Rays Catch No Breaks in Loss

 

 
                     White Sox 3,           Rays 2

 

 

 

 
 

The Dye was Cast

 
I hate to admit it when the umpires get a play right, but the circumstances surrounding their logic and reasoning last night boggled the mind. In the sixth inning last night with Dye at the plate, he hit a ball that seemed to go fair and then Aybar picked it up deep in the hole and threw to first base for a easy put out. At no time did the Third Base Umpire Gerry Davis or Home Plate Umpire Brian Gorman signal a foul ball. It was not until Dye and White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen both started to act like a spoiled children that Gorman even considered the play by having a umpire conference just off the pitching mound.
 
 

During that time, I saw Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann do a really intelligent thing. Either he did it himself, or the Rays bench convinced him to roll the ball to the bench area before the umpire broke from their conference. Since none of the four umpires could of seen the ball  go off of Dye’s big toe and stream down to third base, they made a judgment call on the action. Well, they got it right by replays, but the reasoning left something to be desired. Why couldn’t they have just left it as ” it went off his foot” and not say another word.
 

But then Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out and argued his case as to the odd reasoning they also gave to giving him a foul ball on the play and not letting the play stand as an out.  The umpires called for the ball from the Rays dugout and  Gorman decided that the ball did show that Dye did foul it off his foot. But Dye was wearing grey spikes during the at bat and could not have made a mark on the ball. Also obvious to the fans, but not to the umpires was the fact that Dye was using a black maple bat, and could have produced the mark on the ball from the initial contact with the ball.
 

Maddon was livid at this point because he knew that they had the reasoning wrong on the call. He even went over and pointed to Dye’s spikes to show that he was wearing a neutral color spike that would not provide evidence on the ball. For his action, he gained his 10th ejection as a Rays Manager. But think about this, how can a grey cleat produce a black spot on a ball?  I can not. So Maddon was right in his argument. I wonder if Gorman or the rest of the umpiring crew might be on the lookout for similar situations the next three games at the Trop.
 
 

But the pure fact that none of the four umpires saw the play, or even made a vocal call on it tends to also throw some doubt on it all.  The television replay is the only solid evidence that they got it right, and it was not a reviewable incident.  They did get it right, but Maddon did have a few great points that I wonder if they even took a second look at before deciding that it was a foul ball and Dye again stood in the batter’s box. He did end up hitting a single  in the inning.

 
 
           
 
 
Niemann was a Changed Man
 

Rays starter Jeff Niemann did start off last night game a lot different than his last outing. Tonight he seemed more in control and had the White Sox double thinking a few times at the plate. And that is a great sign for the Rays. Since his last outing some sites and outside voices have called for the Rays to bring up David Price, but after tonight’s performance, Niemann hopefully has given some confidence to the Rays faithful. His ball did seem to have a bit more snap tonight and his pitch selection seemed a bit more in line with the White Sox tendencies. His breaking pitches also seemed to be hugging the corner better, and his fastball had great movement.
 
 
So the Niemann haters had to give props to the tall rightie tonight because he did everything in his power to keep the Rays in the game.  He did get hit around a bit for 9 hits in his 6 innings of work, but he only gave up two runs, and both of those was on a Dye homer run in the second inning.  He did get into jams and a few pretty hairy situations, but the Rays defense stiffened and got him through it with no problems.
 
 

Niemann even helped his own cause in the sixth inning after a Alexi Ramirez short bouncer in front of the plate. the 6 foot 9 inch Niemann got to the ball and as he was tumbling to the turf threw a strike to Dioner Navarro to get the force out at home  for the second out of the inning. The tall rightie looked like a down giraffe on the play, but completed it perfectly to record the out.  But the biggest point of the night might have been in the first inning when he sent the White Sox 1-2-3 to start the game. That bit of confidence is essential for him this season. Knowing he belongs after the media and fans blasted him after his outing in Baltimore is critical for him.
 

After tonight’s display, where he also got White Sox second baseman Chris Getz to fly out to B J Upton in center with men on second and third to end the innnig, just adds to his renewed confidence.  That might have given him the spunk to again come out in the third inning and shut them down again 1-2-3 in the game.  Niemann left the game with it still tied at 2-2, and gave the Rays a chance to win this ball game, but the White Sox came up with a run in the top of the ninth inning to defeat the Rays 3-2.
 

Lance Cormier

 

How much pressure do think this guy has felt in the last 10 days. He was basically the last guy to be told he had a spot on this roster and has fought and clawed his way ever since in the long reliever r
ole. I actually think he has been the most solid member of the Rays Bullpen early in this season. I am wondering if he might just have the type of year that Grant Balfour and J P Howell had last season ans cement himself a  rock solid spot in this Bullpen. So far this year he has appeared in 4 games and pitched for a total of 7.2 innings of work.

 
And in that time he might be the only member of the Bullpen to surrender over 6 hits this season,he has given up 9 hits so far in 2009.  He is also the guy who has been on the mound the longest from the Rays Bullpen.  And not lost in that translation is the fact he has been on the mound in critical parts of those four games against great hitting ball clubs.  Tonight he went 2.1 innings and threw  55 pitches, and gave up the winning run to the White Sox. 

In the top of the ninth inning, after getting a quick out from Ramirez, he gave up consecutive singles to Getz and Brian Anderson to put two White Sox on with one out.  Josh Fields hit a sharp ball to Jason Bartlett that he hesitated for a moment before trying to get the speedy Fields at first. He did not get Fields, and Anderson scored to put the White Sox up 3-2. The play was very close at first base, and if not for Getz coming in high at second base, he might have gotten Fields with an earlier throw to first. But for the sake of argument here, Cormier has come in for some hairy situations this season and came out smelling like a rose. Unfortunately, tonight was not one of them.

 

 
 

El Presidente’ lets his Bat do the Talking

 

Sometime I marvel at how much torque Carlos Pena gets when he arches his back and leans back a bit on his swing. There have been times this year that he might have had the distance to again homer past the wall, but his back was arched too much and it turned into a towering out high into the sky. But last night during the Rays game, Pena hit a monster foul ball moments before correcting the path and again depositing one in the deep right field stands of Tropicana Field. His foul ball was a monster shot, but his homer was of equal distance, and counted to give the Rays a tie at 2-2 at the time in the contest.
 

Pena has been consistent since coming to the Rays in hitting the long ball. And paired with Evan Longoria and Pat Burrell, the trio was the Rays best home run hitting product since the deflated “Hit Show” in 2000. And so far this season Pena and Longoria have not disappointed the home team.  Right now Pena, Longoria and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers all share the top spot in the American League home run contest with 5 this year. Pena is doing it without the usual protection of Longoria in the lineup, which is a huge factor. In the last two games, Pena has had to fight off breaking balls and sinking sliders to erupt into the home run race.
 
 

But with his line-up mate Longoria expected to be back in the lineup tonight, the duo can set their sights on the fans beyond the outfield walls.  Pena also sit in a 6-way tie for the second spot in runs batted in ( RBI) this season with 12. Longoria is also in that mess of six tied with Pena in RBI’s. And even with him just beginning to get comfortable at the plate, with Longo and Burrell in the lineup in front and behind him respectfully, Pena is going to see more and more pitches this year for the Rays . This in turn will be good news, because with more pitches thrown to him, his chances of hitting one long and deep increase dramatically in games.
 

Escot Friday Night Bus Service to Games
 

Starting tomorrow night, April 17th, ESCOT Bus Lines will add three routes to provide transportation to and from Tropicana Field for Tampa Bay Rays Friday  7:38 pm home games. These three routes will service Pinellas, Hillsborough and Sarasota/Manatee Counties.  Here is a tentative schedule of games that will provide the bus service and a example of pick-up points in the three counties served by the Escort service.
 

Schedule

Date Opponent Game Time

Friday, April 17 Chicago White Sox 7:38 p.m.
Friday, May 1 Boston Red Sox 7:38 p.m.
Friday, May 15 Cleveland Indians 7:38 p.m.
Friday, May 29 Minnesota Twins 7:38 p.m.
Friday, June 12 Washington Nationals 7:38 p.m.
Friday, June 26 Florida Marlins 7:38 p.m.
Friday, July 10 Oakland Athletics 7:38 p.
m.


Other games could be added to this schedule in the future.

Pick-up Times for Serivce:

Pinellas County:


5:15 p.m. departure from Tarpon Springs Shopping Mall
5:45 p.m. departure from Country Side Mall
6:30 p.m. departure from Courtside Grille( Carillion Park)
7:00 p.m. arrival at Tropicana Field

Hillsborough County:


5:30 p.m. departure from Beef O’Brady’s, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa
6:00 p.m. departure from Channelside District
6:30 p.m. departure from West Shore Mall
7:00 p.m. arrival at Tropicana Field

Manatee County:

5:15 p.m. departure from Beef O’Brady’s, 5942 34th St. W., Sarasota
6:00 p.m. departure from Beef O’Brady’s, 1795 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch
6:35 p.m. departure from Beef O’Brady’s, 8913 US Highway 301 N., Parrish
7:00 p.m. arrival at Tropicana Field

 
 
Photo credits:  All three photos are from Chris O’Meara / AP

….

14 Comments

Okay – I know it’s the name on the company, but seeing the line “served by the Escort service” is just too funny! I saw a replay of Maddon getting ejected; this seems to be another one of those times when it might have been better for cooler heads to prevail. I hope that all is well for Longoria when he returns tonight.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I will have to agree to disagree with you on the Maddon situation. The Umpires based their judgment on a black spot on the ball as to the fact that he fouled the pitch off of Dye’s foot.
POINT ONE :
He was wearing gray cleats, so there should have been no mark.
POINT TWO: No other umpire including the Home Plate Umpire called a foul ball prior to the whining from Dye and the White Sox bench.
POINT THREE: He was using a black maple bat, which would leave a black mark on the ball if struck hard.
Maddon had valid points.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I can attest to the power of Pena’s bat. He always seems to hit homers against the Yankees, and I don’t see his production going down at all this year. The Rays are a formidable bunch.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Good thing you weren’t listening to the homer broadcast on Comcast. Hawk Harrelson was a little over dramatic in his interpretation of the play and was really annoying me with his angry tirade aimed at Maddon. Ah… such is baseball I suppose. It was a good game overall though. Heck, Bobby Jenks even tried to blow it at the end.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

You know Jane,
I agree with you totally. This bunch could be world killers, but they seem to sputter at the plate at the wrong moments.
But to be honest, every team has those moments where just a little offense would make the difference in the score.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Consistancy is key. Hopefully Upton, Longoria, and Pena can keep it up. Along with everyone else! Especially the pitchers. Also helpful if the injury bug would miss them too. Hopefully the guys can pick it up tonight against the White Sox.
Canuck

Strange things always seem to happen whenever the White Sox are involved. At least there were no phantom interference calls involving AJ Pierzynski this time! Hopefully the Rays will prevail tonight :)-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

I have to agree with Jane. The Rays will be a very formidable bunch through the end. The talent on that team is so scary good. Of course, I agonize the day that David Price is brought up because the guy’s going to be everything as advertised. I hate those periods where your team fails to deliver the key hits or in my case, the bullpen totally implodes…

Scott
http://fotr.mlblogs.com

It is a slow road to repeat, but they are beginning to show a few signs of rolling back down the hill instead of fighting up it.
But the next few games will show some more true colors.
We might not have the best home record this year, but we will be in every game, no matter what this year.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Before the year is over there will be an AJ call. It is like lightning, you know it is going to strike, but you do not know where.
Ozzie has already done a few odd things this series, but I am going to save them for the blog.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

In recent days, the Rays have shown why he is down there. For the second outing in a row he has not been effective as they want and was pulled from the game with 65 pitches.
Price will be a great pitcher, but it is easier to let him grow in the minors than to get a rude awakening and have to suffer in the majors.
That is just my opinion. But when he does get here, he will be here for good.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
I expect a the home broadcaster to be upset.
But Maddon’s points were valid, and he just wanted a united front by the umpire crew.
Consistent calls and views are a good thing for umpires.
I would hate to see a game be decided by a play like that and no one saw it.
It was a good call in the end, but the reasoning and the facts concerning it show the inconsistent nature of umpiring in the MLB right now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Umps make us all nuts, no way around it sadly. I do wish there were some accountability though for when they screw up or just fail to pay attention, ya know?

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Some times they do some clean and admit an error or a simple mistake, but they are not bound by any rule to even say they made an error.
Considering how fast the game moves at times, they do have some of the best quick judgments calls in all of sports, but the errors get blown up huge for everyone else to see.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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