the game was cancelled and players and Rays staff were advised to stay in the hotel as a security measure.  When the Rays finally did get to play New York, it was the first day that baseball again got to be played in this great city.

                             

 

It was a game surrounded by emotional episodes and truly patriotic gestures by fans and players. As a measure of rememberance, all the players uniforms had a American flag patch over the MLB label in the rear of the uniform. The players caps also had a stitched flag on the left side of the cap, closest to the heart.

 

                                     

 

It was a game not played for competition that day. Both teams were a bit numb, and it showed on the field. It was a game of healing for the fans and citizens of this great town. It was a show of trying to get back to normal, or try and figure out what normal was anymore. It was a contest that the score did not matter, and the  score was bot remembered by the fans. It was their time to grieve, celebrate, and also ponder what to do now.

And the Rays considered it an honor that they could help this process for the city. Everyone knows the outpouring of the entire country for the citizens of New York  City . But with the action of the Rays and Yankees playing a simple ballgame, it brought about a sense of getting back to life, and a place to remember and rejoice.

 

So on this day, 7 years ago, many  NYC firefighters, Port Authority and NY police men perished in this disaster. I still have acap from Brian Rekar that in the brow has his number 35, and the  “FDNY”, and “NYPD” in it in sharpie. He gave me the cap aftere the last game in 2001 at Tropicana Field, and I have had it in a case ever since that day.

 

                                 

 

It was a day that we will not forget, or can forget.  But isn’t it a real joy to know that baseball helped the healing process in that time of grief and suffering.  And for that reason, I am glad we did not play today in New York. The city has healed, the site has been excavated and is undergoing change, but the memory and the emotional pull of Ground Zero will always grow heavy on this nations heart.

Pena and Rays Pull off Upset Win and Series

 

Rays 4, Red Sox 2

 

Coming into the Boston series, I would have loved to know the Rays were going to “meatloaf” the defending World Seires champs. But when you have lost 8-straight in a stadium you kinda take what that team gives you. What Boston might have gave Tampa Bay last night was an inside track to winning their first of many A L East titles. The Rays are not looking to just make the playoffs, but make a statement about the AL East for the next 4 years or so. And I think the Bosot nfaithful now believe that the Rays are going to be the pests from the south for a long time.

 

What the Rays showed in this series is that sometimes you just need timely hits and great walks to secure a one or teo run game for your squad. You do not have to always blast a 3-run homes to win, but it sure does help. The Rays have been great all years in not having one guy take the blunt of a loss, or that too many guys get caught up in the winning that they forget where they were last season. With veterans on this squad like Carlos Pena, Eric Hinske, Trever Miller, and Cliff Floyd, you know the team is loose and can bounce back after any small blip this year.

 

Becuase we have a few guys in that clubhouse who have World Series Rings, it brings a sense of confidience that the Rays have the guys to lead them out of the cellar and into the light. This season has been a true sunburned exsistance for the Rays, but the work is not done yet. Every series and game from this poinr on is not only a new mark for the franchise, but a new level of security and cofidience for the future. Starting next season, the Rays can talk about getting back to this level, and moving beyond last years expectation to a new heights in the light.

 

I want to commend Jason Hammel on showing the moxy he has on the mound the other night. He came in pretty cold compared to most nights on the mound and did an excellient job securing the win.  I have been critical of him this season, and maybe I just expect more out of him since he has no options left and must almost daily show why he should be here in 2009. I have a weird feeling he might not be with this squad in 2009 only becuase of the depth pushing upward from the Triple-A level. But last night he showed that he is a better pitcher than I thought he was, and that he is  a clutch performer.

 

Rays  Magical Number:    16

Combined Rays wins and Boston losses needed to secure their first AL East crown

 

          

Last night was Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine’s 4th attempt at win number 14. It is a pity that he did not factor into the decision, as he pitched one of the best games of the year for the Rays. Considering that he held the Boston offense to 1 run for so long is amazing. Not to say that he is not a great pitcher, but Boston could smell the blood in the water and knew thay had to quell these Rays before they could figure out how to win this contest.

 

Sonnanstine went 7 innings and pitched a 4-hit, 1 run gem that will go down as one of the most important games of this year for the Rays. It was not just a one man effort, which is just what they Rays have been all year long. They are 1 team. Sonnanstine also got 7 strikeouts on the night and really only had one inning where the Red Sox thought they could open this game wide open for a win.

                          

                                      

 

In the 3rd inning, Jed Lowrie led off with a single down the first baseline just out of the reach of the outstretched Carlos Pena.   Jason Varitek then hit a fielder’s choice, and Lowrie was safe at second on a bobble by Akinora Iwamura on the exchange with  Jason Bartlett at second base.  Aki was caught for his 7th error of the season, and the Red Sox had the first two batters on base in the inning. 

 

Dioner Navarro the tired to pick off Lowrie, who had strayed a bit at second, but he got under Barlett’s tag at second. Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a 6-4-3- double play to give the Rays some breathing room, with Lowrie now at third base. Dustin Pedroia, a thron in the Rays’ pitching staff this season, then hit a liner down into the leftfield corner to score Lowrie and put Pedroia on second with his 46th double of the year. David Ortiz the  hit a high popped to centerfield to end the inning with the score tied 1-1.

 

In Sonnanstine’s last inning, he threw 13 pitches and got the Red Sox in order. But what is more amazing is that he threw 6 straight strikes before giving up a ball to Lowrie before striking him out.  Sonnastine then gave up a single to Jason Varitek, but then got Ellsbury to strike out on 4 pitches to end the inning.

 

         

 

You have to admire the job that Cliff Floyd has done with the Rays this season. Bad kness and all, Cliff has been the hustle and the leadership needed by this young team. He had lead by example and told the team to follow him, and they will end up in the promised land. I like that kind of mentality. 

 

Floyd took a 0-1 pitch and slammed a hard grounder to Pedroia at second that caught the end of the turf behind the pitching mound and inceased its velocity towards him. Pedroia could do nothing with the ball and Floyd ended up with an infield single to second on the play. 

 

Willy Aybar then took the first pitch from  Red Sox starter,Josh Beckett and put it into the rightfield corner for a triple. Floyd was hustling so hard running from first to home you thought the guy was going to fall on his face from exhaustion after the play. But Floyd was all smiles as he strolled back to the smiling bench area knowing the Rays drew first blood in the game.

 

In the 2nd inning, the Rays caught a break when a fan reached out into the field of play and interferred with a ball hit down the line by Mike Lowell. On the replay, it looked like the ball might have just fell into fair territory if the fan did not touch it, but the thrid base umpire, Mark Wegner, was quick to call the out on the fan.

 

Dan Johnson, who was playing in the outfield for the first time in his MLB career, was sliding under the play when the fan reached out and changed the path of the ball.  I honestly feel that Johnson would have gotten the ball, but it is great to see that the umpire was not gun shy in making that call in the perils of Fenway Park. Johnson did not have the proper glove to play the outfield,  and had to use Floyd’s glove in the game.

 

The Rays had plenty of chances to blow this game wide open during the first 9 innings. In the 5th inning, the Rays had the bases loaded after Bartlett hit a single into the leftfield corner and Johnson and Pena got walks in the inning. But Floyd hit a long high fly ball to right to end the inning.

 

In the 6th Aybar hit a dying liner into centerfield that Ellsbury got within a few feet of falling to the turf. On the next play, Hinske hit a hard liner down the line at first that Kevin Youkilis knocked down and threw to Beckett for the force at first. Both these plays were of web gem quality. 

 

Both squad suffered at the plate in this game with runners in scoring position. At one point, the Rays were 0-7 on the night, and were a combined 1-29 in the series against the Red Sox.  Both squad have been on their best defensive behavior this series.

 

In the 8th inning, Pena lead off with his 21st double to the bottom of the Green Monster and put a man in scoring position early for the Rays. Ben Zobrist then walked on 7 pitches and the Rays had an early rally. Aybar the n popped up to Youkilis, and Fernando Perez wa issued a intentional walk to load the bases for  Dioner Navarro. Navvaro ended up striking out, and Gabe Gross hit a gronder to second to end the inning for the Rays with the score still tied 1-1.

 

The Rays the n had another chance in the 11th inning to end the game, after Gross hit a liner into the leftfield corner, but Bartlett hit into a grounder to Pedroia who made the throw to Youkilis to end the inning.  At that point, the Rays were 0-11 with runners in scoring position in the game.  In the 13th, the Rays started a rally when Zobrist hit a ball into the rightfield corner for a double. This put another Rays in scoring position with no out in the inning. Aybar the walked, before leaving after a 6-4-3 double play on the ball hit by Perez. This put Zobrist at third with 2 outs.  Navarro then hit a ball to first that Youkilis tossed to Red Sox reliever  Manny DelCarmen for the last out.

 

                                  

 

In the 14th inning, the Rays already had two outs in the inning when Aki singled to centerfield. Rocco baldelli then  came on and singled to leftfield to put Aki in scoring position. Pena then came up and then hit the second pitch from Mike Timlin over the Green Monster for a 3-run homer. His 28th homer was his first over the  Green Monster in Fenway Park. This put the Rays up 4-1.

 

                    

 

The bottom of the 14th inning saw Rays closer Troy Percival take the mound. Percival gave up a quick double to right center to get the lead off batter on for the Red Sox. Perdroia and Ortiz then walked on a total of 9 pitches before the bases were loaded for the Red Sox.  Rays Manager Joe Maddon then came out and confronted Percival on the mound with Rays trainer Paul Harker. You could visually see that Percival and Maddon were having a very elevated discussion before Maddon signaled for a reliever and Percival went into the dugout.

 

It was found out after the game that Percival had been experiencing back problems while warming up in the Bullpen. Percival thought it was just a tight muscle and would loosen during the inning. Maddon did not take this as great news and immediately replaced Percival. You could see Percival grimicing on the mound during his pitches and even a bit when talking to Maddon.

 

Now this puts the Rays in a weird situation. You know that the team will have to evaluate the situation and make either an effort to give Percival some time to relax, or maybe give another one of the Bullpen guys like Dan Wheeler or Grant Balfour the ball at the end of the game. I honestly love the fighter mentality of Percival to give his all before bowing out, but at what cost will this have for the Rays. You have to admire the spunk and determination, but in this playoff enviorment, do you play favorites, or go for the jugular.

 

I say that we monitor Percival and limit the save oppotunities the rst of the season. If it looks like Percival will not be a great back end guy for the playoffs, let another of the young studs do the job and shut down Percival for the rest of the year. By giving his roster spot to another guy, you will open the situation of a up and coming guy to get valuable expereince for the years to come.  I do not want to see Percival shut down, but sometimes a executive decision will have to be made on his on going injuries this year.

 

 

 

Rays versus Red Sox…………Rubber Match Preview

 

The Rays will be going for a unsuspected series win tonight in Fenway Park. Last night’s expolsive last 2 innings propelled the Rays to a 1 1/2 game advantage on the Red Sox. The win guaranteed that the Rays will be in first place not matter what the outcome of tonight’s game, when they leave Boston.

The Rays used recently called-up players Fernando Perez and Dan Johnson to get the first win in Fenway since September 2007. Not a coincidence, Scott Kazmir was the starting pitcher that nigth against the Red Sox. Here is the lowdown on both starting pitcher tonight. Rays starter,Andy Sonnanstine has not faced the Red Sox in 2008, so his batter statistics will be taken from his rookie seson, 2007, against the Red Sox.

 

                             Andy Sonnanstine is currently 13-7 for the Rays, with a 4.66 ERA. He is going for his record tying 14th win for the fourth time in 2008. He is shooting to share the record on a temporary basis with Rolando Arroyo. It is considered by many that the Rays will have at least one more pitcher hit the 14 win mark before the end of the regular season.

Over his last 50 starts, Sonnanstine has posted 19 wins, which ties him with Kazmir and Victor Xambrano for the Rays top honors. His .650 winning percentage as a pitcher is the high water mark for the Rays. This season, Sonnanstine is 4-1 against the AL East, but has pitched to a unimpressive 6.46 ERA during those starts.

Sonnanstine is averaging 1.6 walks per 9 innings, which rankes him 5th in the AL. Andy has also posted a 3.37 strikeout to walk ratio, which puts him at 9th in the AL in that category. The Rays have gone 11-6 in Sonnanstine’s last 17 starts, and since August 15, 2007, he is one of only 6 pitchers to post at least 18 victories in that span.

Sonnastine has not face Boston this year, but during his rookie season, he faced them 4 times and went 1-1, with a 8.85 ERA. He had made 2 previous starts at Fenway Park, going 1-0, with a 7.20 ERA. On August 15, 2007, Sonnastine defeated Daisuke Matsuzaka for his firsat win in Fenway Park against the Red Sox.

 

2007  Boston batters’ statitics against Sonnanstine:

 

Coco Crisp                  3-8                   3 runs,double, 2 RBI’s, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell               6-9                   5 runs, double, 1 walk

David Ortiz                3-10                  2 runs,double,triple, 1 RBI, 1 CS

Dustin Pedroia          1-10                  1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek            4-6                    2 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI’s

Kevin Youkilis          1-8                     1 run, double, 2 strikeouts

 

 

                              Josh Becket is currently 12-9, with a 4.20 ERA for the Red Sox. Josh just completed his first game back on Friday in Arlington, Texas following a 15 day DL visit for an elbow strain.  In the 8-1 win agianst the Rangers, Beckett threw 40 pitches in the first 4 innings and struck out 7 for the game. But during the next 2 innings, Beckett needed 40 additional pitches to complete the 6th inning.

 

Beckett has faced the Ray 4 times this season going  2-1, with a 2.57 ERA.  Becket has gone at least 6 innings in his last 8 starts against Tampa Bay, but might be undeer close eye by Red Sox Terry Francona because of his recent stint on the DL. In his 5  starts against the Rays since 2007, Becket has posted a 4-1 record, with a 2.72 ERA and has a 40/5 strikeout to walk ratio against the Rays.

 

After a Bullpen session last week  where Francona watched Beckett throw 58 pitches, the mangaer decided to activate the righ-hander and start him against Texas last Friday night. Becuase this is Beckett’sa second start since coming off the DL, it is projected that he will be on a 80-90 pitch count for tonight’s game.  Beckett’s velocity is still down after the DL stint, but his control is still there and should have his usual array of off-speed pitches to stay with the Rays’ batters.

 

Rays batters’ against Josh Beckett:

Akinora Iwamura              3-9               1 run, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K’s, 1 BB

Carlos Pena                       2-7               1 double, 2 strikeouts

Cliff Floyd                         1-3               1 strikeout

Dioner Navarro                 1-9               1 run, 3 strikeouts 

Eric Hinske                       4-9               1 run, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 K’s      

Gabe Gross                       1-7                1 run, 1 HR, 2 RBI’s, 2 K’s, 1 BB

Jason Bartlett                  1-7                1 run

 

Evan Longoria is the lone Ray not playing tonight who has a great line against Beckett this year. Evan has gone 4-9 against him this season, with a double, 2 runs and 2 strikeouts. Oh, and he has a home run  against Beckett

Carl Crawford and B J Upton are a combined 1-16 against Beckett in 2008, with 8 strikeouts. Crawford has the lone hit, a single against Beckett.

 

 

Kazmir Pitched Gem to End Curse at Fenway

 

Rays 5, Red Sox 4

 

Dan Johnson was probably at home in Durham when he got the call sometime during the A.M. hoiurs to pack a bag and get on a flight to Boston to join the Rays during their current roadtrip. Johnson along with newly acquired catcher, Miguel Hernandez boarded a flight for the big leagues and arrive at Fenway Park at 6:45 P.M., just before the first pitch of the game.

 

Johnson had been acquired when he was put on waivers by the Oakland A’s earlier in the season as an insurance policy against Carlos Pena having to go on a extended DL stay after he had his injury the last time we were in Boston. Johnson was sent to Triple-A 48 hours after arriving in St. Petersburg, and has been instrumential in the Bull’s run for the Governor’s Cup. 

 

Johnson’s addition to the roster is to brovide more power in the Rays bench in the coming weeks against some high power pitchers in the AL. Jonny Gomes was also listed as a candidate for the move, but it was decided he would provide the Bulls with the needed power as they try and win the Governor’s Cup from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

 

Hernandez was brought up as a insurance policy for anbother back-up catcher with the recent injury to Shawn Riggans. Riggans has a bursa Sac situation on his knee that might be infected and prolong his stint from behind the plate. With neither John Jaso, or Hernandez having any working time with the Rays pitching staff, it would put the Rays in a huge disadvantage if Dioner Navarro would go down any time soon with his hamstring problems. Let’s hope that Navarro and Riggans can endure and keep the good catching duo healthy for the rest of the season, and beyond.

 

Rays Magic Number Is:    18

 

Combined with a Rays win, or Red Sox loss, this is the number needed to secure the AL East Crown for 2008.

                       

 

To say Dan Johnson has been waiting for this moment for the Tampa Bay Rays might be an understatement of huge proportions. Johnson, who was with the big club  for only 48 hours earlier in the season came back up tonight and provided the single most important drive of the franchises’ short history. To say his pinch-hit homer was less than a miracle at the time would be underestimating the pressure and the effect it had on this young squad.

 

Johnson, facing one of the major leagues best closer took a 3-2 count and crushed the next pitch by Jonathan Papelbon into the Red Sox Bullpen area for a 4-all tie in the top of the 9th inning. The look on Papelbons face said it all last night after the homer.

 

He was dejected and unsure of his pitches the rest of the inning. It was only the 4th loss of the season for Papelbon, but it secured the Rays being in first place when they exit  Fenway Park tomorrow night after the rubber game of the series.

 

  

During the game, the Rays went 0-14 with runner is scoring position before Dioner Navarro’s liner into the leftfield corner in the 9th inning. The drive scroed Fernando Perez, who had hit a high and deep ball off the Green Monster for a double earlier in the inning. The score put the Rays up 5-4, and the Rays finally had a scoring opportunity to finish 1-15 with RISP for the game. It was one of the most important RISP attempts this road trip for the Rays as it sealed the first win in Fenway Park this season for the Rays.

 

 

The Rays put constant pressure on Red Sox starter Diasuke Matsuzaka. The Rays had baserunners in every inning of the game, but the 8th inning, and  the Red Sox kept the game close until the 9th inning.   Carlos Pena got the first hit on the night on a single to rightfield in the 1st inning.  Dioner Navarro and Gabe Gross then got back-to-back single to right to put a Rays runner in scoring position for the first time last night.

 

 

 

In the third inning, Akinora Iwamura lead off the inning with a bunt single that had Matsuzaka falling off the pitching mound in pursuit of the play. Ben Zobrist and Pena then got back-to-bakc walks to load the bases for Cliff Floyd. Floyd was the hit by the second pitch by Mastsuzaka in the knee and scored Aki from third on the play. The Rays then sqaundered 3 chances to score more runs and ended the inning up only 2-1 on the Red Sox.

           

 

Gabe Gross then hit a single off the first base bag that sent Kevin Youkilis running for the ball in the short rightfield. Jason Bartlett then put a screamer down the third baseline to score Gross from first and put the Rays up  3-1. The Rays had Willy Aybar in scoring position in the 5th inning, but could not convert to get him to the plate. In the 6th inning, Aki got a lead-off single to right, but was stranded on second after 2 Rays’ batters.

 

           

In the 7th inning, Aybar again led off and singled to left. Fernando Perez then walked on 12 pitches to put Aybar again in scoring position. The Rays did nor capitalize on the inning and were a combined 0-14 at that point in the ballgame with runners in scoring position. 

 

In the 9th inning, Dan Johnson led off the inning with his first hit and homer for the Rays when he pinch hit for Justin Ruggiano. Aybar then hit a long fly ball to Coco Crisp in center for the 1st out of the inning. Fernando Perez then hit the second pitch from Papelbon off the Green Monster and doubled to put himself in position to put the Rays in front in the 9th inning. Navarro then hit the second pitch he saw down the third baseline into the corner and Perez scored from second to put the Rays ahead 5-4.

 

                         

Scott Kazmir put up one of his best starts of the night in one of the biggest games in the Rays history. Kazmir was not invloved in the final decison of the ballgame, but was instrumental in getting the Rays into position to win tonight. Kazmir went 6 innings and posted 5 hits and gave up two runs on  108 pitches.

 

Kazmir had his fastball looking great all night and used his slider to compliment his pitches tonight. This is the first time this season that Kazmir has relied alot on his slider. His slider is a great out pitch for him, and he used it selectively all night long to get the Red Sox batters’ off balance at the plate. Kazmir even looked to be throwing better in the 6th and 7th inning, then in the beginning of the ballgame.

 

 

Kazmir did run into trouble early in the game when he gave up a single to Dustin Perdroia in the 1st inning. Perdroia has been very effective against Kazmir this season. Kevin Youkilis then hit a high drive off the Green Monster to score Pedoria from first and put the Red Sox up first, 1-0.

 

Kazmir then sent the Red Sox down in order until the 4th inning, until Mike Lowell hit a solo homer over the Green Monster get the Red Sox back to within 1 run, 3-2. Kazmir then got out of trouble in the 5th and 6th inning to leave the ballgame after 108 pitches. Considering Kazmir pitched 28 times in the 1st inning alone, his long night is a testament to his pitching style and power.

 

Grant Balfour came on in the 7th inning and sent the Red Sox down in order 1-2-3 in the inning.  Balfour has now pitched in 9 of the last 17 games for the Rays. He currently leads all MLB relievers with a 12.95 strikeout per 9 innings ration.  If this statistic holds up, it will be the  2nd highest total ever by a reliever and the best total ever  by a righthander in the AL.  His .136 opponents batting average against is also tops in the Al, and 2nd in the majors this season.

 

 But in the 8th inning, Dan Wheeler came on and gave up a walk to Youkilis with 2 outs in the inning. Jason Bay then came up and hit his second homer in two days to put the Red Sox up 4-3. Wheeler then got Lowell to ground out to Bartlett to end the inning.

 

                  

In the 9th inning, Troy Percival came on to pitch and gave up a walk to Mark Kotsay to start the inning. Jacob Ellsbury came on as a pinchrunner and stole second base on a throwing error by Navarro to put the tying run in scoring position for the Red Sox.  But then Jason Varitek struck out, and two straight fly ball out sealed the victory for the Rays, and earned Percival his 28th save of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rays versus Red Sox………….Game 2 Pregame Statistics

 

In tonight game against the Boston Red Sox, Scott Kazmir will have to pitch the game of his young career. At stake is  first place in the American League East, and a shot at reducing their number to get into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Kazmir is considered Tampa Bay’s ace, even tho he is the youngest memeber of the starting rotation. He has the most experience of the 5 starters and is the most confidient going into tonight’s game.

 

                       Kazmir is currently 11-6, with a 2.99 ERA for the Rays. He is 8.2 innings short of applying for the AL leaderboard for his pitching accomplisments in 2008. If he qualified, he would be 4th in the AL with his 2.88 ERA, and would be tied with Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka with a .210 opponents batting average. He would also be 2nd in the AL with an average of 17.9 pitches per inning. But his 9.97 strikeouts per 9 innings would lead the AL.

In his last 2 starts, Kazmir is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He has given up only 4 hits in his last 2 starts and held opponents to a .161 average in his last 5 starts. This will be his 20th career start against Boston. Kazmir got his 2008 debut in Fenway and suffered his first loss before winning the next 6 starts of the season. He is 6-6 lifetime against the Red sox, with a 3.02 ERA.  In his last 2 Bosotn starts, he is 0-1, with a 7.01 ERA.

He last faced Boston at home on July 2nd and pitched 5 innings, but did not get the decison in the last game of the 3 game sweep. Kazmir struck out 49 Bosotn batters in 2007, to become only the 4th highest strikeout amount by a opponent pitcher in the last 50 years against them. Kazmir hurled a 2-hit complete game shutout, the only one of his career against the Red Sox at home on July 3,2006.

 

Red Sox batters against Kazmir in 2008:

 

Coco Crisp                    1.000             1 stolen base, 1 walk, 1 run

Jacob Ellsbury               .166              1 stolen base

Mike Lowell                  0-4                 2 strikeouts, 1 walk

Dustin Pedroia             .800               1 double, 1 triple,1 homer

Jason Varitek               .250               2 strikeouts, 1 walk

Kevin Youkilis             .250               1 RBI, 1 walk

Dustin Pedroia is the only Red Sox to hit a homer run off Kazmir this year.

 

                             Daisuke Matsuzaka is currently 16-2, with a 2.88 ERA in 25 starts for the Red Sox this season. He has 3 career starts against the Rays at Fenway Park, but this will be his first since August 15, 2007. Tampa Bay has gone 2-17 against him in 2008. He has given up only one earned run in 5 innings against the Rays in 2008.

In his career, he is 1-1 against Tampa Bay in Fenway, and is 0-2 at Tropicana Field. He currently is 3rd in the AL in ERA with 2.88. And is tied with Toronto’s AJ Burnett with 16 wins this season for 4th in the AL. He is second in the AL in walks allowed with 85 for the year, and  has only given up 6.81 runs per 9 innings to lead the AL. Righties are hitting only .199 against him, and lefites are hitting .221 in 2008.

 

Tampa Bay Rays batters against Matsuzaka:

Akinora Iwamura          0-3

B J Upton                      0-2                2 stolen bases, 1 walk

Carlos Pena                  0-2                 2 strikeouts, 1 walk

Cliff Floyd                    0-1                 1 walk      

Eric Hinske                  0-1                  1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dioner Navarro           0-2                  1 strikeout

 

The only Rays batters to get a hit off of Matsuzaka this season are Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford, who will not be available for this Boston series.   

 

Rays Designate Guzman, Add 2 to 40-Man Roster

 

The Rays have just added the following players to their  40 man MLB roster, and have designated INF Joel Guzman for assignment.
 
 
 

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Michel Hernandez

Born:August 12, 1978
Height/Weight: 6-0/215
Hometown: Lutz, FL

Position: Catcher
Bats/Throws: R/R
Number: 36
2007 TEAM: Somerset/Durham

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2007 Season
 
 
Began the year with the independent Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League.
Batted .342 with three home runs and 16 runs batted in over 25 games before signing with Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent on June 9.
Had a four-hit game on June 30 against Toledo.
Owned the longest hitting streak by a Bull at 16 games (June 28 to July 25), going 26-61 (.426) over the span.
Got three hits in a game against Richmond August 22. Career Highlights
Spent the 2006 campaign with Triple-A Memphis in the PCL, his second consecutive year in the league.
Played the entire 2005 season with Triple-A Portland of the PCL
Had his first season outside of the Yankees organization in 2004 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Made his only major league appearance in 2003 in five games with the New York Yankees, where he got a hit in four at-bats.
Made his professional debut with Oneonta in the Yankees organization in 1998.
 
PERSONAL / MISC 
 
 
Starred as the backstop for the Havana Industriales in the Cuban National League, the same club that produced Orlando Hernandez, Vladamir Nunez and Rey Ordonez.
Fled Cuba in October 1996 after his Havana team traveled to Mexico for a series of games. He was joined by four teammates.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent with the New York Yankees on May 11, 1998.

 

 

Team Roster

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Dan Johnson

Born:August 10, 1979
Height/Weight: 6-2/220
Hometown: Chandler, AZ

Position: Infielder
Bats/Throws: L/R
Number: 46
2007 TEAM: Sacramento
/OAKLAND

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2007 SEASON
 
Set career-highs in games, at-bats, home runs, runs batted in, walks and strikeouts and matched his best in triples.
Made his only career trip to the disabled list with a torn labrum in his left hip, missing only the first 20 games of the season.
His 15-game hitting streak from April 28-May 15 was Oakland’s longest on the season and his career-best.
Became the first player in Oakland history with at least four runs, four hits, four RBI, two home runs and two walks in one game on 5/10 at Kansas City.
Was named the American League Co-Player of the Week for May 7-13, sharing the honor with teammate Jack Cust.
Ranked second in the American League in pitches taken (64.5 percent).
Committed four errors in his first 59 games at first base and then went on to finish the season on a 38-game errorless streak. Ended with a .996 fielding percentage, a career-best.
Singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning on 8/31 against Detroit, his second walk-off plate appearance of the season.
Had his second two-homer game of the season on 9/15 against Texas, the third of his career. He also matched an earlier 2007 performance with four RBI, a career-best.
 
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
 
Started 2006 as the A’s first baseman, tying a team record by starting the year 0-for-27.
Made his major league debut in 2005, ranking second among AL rookies in on-base percentage (.355), tied for second in walks, third in slugging percentage (.451), tied for third in home runs and fifth in batting and RBI.
Named the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League in 2004.
Named to the Texas League’s Postseason All-Star Team in 2003 after finishing third in all of Minor League Baseball with 114 RBI.
Finished third in the A’s farm system in home runs, fourth in RBI and eighth in batting with Single-A Modesto in 2002.
Earned consecutive player of the week honors for the weeks of July 23-29 and July 30-August 5 in his first professional season with Low-A Vancouver in 2001.
 
PERSONAL/MISC
 
Originally drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the seventh round of the 2001 Draft.
Was a Second-Team All-America selection by Baseball America as a senior at the University of Nebraska in 2001, batting .361 with 25 home runs and 86 RBI.

Rays Squander Chances versus Red Sox

 

 

Red Sox 3, Rays 0

 

Scott Kazmir will take the mound tonight in one of the most important games for the Tampa Bay Rays franchise tonight. If the Rays lose, they will be out of first place for the first time in almost 2 months. to add a bit more pressure to ther young lefty, the Rays have not won in Fenway now for 8 games, and the last time they won was on a night that Kazmir beat Curt Shilling 1-0.

 

Not lost on Kamir is also the bravado and vigor he has thrown out in the last week about accountability and playing for the moment.  The lefty is the youngest member of the starting rotation, but he has the demeanor at times of a 10 year veteran in the  MLB trenches. But that is also one of the things you love about they guy. He is not afraid to put it on his back and try to carry the team.

 

Considering if the Rays walk out of Fenway on Wed. night not getting a single win in Fenway this season, they will leave in second place, down by 1 1/2 games to the Red Sox. Not lost on the Rays or Bosotn is the fact that in 9 days they will do it all over again at the Trop., where the Rays have dominated the Red Sox this season.

 

Rays Manager Joe Maddon is quick to point out after a series whne reporters ask him what series is important. He has said almost reliously, “the next one” all year long. This series might be important more for the team’s morale and their confidience coming back home after 3 more in the Bronx.  This is the time of year where the winners step up, and the also rans get left by the roadside. And I can not see Maddon hitchhiking back to St. Petersburg.

 

 

Red Sox 3, Rays 0

 

 

It was one of those rare nights that you thought the league should not give a loss for such a pitching effort. Edwin Jackson might have lost the game to the red Sox 3-0, but it was his composure and his confidience after the 1st inning that registers high on my admiration meter. Jackson came into this first “must win” game probably a little more psyched and enegetic than he wanted to be when he tossed that first pitch to Mark Kotsay.

 

Jackson had a rough 1st inning against the Red Sox last night. Of course Kotsay started it all by walking on 5 pitches, but Jackson got the AL average leader, Dustin Pedroia to line out to Akinora Iwamura to set the defensive tons for the night.  David Ortiz then came up and hit a ball high off the Green Monster that if B J Upton would have hustled a throw to second, Ortiz would have been tagged out and sitting on the Boston bench. Ortiz’s blast scored Kotsay from first and gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

 

Kevin Youkilis ( You-kill-us) then came up and hit a ball up the middle that Upton got early and tried to get Ortiz at the plate, the throw was cut off and the Rays go Youkilis in a run down trying to advance to second on the throw for the second out. Jason Bay, who the Rays desperately tried to trade for at the trade deadline then came on and hit a solo homer over the Green Monster to put the Red Sox up 3-0.  In that first inning, Jackson ended up throwing 28 pitches and it looked like an early night for him.

 

 

 

 

 Jackson rebounded from the 1st inning to throw until J P Howell relieved him in the bottom of the 8th inning. Jackson ended up throwing  98 total pitches on the night. He threw 70 pitches from the 2nd inning on last night.

 

Jackson also shut the Boston offense down by only giving up 5 more hits the entire night before leaving with 6 strikeouts. The rebound by Jackson was a great pick-me-up for the Rays in that they saw this young pitcher battle through his demon 1st inning and regain control of the game and pitch effectively from that point on.  With that in mind, it is a pity that such a pitching display as to result in his 10th loss of the year.

 

 

The last time the Rays suffered back-to-back shutouts was against the Boston Red Sox in April 2004 at Fenway Park.

 

Several plays stick in my mind as to the tunring points in this first game of the series. In the 1st inning, Upton bunted a ball into the air and Red Sox starter, Jon Lester picked it out of the air and threw to first to double up Aki to get two quick outs on the Rays.  The Rays went down in order, 1-2-3 4 times until they came alive in the 5th inning against Lester. Rocco Baldelli ended up striking out on all 4 of his plate appearances last night.

 

 

                                    

 

 

The Rays finally showed a glimmer of offense in the 5th inning when Dioner Navarro started a potential rally by walking on 7 pitches. Jason Bartlett then came up and hit a single into left to advance Navarro to second base.  But Gabe Gross hit a weak grounder down the first base line and Youkilis tosed the ball to Lester to get out of the inning without a run.

 

 

 

The Rays again started a potential rally when Aki singled to left, and Ben Zobrist walked. Both men advanced on Carlos Pena long drive to centerfield, but were stranded when  Rocco Baldelli struck out to end the 6th inning. The again tried to mount an attack in the 8th inning when Ben Zobrist hit a ball off the upper half of the Green Monster for a long single.

 

Carlos Pena then hit a sharply hit ball down the first baseline that was grabbed by a fan with his white cap for a ground rule double. This put 2 rays in scoring position with 2 outs. Baldelli again struck out to end the inning. In the 9th inning, Eric Hinske came on as a pi9nch hitter for Jason Bartlett and delivered a single to centerfield and moved over on defensive indifference to get into scoring position with 2 outs.. Gabe Gross however struck out to end the game for the Rays.

 

                                  

 

 

B J Upton came out of the game in the beginning of the 3rd inning. Upton was hurt on the drive by Ortiz off the Green Monster in the 1st inning. It is a  pulled hamstring muscle and Upton will be day-today at this time.

 

The Rays did keep themselves in the game with some fantastic defensive play during the game. In the 1st inning, that play on Youkilis saved at least 1 run in the game on the quick decision by Navarro to cut off the throw and get the sneaky Youkilis at second base.  In the 4th inning, Jason Bay was awarded a single on a very close play at first on a fantastic backhand grab deep in the hole by Bartlett.

 

 

The Rays ended up with a 5-4-3- double play on the next pitch to Mike Lowell to erase Bay from the basepaths. In the 5th inning Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tried to be a bit fancy and bunted towards thrid, and Aybar took the ball barehanded and threw out Varitek at first base.  Kotsay tried to advance on a single in the inning and was gunned down by Gross to get the 2nd out of the 5th inning.

 

 

Fernando Perez, who moved from  left to center with Upton out, made a great running catch on Dustin Pedroi’s deep fly out near the Red Sox Bullpen wall. And Rays reliever, J P Howell picked off Coco Crisp on first after a single to leftfield. Important is the fact that Howell had just come on to relieve Jackson and picked off Crisp before even throwing a pitch in the game.

 

Great news that Rays reliever Juan Salas is fine after suffering  a epileptic seizure prior to Monday night’s game vs. the Red Sox and was taken to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure, but was released shortly after the contest began. 

 

“He’s had it before,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It just normally takes hours to get him back and he should be back by tomorrow. … We’ve gone through it before. He’s fine, he’s fine.”

 

I  hope that Rays television analyst, Joe Magrane asked Rays equipment manger, Chris Westmoreland for a fielders’ glove after last nights game in Boston. Twice during the telecast, Magrane had to shimmy out of the way of wayward foul balls hit into the broadcast booth by Rocco Baldelli and Dioner Navarro. Magrane was okay on each incident and plowed onward and upward in his on camera moments. 

 

 

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