Rays Take Phillies at Home
Today’s match up bring to the mound the oldest rotation members of their respective teams. For the Phillies, they will send iron man Jamie Moyer to the mound. When he first came over from Seattle, I was sure how he would fit into this team’s make-up. But to no surprise, the veteran made a place for himself and excelled in his new city. I really loved watching him after Game 5.5 of the World Series as he was kneeling down getting that pitching rubber out of the mound clay. I am a bit puzzled as to where he might have put that awesome reminder of the series. Do you dig a spot in your backyard for it, or maybe just put it on a shelf and walk past it ans pat it on the top for luck. Whatever he did with it, you can bet he will cherish that piece of history.
The Rays send their old man James Shields to the mound today. It is kind of odd to still consider him the oldest member of the rotation with Scott Kazmir already been on the mound for a few years before Shields came up. But by age, he is the eldest statesman of the group. But how good does it make you feel as a Rays fan that you have this guy and the rest of your staff under control for another three years and can watch their development and wins just move higher and higher.
Shields first faced former Rays infielder Miguel Cairo in the game. He quickly got Cairo on a fastball on the outside corner for his first strikeout of the game. Jason Ellison then came up and got caught looking at a Shield’s change-up on the outside corner for a second out. Raul Ibanez then hit a sharp fly to Carl Crawford in left field for the third out and the Phillies went down 1-2-3. Shields was putting the ball on the lower outside corner of the plate with great control in the inning.
Ryan Howard was the first batter to face Shields in the second inning. He took a nice inside curveball for a called third strike for the first out of the inning. Geoff Jenkins then was pitched inside and gave up a short popper in front of the plate that Rays catcher Dioner Navarro quickly got to and tagged Jenkins for the out. Jenkins did not leave the batter’s box saying the ball went off his foot. The Home Plate umpire appealed to the first base umpire who signaled the out…….end of discussion. With two quick out, Shields again pitched inside on Greg Dobbs and got him to hit a bouncer down the first base line that Pena took for an unassisted third out.
Former Phillie Pat Burrell lead off the inning for the Rays and singled to left field. Gabe Kapler then hit another single to give the Rays base runners early in the inning. Navarro then came out and hit a sharp dying hit to center field that Ellison just barely got to in time for the first out. Burrell quickly had to regroup and get back to second base before Ellison could double him off the base. Gabe Gross then hit a double to center field that bounced to the warning track. Burrell scored on the play and Kapler also was coming in to try and score on the play. But a great throw from Ellision to Jason Donald to Phillies catcher Ronny Paulino got Kapler in stride to tag him out at the plate for the second out. Adam Kennedy then hit a ball to Donald who easily threw to Howard at first to end the Rays rally.
Shields came out again in the third inning after two straight 1-2-3 innings against the Phillies. He quickly got Mayberry Jr to hit a ball to Longoria that he completed to Pena for the first out. Shields then walked Donald to give the Phillies their first real base runner of the game. He then got Paulino to hit a grounder to Bartlett for a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. It was not technically another 1-2-3 inning for Shields because of the walk, but he only faced three batters and a total of 9 in the first three innings.
Moyer came on in the third and quickly got Bartlett to hit a grounder to Donald that he converted to Howard for the first out of the inning. Crawford then hit a ball to the same spot for a quick second out on a 4-3 play. Longoria then hit a sharp liner to Dobbs at third base that he did not have to move to field in the air to end the inning. Except for a little trouble in the second inning, Moyer also looked sharp today with two 1-2-3 innings himself today.
Shields came out in the fourth inning and gave up a lead-off single to Cairo, but he tried to stretch the play out to a double and was gunned down by Gross from right field. It will go down as the first hit for the Phillies, but also was the first out of the inning on the tag out at second by Bartlett. Ellison then hit a long fly to Kapler in center field for the second out. And Ibanez hit his second fly ball out of the game to Crawford in left field to go down 1-2-3 again. Moyer came out and quickly gave up a lead-off walk to Pena. Burrell then hit a fly ball to Ibanez for the first out. Kapler then hit another hard liner at Dobbs at third base for the second out of the inning. Navarro struck out to keep the Rays from expanding on their 2-0 lead.
Troy Percival then came out for the Rays. It would be his first game action since late in 2008 for the team. He was also trying to show the Rays Coaching staff that he is going to be ready by Opening Day and would like to be on the 25-man roster come that first game in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. Percival had been a question mark until recently because of his off season back surgery. He quickly took control of the inning by pitching inside and getting Howard to hit a short bouncer in front of the plate. Navarro quickly scooped up the ball then threw to Pena to get the first out.
Still pitching inside, Percival also took the bat out of Jenkins hands by throwing up and inside and also getting him to chop a ball in front of the plate, which Navarro also scooped and threw to first to complete the out. Jenkins thought the ball went off his right front foot and did not leave the batters box on the play. He voiced his displeasure on the call and it was appealed to the first base umpire who signaled the out. Dobbs then hit another short grounder to Percival that he quickly threw to Pena to get out of the inning with no base runners and showed his control by throwing inside to all three batters.
Moyer, who is being stretch out early by the Phillies came back out for the fifth inning. He got Gross to hit a fly ball to Ellison for the first out. Kennedy then hit a single to give the Rays a base runner. Bartlett then hit a single to left field, but Kennedy did not stray beyond second base. Crawford then hit the first pitch from Moyer to Ibanez for the second out of the inning. Longoria then hit a grounder to Donald, who quickly threw to Howard to get out of the inning with no damage by the Rays. But they still led 2-0 at that point.
Dan Wheeler than took the mound in the sixth inning. It was kind of wild to see Wheeler come out after Percival. It was unusual to see the closer relieved by the set-up man, but it is the spring. Wheeler first faced Mayberry Jr and threw a wild pitch to the backstop before finally getting him to strikeout. Donald then comes to the plate and pops it up to Pena for the second out of the inning. Paulino then got the count to 3-2 before striking out to end the inning.
J A Happ then came out again for the Phillies and got Pena to strikeout for the first out of the inning. Burrell then hit a long fly out to right field for the second Rays out. Kapler then hit a towering shot to left field that easily was a solo home run for Kapler. With two hits today, Kapler has now gone 3-20 this spring for the Rays. Navarro then hit another single off Happ. Gross hit a sharp grounder to second, but it was quickly tossed to second for a 4-6 force out to end the Rays inning. But the Rays are still up 3-0 at the time.
Grant Balfour came out for the Rays in his first appearance since being hit in the bicep/triceps region during his last outing. Balfour ended up giving up a lead-off single to right to Cairo. Ellison then walked to give the Phillies the first two guys on base. Then tries to get Ibanez to ground out, but he he walks him to load the bases for the Phillies. Howard then came up with the bases juiced and hits a sacrifice fly to center field to score Cairo for their first run of the game. Jenkins then struck out to record the second out of the inning. Dobbs then walks to load the bases again. With that, Rays Manager Joe Maddon goes out and gets Balfour and brings in Randy Choate to face the Phillies with two outs. Mayberry hit a high popper to Longoria, who caught the ball for the third out of the inning.
Happ came out again for the Phillies and gave up a infield single to Ray Sadler. Happ then caught Sadler leaning a bit at first and he threw to Howard who then threw to second for the tag out on the pick-off attempt. Reid Brignac then hit a fly ball to left field for the second out. Morgan Ensberg then walked to put another runner on base for the Rays. Rays Olmedo then came out and hit another shot to left field to end the inning for the Rays.
Choate again came out for the Rays in the top of the eighth inning. He quickly got Donald to hit a fly ball to right field for the first out. Chris Coate then came up and hit a long fly ball to the warning track in center field, but Justin Ruggiano caught the ball before the wall. Mike Cervenak then hit another fly out to Sadler in right field to end the inning. Happ again comes out in the bottom of the eighth inning and gives up a lead-off single to Ruggiano. Michel Hernandez then hit a sharp grounder to Cervenak, who tosses it to second to start a 4-6-3 double play and erase Ruggiano from the base paths. John Jaso then hit a ball in between Happ and first that he picks up and tosses to first to end the inning.
The Rays replace Choate and send out Joe Nelson for the top of the ninth inning. This is Nelson’s second outing this spring. Ellison comes up first and hit a fly ball to left field for the first out. Pablo Ozuna then lined a ball to left field for the second out. So Andy Tracy came up with two outs for the Phillies in the inning. He then took a hanging pitch by Nelson down the right field line for a solo home run. the entire time the ball was in the air, it was fighting the wind down the line. Lou Marson then struck out to end the Phillies rally and the final score will ne 3-2 Rays victory.
Today we saw a question mark answered for the Rays. With Percival having his dominating inning, he showed that he is on pace to be ready by Opening Day. His inside pitching took the bat out of the Phillies hands and he got three quick and concise outs in his first appearance this spring. Also a good sign is the pitching of Shields who also seemed to be able to throw every one of his pitches for strikes and kept the Phillies guessing during his outing. This was the second Spring Training game against these two squads. the next time they meet will be the scene of the Game 5.5 last out as they will play a two-game series in Citizen Bank Park April 3rd and 4th in Philadelphia.
Photo credits go to: 1) RRCollection
2) Associated Press ( Charles Krupa )
3) The Enquirer.com
4) Associated Press ( Charles Krupa )