Results tagged ‘ Edwin Jackson ’

Rays Win Last Gameof the Season in 11th Inning

 

Rays 8, Tigers 7

 

I was glad to see that Rays Manager Joe Maddon let Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi take out the lineup card today before the game. I have known Scott now for about 8 years and I know of no one else in the organization who has done more and wished more for every pitcher who has graced the mound at the Trop. From the late Joe Kennedy and Cory Lidle, to David Price and Mitch Talbot, Cursi has warmed them all up and made sure they were up to the task of pitching for the Rays. 

 He is one of the unsung heros of that Bullpen that most fans would never know die to his low key demeanor and style. But he ia also a viable reason alot of these guys feel so calm and secure going out to the mound. He is the silent Bullpen Coach. And the honor today was fitting for one of the Rays hardest workers over the last 10 years.

 

                      

I am saddened to know that after today’s game, Detroit Tigers’ Pitching Coach Chuck Hernandez was let go by the team. Hernandez was with the Rays in the minor league system before finally coming up tho the major league level and leading the team in t lean years. He was here in the infant days of Scott Kazmir, and as a leftie, he could illustrate and teach Kazmir about the tough job of a lefty in today’s game. I know who ever get this great coach next season will see how fast this guy can fine tune and turn a Bullpen into a winner.

I also want to alert fans of an upcoming video to be shown in the Rays Playoff games. The video will be members of Maddon’s Maniacs, that group that first brought the cowbell into a cult status at the Trop. You might know them more by their bright yellow shirts with the screaming baseball that looks like Rays Manager, Jow Maddon. This group was formed several years ago to act as a cheering conglomerate in their sections of the stadium.  So look for the video on the Jumbotron during the Playoff games, and Go Rays!!!!!!!

 

Rays 8, Tigers 7

 

                               

James Shields

It was just a formality that Rays starter James Shields even hit the mound today. The Rays were using the start as a stretching out period to get Shields some work before he starts the Rays first Playoff game in the Trop. next Thursday. Shields came out and threw 10 pitches in his 1 inning of work and got the Tigers to go down 1-2-3. All 3 outs were on ground balls and were alternated between the 3 infield positions.

 

Mitch Talbot

Talbot is in the mix as one of the guys the Rays were going to discuss before deciding if he was to be on the team’s first ALDS  25-man roster. After today’s performance, I have a feeling that the young rightie will have thrown his last pitch this season for the Rays. It has been a wild season for Talbot, first brought up for 48 hours before heading again for the Triple-A Durham Bulls. In today’s relief appearance, he never looked calm or in control on the mound.

Talbot had an eventless 2nd inning as the Tigers went again down 1-2-3. But in the 3rd inning, the tide began to turn for the young pitcher. Brandon Inge hit a smoker down the leftfield line into the corner and ended up with a double, with no outs in the inning. Inge moved to 3rd on a Wild Pitch by Talbot. Ramon Santiago then walked to put men on the corners for the Tigers. Curtis Granderson then took a 2-1 count the deposited the ball into the leftfield stands for a 3-run homer, and put the Tigers up 3-0.

In the 4th inning, Talbot had a few control issues and gave up 5 walks in the inning. Edgar Renteria singled to right to lead off . After Dusty Ryan flied out to center, Inge, Santiago,Granderson ans Gary Sheffield all walked to scored 2 runs in the inning. With those runs crossing the board, Talbot was done for the day. In his 2.1 innings of work, Talbot gave up 5-runs on 5-hits, and gave up 5 walks on 71 pitches for the Rays.

 

Rays Bullpen

The Rays Bullpen then combined to post 4.2 innings of scoreless work lead by  Rookie David Price going the first 1.2 innings and striking out 2 batters.  After Price, Dan Wheeler came on for 1 inning and posted 2 strikeouts and 2 walks in his time on the mound. With today’s appearance, Wheeler now has 4 straight years of at least 70 appearances in a game.  His 26 holds is tops on the Rays, and 4 short of the AL lead held by the Angels’ Scott Shields.

Then Troy Percival came on and got a hitless inning to boost his chances of being added to the post season roster.  Percival has been on notice that Maddon wanted to see a effort and control during his last  appearance this season. In his last 8 appearances, Percival has not been too impressive, he has given up 7-hits and 9-runs in 5.1 innings of work.  Opponent’s are hitting only .188 against him this year, good enough for 7th in the AL. Trever Miller then came on in the 8th inning and pitched another scoreless frame for the Rays.

 

                          

Edwin Jackson

Then in the 9th inning, Maddon inserted usual Rays starter Edwin Jackson to close out the game for the team. Jackson started the 9th by throwing some hard stuff around 96 M.P.H. plus against the Tigers.  But Sheffield ended up hitting a single into rightfield to lead off the inning for the Tigers. Magglio Ordonez then hit a 2-run homer on a 2-2 pitch to left to tie the game at 7-7 and send the game into extra innings. Jackson ended up pitching 2 innigs and gave up 4-hits and 2-runs, while throwing 43 pitches.  The homer gave Jackson his first blown save of the year.

 

            

 

Powerful 5th inning

 In the end, Jackson ended up winning the game when the Rays won the game in the 11th inning. With the win, Jackson joined fellow starters former Rays Rolando Arroyo and James Shields as the only Rays starters to win 14 games in a season. The win was Jackson’s second in the week and puts him at 14-12 for the season. This is a massive improvement over the 5-15 he posted last season.

 

In the first 4 innings of today’s game, the Rays went down in order and did not seem to have the offensive firepower today. But in the 5th inning, the Rays began to attack Tigers starter Zack Miner. Rocco Baldelli hit  a leadoff homer 423 feet to centerfield to put the Rays finally on the board. Willy Aybar the hit a double into the leftfield corner to put another Rays into scoring position. After 1 quick outs, Eric Hinske hit a 2-run shot to rightfield  402 feet over the scoreboard to bring the Rays to within 2 runs, 6-4.

 

         

 

Big 8th Inning Rally

In the 8th inning, the Rays sent 9 men to the plate and scored 4 runs to Rays up 7-5 in the game. The inning began with John Jason hitting a ball throught the hole between short and thrid for a single. Then Dan Johnson hit a liner about 15 feet off the ground to put 2 rays on base with no outs. Fernando Perez then walked on 8 pitches to load the bases for the Rays. Jonny Gomes then hit a ball that went over centerfielder Curtis Granderson’s head and over the wall for a Ground Rule Double.

Gomes got 2 RBI’s on the play. Aybar then walked after Baldelli struck out to give the Rays a man on with 1 out. Ben Zobrist then hit a grounder to right to score Perez and move Gomes to third base and Aybar to second base and Zobrist to first to load the bases again for the Rays. Ruggiano then struck out, and Hinske walked to score Gome and leave the bases loaded for Jaso.  Jaso  was till at the plate when Aybar was called out on a runner’s choice for the 3rd out of the inning. But the score was now 7-5 Rays.

In the 10th inning, with the scored tied, Gomes tried to turn his single into a double and was tagged out at second for the 1st out in the inning. The play was a bit too aggressive, but Gomes could have gotten the base if he slide to the infield side of the bag.  Aybar hit a screwamer into foul territory down the rightfield line that Mike Joyce caught for the third out.

 

             

 

Ben Zobrist

For the game, Zobrist went 2-5 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored for the team. But it was his solo homer in the 11th inning that sealed the win for the Rays. Zobrist has now hit 4 homers in 4 games against the Tigers this weekend.  In hitting his 12th homer of the season, Zobrist is showing a new power aspect to his game that was not there last season for the Rays.  His 12 homers this season have come in only 198 at bats for the Rays.

 

         

 

ALDS Opponent

The Rays might not know their opponent in the ALDS until maybe Tuesday because of the make-up game tomorrow between the DEtroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have to win that contest to advance into a one-game playoff for the AL Central division title against the Minnesota Twins.

If the White Sox do lose tomorrow, the Minnesota Twins will be the Rays opponent when they start the divisional series on Thursday at Tropicana Field. If the White Sox win both contests, they will represent the AL Central in St. Petersburg, Florida.

 

Apology

 

For some reason I have a mental block some night and get Ben Zobrist’s name wrong.  I want to send a apology through my  blog that it is not intentional, and I love your mohawk a bit more than Trever Millers’. Zobrist has been on fire lately, and I have smoldered a bit by messing up his name.  I am sorry Ben, and I will try and not let it happen again. 

Rays Score 11 Unanswered Runs Against Orioles

 

 

Rays 11, Orioles 6

 

After tonight’s win lower the number to a level that is obtainable either tomorrow or by Friday at the worst, I got that urge again to see what it might cost to take a flight up to Motown for a celebration with the Rays. I did my usual websites looking for early morning Thursday, or Red Eye flights tonight and found that only 1 flight that might get me to Detroit before the first pitch at 1:05 P.M. 

That flight had me sitting at the airport before 6 A.M. to fly to Atlanta and then sit almost 2 hours before we got back into the seat and arrive at the Detroit/Wayne County Airport at 11:30 A.M. That would give me enough time to drop my bags off at the hotel and then hit Comerica Park in time for the first pitch.  I love the idea of online check-in at airports and hotels nowadays, it makes the baseball day-trip go so much easier. But then again, I can’t go tomorrow, but you can if you have $ 453.00 dollars and a cool boss.

Do not forget that the City of St. Petersburg is setting up a Welcome Home arrival celebration for the Rays at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport on Sunday at 8 P.M. to welcome our guys back to town after their roadtrip and to celebrate the A L East Championship with the homefolks.  That should be a wild night as the Rays will have Monday off before getting back into the swing of things starting Tuesday morning.

 

Rays Magic Number:         

All the Rays need to do is win 1 of their 4 games against the Detroit Tigers and the celebration will begin. This will give the A L East crown to the Rays and send the Red Sox out to L A for the first round of the playoffs ( Boston went 1-8 against the Angels this season).

 

       

 

Edwin Jackson

I am starting to think we need to send a reliever out to start the game and then bring in Edwin Jackson ( 13-11) in the 2nd inning of the ballgame. In his past starts, Jackson has been brilliant after the first couple of innings, but seems to run into trouble early then get things settled down and kicks some butt. That happened to him again last night as he gave up 5-runs on 6 -hits in the 1st inning, then gave up a solo run and 2-hits in the 2nd inning to spot the Orioles a 6-0 score. Even though he spotted the Orioles with a large margin, the Rays rallied several times to put Jackson in line for his 13th win of the season.

Jackson might be pitching his last start of the years as Rays Manager Joe Maddon needs to start setting up his 3 or 4 man rotation for the playoffs now. This might have been a “give me” start by Maddon to reward Jackson who helped reduce the magic number to 1 last week to even be considered for the playoffs. Tonight, it was deja vu all over again as Jackson helped the Rays move the magic number again down to 1, with Scott Kazmir throwing the game tomorrow. Hoefully it is Deja Vu for the Rays, and Rays Clubhouse Manager Chris Westmoreland can get the bubbly cold by the end of the early game.

 

Alot of Hit By Pitches

Coming into this contest, the Rays have seen a abundance of hit batsmen in the last few series. During tonight’s game, the Rays had Evan Longoria plucked in the 4th inning in the stomach, and Longo ended up scoing in the inning to bite the Orioles for the play.

 In the 6th inning, Jason Bartlett got hit for the first of two times today in the knee area. Lucky for the Rays Bartlett had a platic protector on that area becuase of a foul ball hitting the patella earlier in the season. Bartlett also made the Orioles pay for the play by scoing in the inning Then in the 8th inning, the Orioles again hit Bartlett, this time in the hip area and he again scored on the play to frustrate the Orioles.

 

                          

 

2 Superb Innings

The Rays scored 11 unanswered runs in the game starting with  5 runs on 3 hits in the 5th inning. Carlos Pena started by walking on 6 pitches to lead off the inning. Longoria then got hit by a pitch, and Dioner Navarro hit a single into leftfield to load the bases for the Rays with 1 out. Gabe Gross came up with the bases jacked and walked on 6 pitches, scoring Pena on the play. With the bases still loaded, Eric Hinske then hit the first pitch he saw from Orioles starter Radhames Liz to rightfield to score Longoria and leave the bases still loaded for Jason Bartlett.

Bartlett then hit a ball off the hip area of Liz that he could not control and throw in time to get Bartlett. Navarro scored to pull the Rays within 2 runs, 6-4.  Akinora Iwamura then came up and hit a RBI ground out to short that scored Hinske to pull the Rays within a run, 6-5.

 

                              

 

In the 6th inning, Fernando Perez hit a liner to leftfield and stole second base before Bartlett got hit by a pitch for the first time tonight. With men on first and second, Iwamura hit a ball deep into the gap in left center and scored both Perez and Bartlett on a triple. The play put the Rays on top to stay tonight 7-6.

In the 8th inning, Perez got on base again by walking on 5 pitches and stole second again while Bartlett was batting.  Bartlett again was hit by a pitch and the Rays had two men on and no out in the inning. Aki put down a really nice Sacrifice bunt to move Perez and Bartlett into scoring position. B J Upton then walked, and Carlos Pena struck out to give the Rays bases loaded with 2-outs. 

Longoria walked on 5 pitches to score Perez. Cliff Floyd then came up and walked on 6 pitches as the Orioles relievers could not find the plate.  Navarro then came up and hit a liner down the leftfield corner to score 2 runs, but was tagged out at second trying to advance on the play for the 3rd out in the inning. But the Rays were now up 11-6 in the contest. In this inning, the Rays scored 2 runs on a sequence where there were no hits involved.  A hit by pitch, sacrifice bunt, and 4 walks contributed to the big inning.

 

 

Rays on the Basepaths

In this contest, Fernando Perez stole 2 bases and is currently 5-5 on the basepaths this season for the Rays. Iwamura also got a stole second in the first inning after leading off the game with a single to leftfield. It was his 8th stolen base of the season. And B J Upton stole second in the 6th inning for his 43rd stolen base of the year. That currently ranks him 3rd in the AL, one base  behind Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki.

Iwamura hit his 8th triple of the year to move him into 3rd place, 2 behind the Ray’s Carl Crawford in 2nd place in the AL.  B J Upton also got his 13th outfield assist in the bottom of the first inning when he pegged Luke Scott trying to advance to third base on his double for the 1st out in the inning. 

 

 

 And Nick Markakis was thrown out at the plate trying to steal home  on a double steal in the 5th inning of the game. The play started with Aubrey Huff trying to steal 2nd base and Iwamura came up into the grass area behind the mound and cut off the ball to throw it back to Navarro so he could get the sliding Markakis before he touched the plate.  It went into the books as a caught stealing attempt, but it was a brilliant play by both players to prevent a run in the inning.

 

Twins versus White Sox

Sometimes it seems that neither team wants to win the AL Central pennant and maybe face the Rays in the first round of the Playoffs.  The Minnesota Twins again beat the Chicago White Sox to pull within 1/2 of a game of the lead in the division. With 1 more game to be played, the next win might decide the division crown.

The Twins still have 4 games left, with 1 to still play against the White Sox, and a 3-game series at home against the Kansas City Royals. The White Sox have 4 games left to play, including 1 against the Twins, and a 3-game series at home against the Cleveland Indians. in the most probable settings, the winner of this division will start their series away from home at Tropicana Field next week.

 

Odds and Ends

Tonight’s win puts the Rays road record this year at 39-28 going into the 4 games against the Detroit Tigers.  With their 96th win tonightto  have a record of 96-62, the Rays have mirror-imaged their record of 62-96 from 2007. The win also puts the Rays at 4 games over .500 this year. Tonights victory against the Baltimore Orioles was Tampa Bay’s 12th in a row against them, and raises their seasob series record against the Orioles to 15-3 for the year, their best record against any opponent this year.

 

                                 

 

Bullpen Moments

Chad Bradford came on in relief of Jackson in the 6th inning and earned his 21st hold of the season. Bradford pitched 1.1 innings tonight and gave up only 1 hit on 18 pitches in the game. With Ramon Hernandez on first with 1-out, Bradford got Lou Montanez to  hit a ground ball to Iwamura, who tagged out Hernandez for the 2nd out of the inning. 2 pitches later Juan Castro grounded to Iwamura again and he threw to first to end the inning.

Trever Miller came on with 2 outs in the 7th inning and got Huff to strike out on 4 pitches to end the inning. In the 8th inning, Miller got to quick outs including a strikeout by Luke Scott. He then hit Hernandez with a pitch in the side  as an answer to 3 hit batsmen by Oriole’s pitchers tonight. He then got Montanez to strikeout on 5 pitches to end the inning.

In the 9th, Miller gave up a lead-off single to Juan Castro down the leftfield line, then got two quick strikeouts of pinch hitter Alex Cintron and Guillermo Quiroz. He then got Adam Jone to pop out to Iwamura for the last out of the game.  For his effort, Miller collected his 2nd save of the year for the Rays. In his appearance, Miller threw 37 pitches and got 5 strikeouts in his 2.1 innings of work. 

 

 

 

Rays Use Smallball to Beat Twins 11-1

 

 

Rays 11, Twins 1

 

With their backs against the wall now, you know the Minnesota Twins will come out and play the game of their lives today. And to suspect anything else would insane. Both these team are within a cat’s hair of getting into the postseason. The Twins hang by a thread, while the Rays control their own destiny enroute to their first A L East crown. Both these squada will be energized and ready for war when the first pitch is thrown about 3:55 P.M. today.

But you also know that when this game ends, either the Rays will be one of the 8 teams to get into this crazy playoff race, or they will just regroup and do battle tomorrow with it being another “it” day. But I seriously think that today’s game will be the deciding blow for either team. It is on a national stage, being seen in three markets in the country. One being the Tampa Bay region, second being the Minnesota area, and the third is the city of true revolution, Boston. You heard me right, one of the three cities to get today’s game will be beantown.

Funny how that worked out, but it will give the Boston fand another look at why this team is for real, and to watch their new rival play before the Red Sox take the field tonight in Toronto. It is also another time for the Rays to put doubt and serious karma to work on the Red Sox Nation. I am not asking that it be overthrown, or dismantled, just  a little doubt, and a little concern is all I desire here.  And maybe a bead of sweat on the long time Red Sox fan about maybe playing this Rays team again in the playoffs.

 

Rays Magical Number:      9

Combination of Rays wins and Boston losses to secure our first A L East crown.

 

                                

 

Edwin Jackson

Okay, you almost had me worried when you bounced a few during warm-ups Edwin, but thank you for one of the clutch pitching performances of this year. Seriously, you hit the right spots and put the pedal to the metal at the moment that not only the Rays, but the crowd needed last night. To say the outing was a success would be an understatement. You could have beaten any team last night with the way your stuff was breaking. And the fatc that your last pitch of the night was clocked at 98 m.p.h. tell me you still love throwing the heat.

 

Edwin Jackson has finally arrived as a major league pitcher. At a time when he needed a big game for himself and his team he responded with a 7-hit,1-run gem that will be talked about all the way until next Spring. Jackson went  7.2 iinings last night and threw 114 pitches enroute to getting his 12th victory of the year. Jackson also got 5 strikeout on the night for the Rays.  Tonight was his 30th start of the season and was coming into the game 0-3 in September.  With this win, Jackson is on solid ground to try and have his first winning season since he was 2-1 in 2004.

 

             

 

Instant Replay, Part Deux

Again we got to see the magic that is the MLB Control room in New York go to work on give the multi-viewed video of Carlos Pena’s “maybe” 31st homer. Carlos came up in the bottom of the 4th inning against  Boof Bonser and hit a ball high and into the first row of Section 148 in the Trop. Because the fumble fingered fan who tried to catch the ball let it bounce off his digits and back onto the turf, the second base umpire, Gerry Davis, signaled for Fan Interference and put Pena at second base.

 

                                       

 

After  some discussion by all four umpires and some prodding by Rays Manager Joe Maddon, the umpires went into their little cave under the stand beyond the visitor’s dugout to call MLB central command and get the video replays and do some idle chatting. About 5 minutes later, with Pena still standing on second, Gerry Davis came out and signaled homer run and Carlos was finally allowed to finish the home run trot for his 31st homer of the year. 

So the Rays again make Instant Replay history with the first reversal of an on-field call last night. That makes twice this year that ESPN has been in the house and we have had replays. We are only 1-1 on replays this year, but the call was right and baseball can be proud that the system is working as it was envisioned. Now if we can just get the Qwest system to taser the unpires on bad strikezone calls…………or is that asking too much?

 

            

 

Carlos Pena

Pena not only hit  a 3-run homer for his 31st of the season, but he also doubled to right in the 1st inning and scored the second run of the game for the Rays. But he also got a bases loaded walk in the 2nd inning that scored Eric Hinske and put the Rays ahead 5-0 at the time. But it was his blast in the 4th inning that shook and triggered the celebration for Tampa Bay. With Eric Hinske and Akinora Iwamura on base via walks in the inning, Pena hit his monster shot to right that had the celebration delayed a few minutes for further review. But after the unpire’s replay review Pena was able to celebrate his 4-RBI night in style with his team.

 

Gabe Gross

 Gross has gone about his job this year in rightfield without a lot of fanfare. But several times during this game the rightfield faithful cheered and saluted Gross for his contributions in this contest. Gross tipped his cap to the crowd and you could see that smile was a mile long on his face. In this contest Gross went 2-4, with 1 run scored, but set up several Rays runs by advancing the runners in the game.

 

Akinora Iwamura

Here is another guy who just goes about his job with a smile. Aki at one point last night caught a hard liner to second by Jason Kubel for an out and then doubled up Justin Moreneau on the play. All you saw on the video screen was a sheepish grin on Aki’s face as he threw the ball around the infield. In the game, Aki took the second pitch by Twin’s starter, Nick Blackburn and put it into the gap in left centerfield and sprinted around the bases to get his 8th triple of the year.

 Aki ended up scoring on Jason Bartlett’s grounder to short to put the Rays up 1-0.  For the day, Aki was offically 1-2, but his 2 walks in the contest helped him score 4 runs in the game. In the 2nd inning, the Twins intentionally walked him to get to former  Twins’ teammate Bartlett.  Aki ended up scoing in the inning on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly to left. 

 Aki again walked in the 4th and was on base for Pena’s “alleged” blast to right. While the umpires decided the fate of Pen’as ball, Aki was already sitting in the dugout after scoring on the play. In the 6th inning, Aki was safe at first on the first of 2 errors that inning by Twin’s second baseman Alexi Casilla.

 

Entire Team

On the night, the Rays scored 3 runs in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th inning. They also got 2 runs in the 6th inning to finish the scoring for the night. In the contest, every Rays starter but Dioner Navarro got a hit in the game. But we cane give a mulligan to Navarro since he caught and called that great game by Jackson.

People comment that this team is not a team of superstars. I think that is the reason this team is the way it is this season. There are no huge egos or prima donna complexes on the staff. If someone does develop a complex, the leadership of Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena, along with Troy Percival would squash that problem like a bug. This team is a team that depends on every player to work and sweat for 9 innings. And with that aggression comes a price of securing their first post season berth in th club history.

 

 

Yankees Use Long Ball to Beat Rays

 

 

Yankees 8, Rays 4

 

I was chatting with a friend today online and he stated that the Rays might be folding like a cheap deck of cards right now becuase of the young pitching staff and a failure to drive in our guys in scoring position. Both points have a huge amount of merit there. The Rays hit a combined .124  with runners in scoring position in this recent roadtrip. And the young starters did falter in a few areas during their games. But with the also apparent upside of this team still having the best home record in baseball, and the fact that the players trive in fron tof over 25,000 fans, you know the next 7 games will be the total accumylation of this season for the team.

 

I hate to bunch the next seven as the “biggest, most important home stand in the team history.”  We already know that is the fatcs, and the reality is that if the fan base doesn’t come out and stack themselves to the rafters, it sets a huge set of cards into motion. If the owners finally put up a competitive team and people did not come out, who is to blame?  Larry Rothchild?  If the Rays make the playoffs, major league baseball takes over the daily stadium operations. And you know the Trop will be sold out even if they have to find a busload of people to sit in those high seats in the 300 areas.

This last week is the week that the bay area needs to show its support or its want for baseball in this area. It is about civic pride right now more than anything.  For about a month or so, the talking heads of the broadcast monopoly have stressed that the Rays are still not drawing fans to the stadium. But I also see a bulk of that footage showing people wearing green and white Rays gear. So maybe they are showing vintage 2007 footage, but then again, some night it is still a graveyard at the Trop.

But, in the last two home series we have also had a few teams in that do not bode well for traveling fan bases. Toronto is not a hot bed of traveling fans to their away games. And the New York fans have stayed home to relax in their lazyboys and watch the game on TV rather than fight the increasing Rays fanbase hassle. No longer is this the Fenway-South, or Little Bronx. It is Tropicana Field, where the Rays play and other come to lose.

 

                       

 

Edwin Jackson

Everyone knows that I am a huge Jackson fan. And that I am a true believer in his increasing education as a pitcher for the Rays. So it is a big thing when I come out and stress the importance of a win in his next start or give the start to another pitcher. The time is too severe for us to use this opportunity to hope for victory, but know it is within our grasp.

With that in mind, it is disheartening to see that he only lasted  53 pitches and 2 innings today against the Yankees. I could see in the beginning that home plate umpire  Gerry Davis was squeezing his strikezone to tight it was screaming out in horror.  But Jackson did to respond in the right manner. He did not adjust quick enough to set the ball in the right direction, instead he left a few pitches over the plate and his day was drastically changed from that point on.

Edwin did give up two monster homers that not only cost the Rays a chance at the win, but might have put doubt into his next start for the Rays. With David Price and Mitch Talbot, and Jeff Niemann sitting on the bench, do you use your Triple-A studs to get you that win, or rely on Edwin to rebound and put together a few innings before leaving. Jackson has gone 0-3 in his last 3 starts. He has also even his record at 11-11 for the season.

The decision is in hand by the Rays manger, Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach, Jim Hickey. I know they still have a load of respect and admiration for the work he has done to improve this year. But do you pull the plug when you have so much riding on the next 14 days?

 

Jerry Crasnick

I want to take a moment to thank Jerry Crasnick for his awesome article on the Rays. It was a great read, and if you are a true Rays fan, you need to red this article. I am glad people at ESPN like yourself and Peter Gammons are coming out to the Rays defense. I remember a few years ago when Peter was here for the FanFest and he was glowing about the future of this franchsie. He has since been a closet supporter of the good going on here, but has  never doubted the Rays this year. Hopefully you can talk some sense into those mutton-heads on Baseball Tonight to see this for what it is………..great baseball played by a team of confident young players wanting to wi every night.

 

Fernando Perez

How can you measure how much this Ivy league educated guy has been on the bases and at the plate for the Rays this September. Perez came to the plate in the 2nd inning and slammed his first major league homer run to  the rightfield stands and put the Rays back into this game 4-3 at the moment. Considering this guy has been tooling around learning to hit more as a leftie this year at Triple-A is amazing. Considering that he is doing everything possible for this team to take a deeper and more intense look at him next spring is the basis of what the future Rays will be…………hustle, speed andetermination.

 

                                

 

Cliff Floyd

There was an episode in the 2nd inning, right before Perez’s shot that might have made that game more intense and stressful for everyone had Cliff Floyd not gone over and quelled the anger right away. He did what Shelly Duncan did not do, he went over and got with Robinson Cano after accidently smacking him in the side of the head on his slide attempt on Sunday. He made sure that Cano knew it was an accidental move and not a premeditated thing that could have festered into an on-field altercation. But then again, that is the class that Floyd shows every night on the diamond.

 

                                 

 

David Price

Has there been another pitcher in the last few years for the Rays that has gotten the kind of press and accolades that David Price has gotten for the Rays. Price was selected at the Minor League Player of the Year last week and is celebrating it a the major league level with the Rays.  Price got to the stadium on Saturday and did not know in what measures the Rays would use him this month.

But since Jackson could not  complete his game on Sunday, Price was put into the game as a long reliever to try and hold the Yankees offense to a minimum so the Rays could mount a comeback. Price came in an immediately got the Yankees attention by sending down the batter in order in the 3rd and 4th innings. For his 5.3 inning, Price recorded 4 strikeouts.

But Price is also going to be a footnote in the career bio for Derek Jeter. Price put a slow slider off the plate that Jeter hit into the rightfield bleachers for his 12,69th hit in Yankee Stadium. That hit put him into a tie with the Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig for the Yankee All-Time hit Lead at the stadium. After that little hiccup, he put the Yankees down in order in the inning.

 

RISP

Again the issue of getting hits with runners in scoring position came out to bite the Rays today. In the 6th inning, Perez came up for the thrid time in the game with at least 2 men on base. He did walk in that inning,but Jasob Bartlett following him hit a strong dipping liner that was caught for the 3rd out of the inning. The Rays left 10 men on base in the game, and 5 times left men in scoring position with 2 outs.

 

Late Inning

After the 6th inning in todays’ game, the Rays only mounted one serious attack on the Yankees to try and win this contest. In the 7th inning, Willy aybar hit a single with 2 outs to try and put pressure on the Yankees’ bullpen. But he was left stranded on first after a long ball hit by Dioner Navarro to centerfield for the last out.  In the 8th inning, the Rays went down in order, with the last two outs being long fly balls into centerfield.

In the 9th inning, Akinora Iwamura started the inning by walking on 7 pitches, before Jason Bartlett hit a fly out to right and Carlos Pena struck out for the third time today. With 2 outs, Evan Longoria hit a single up the middle and gave the Rays a chance in the inning. But Aybar struck out to end the game and the Rays chances to come back home more than a single game up over the Boston Red Sox.

 

Cliff Floyd,Part Deux

 

Cliff Floyd had a great day at the plate for the Rays. Floyd went 2-3, with 2 doubles to set the pace for the Rays. Floyd has been leading by example on this roadtrip and has begun to set the bar high for his fellow Rays batters. Considering Floyd has been in these September pennant fever runs before can only be benefical to the Rayd down the stretch.  All the young Rays have to do is listen and learn from Big Cliff and the team will come out fine in the long run.

 

                             

 

Non-Web Gems

 

I have to make a comment here. What was Carlos Pena thinking when he went over for a pop-up in front of the mound and smack the ball out of Longoria’s glove for a sure out. I have to give kudos to David Price for getting away from the situation and letting his infielders’ have a crack at it, but  Longoria clearly had the rights and the ball before it was dislodged out of his mitt by his collision with Pena.

The third baseman should have the right to catch a ball hit to his side of the mound. But some peole say that Price needs to play traffic cop and tell someone to take the ball. either way, it was an embarrassing play ans one that went for a double for Cody Ransom. Pena was given an eror on the play, only his 2nd error of the year

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. 

 

 

Boston versus Rays Pregame Statistics for Game 1

Rays Versus Boston………..Game 1 statistics

 
 
This is not to say that this Boston series will be the most important series thae Rays will play the rest of the season. But, this series can set the tone for the rest of the year, and for the next re-match at the Trop in 10 days time. This series have a huge amount of weight on the side of Boston and Fenway Park, but the Rays have won in a few hostile enviorments this year.
 
Coming into tonight’s game, the Red Sox have a chance to set a new MLB consecutive sell-out mark with their 456 sold out event since May 15th, 2003. They will pass the previous record held by the Cleveland Indians at 7:05 P.M. tonight. The overall major sports sellout record is still a distance off for the Red Sox. The Portland Trailblazers of the NBA sold out 744 straight games from 1977-1995.
 
To say that Rays starter Edwin Jackson will be pitching in the game of his life is a true understatement here. Jackson, who is  11-9 is pitching in one of the most important games of the Rays season tonight.  Right now the seasonal series is deadlocked at 6-6, with each team winning the homestand games coming into tonight’s contest. The Rays have not played the Red Sox since they swept them at the Trop from June 29th-July 2, 2008.
 
The Rays come into Fenway having lost their last 8 stright games since September 10th, 2007. On that night, Scott Kazmir defeated Curt Shilling 1-0 for the last Rays win in Fenway Park. The 8 game losing streak matched the Rays prevoius record at Fenway set from July 19, 2005 to April 19, 2006. The Rays have been outscored 45-16 in their 6 losses at Fenway this season. This is also the 30th series against Boston at Fenway, and the Rays have only won 2 series in that time period, both in 1999. The Rays are currently on a 25 series losing streak against the Red Sox at home (0-21-4).
 
 
             Jon Lester is currently 13-5, with a 3.35 ERA for the Red Sox. Against the Rays this season, he is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA. He has allowed only 2 earned runs in the last 12.1 innings against the Rays.  And in his carreer, Lester is 3-0 with a 4.11 ERA with 16 ER in 35 innings against Tampa Bay. He is undefeated in his last 6 starts against the Rays, and had won the last 2 straight starts against them. In his last 4 starts against Tampa Bay, Lester is 3-0 with a 4.64 ERA and 11 ER in 21.1 innings.
 
Akinora Iwamura has gone 3-14 against Lester with 1 homer this season.
B J Upton has gone 4-16 against him with 1 homer.
Carlos Pena is batting .333 against Lester with 2 homers and 2 strikeouts.
Cliff Floyd is 0-2 against him, with 2 strikeouts.
Willy Aybar is 2-3 against Lester, with 2 doubles and a run scored against him.
Eric Hinske is 0-3 against him this season.
Dioner Navarro is 1-3 with 1 strikeout against him this year.
Jason Bartlett is batting .400 against him this season, with 1 strikeout.
 
 
 
                  Edwin Jackson is currently 11-9, with a 4.07 ERA for the Rays. In his 3 starts against the Red Sox this season, Jackson is 0-2, with a 6.19 ERA. Red Sox opponents are hitting .308 against him this year. He is 0-3 lifetime at Fenway Park with a 8.18 ERA in 5 (4 starts) career appearances. The Last time faced the Red Sox was on June 4, 2008 in Fenway and lost a 5-1 decision to John Beckett.
 
But recently Jackson has been pitching better than he has his entire career for the Rays. His road 3.16 ERA is the 9th best in the AL this season, and he is 6-3 on the road this year for the Rays.  In fact, he has pitched to a 2.99 ERA since July 1st, the 2nd best road ERA in the AL, just behind Cleveland’s Cliff Lee.  And he has allowed 1 Earned Runs or less in 11 starts this season.
 
Coco Crisp  has hit .357 against Jackson, with 1 RBI.
Jacob Ellsbury has hit .429, with 3 RBI’s ans 2 runs scored.
Mike Lowell has batted .278, with a double and a strikeout against Jackson.
David Ortiz has hit .455, with an RBI against Jackson.
Dustin Pedroria is hitting .364, with 3 RBI’s and a double and a strikeout.
Jason Varitek is hitting .154 with 2 strikeouts against Jackson.
Kevin Youkilis is hitting .143, with 2 strikeouts and a run scored against Jackson.
Jason Bay is  hitting .200 against Jackson.
Sean Casey is hitting .142 against Jackson.
 
 
This is a “MUST WIN” situation for the Rays to keep Boston at least 2 back in the standings. If the Rays can take this series, they can leave Boston with a minimum of a 2 1/2 game lead going into the Bronx against the Yankees. But I truly think the division will be decided in the Trop. with the 3 game there next Mon-Wed. But this series could take alot of the excitement out of that homestand if the Red Sox again sweep the Rays at home.
 
 
 
 

Instant Controversy Dooms Rays

 

Yankees 8, Rays 4

 

I am going to lead with this today to get this off my chest and out of my system.  I have replayed that video so many times that ESPN has prompted me to stop becuase it is tying up valuable  Internet traffic space. I have used the slow motion, the isolated and the paused shot of the ball hitting the “D” ring about 3 feet to the left of it( which makes it foul).

Now that I know the ball hit in foul territory, did it go over the foul pole, or to it’s right on the path from home plate. The reactions from three different people can tell the tale of the tape here. Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, of course, would want it to be foul. As he saw it, the ball clearly hit the back ring in foul territory. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez wants it to be fair because it makes him the lone holder of 12th place All Time on the home run list, finally pushing ex-Phille Mike Schmidt to the sidelines. 

 

     

                                                                                                             

And then you have the home plate umpire, Greg Gibson who knew we had the technology now to view it and make a correct call, asked for an umpires conference. Crew Chief  Charlie Reliford decided to wander into the replay alcove and call MLB/ NYC Central and get the final video review and to post their findings. After 2 1/4 minutes, the umpires came out and Gibson immediately signaled a home run for A-Rod.

 

                                                         

 

I do not agree with the call, I think the ball did slice to the left of the foul pole above it’s highest point, but I am of this decision not as a Rays’ fan, but as a guy who wants them to get it right finally. In this game there were 4 different calls either at the plate or at first base that did not flow right. I heard the commentary of the radio crew on the replay and on the suspected plays on the diamond and know that they were botched calls.

But perception is key here. At what angle do you take as being true in the replay. The uppper deck  video camera on the first base side set about 50 feet to the right of the pole, or the thrid base side camera in the upperdeck that is set about 15 feet to the right of the poles’ center.

I will just leave it up to everyone to form their own opinions. I am just glad the play did not decide the game….that would have been a true crime story.

Here is the video from ESPN:

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?categoryId=2378529&brand=null&videoId=3568472&n8pe6c=2

 

 

Yankees 8, Rays 4

 

 

 

 

It is finally coming out to light that B J Upton’s shoulder has been bothering him most of the second half of the season. If you sat where I do and watch his swings and his posture at the plate you can tell that he is shifting his weight to compensate for something. I am glad that he finally came clean with the information and that we now know that Upton is doing more for pain management than just going through the motions at the plate.

Upton again came up big for the Rays last night going 2-5 with 33rd double and his 41st stolen base after a single to left in the 5th inning. His 41st stolen base moves him into second place in the AL, just three behind Boston’s Jacob Ellsbury.  His double also moves him into a tie for 15th in the AL in that category. Also with his 40th steal on Sunday, Upton became only  Ray, besides Crawford to reach the 40 steal plateau in a season.

 

 

               

 

Eric Hinske’s dive for Robinson Cano’s blooper single to left would not have been an error in any fashion. The ball was tailing away from Hinske when he left his feet, and he made a galliant effort to even get the ball within his body to keeo Cano from extra bases. Hinske’s hustle this season while Carl Crawford has been on the DL is a welcome sight. His bat is superior to Crawford’s right now, but his outfield defense is below par for the Rays’ expectations right now.

 

Speaking of expected and undetected errors, the Rays were very lucky the official scorer did not dot the scorebaord with at least 3 errors in last night’s contest. The play of the Rays infield defense last night was not in accordance to their usual stellar performance.

Third baseman Willy Aybar seemed to be playing about 15 feet farther back tonight in the game and cost the Rays at least two outs on the night. In the 3rd inning, Robinson Cano hit a liner to Aybar that he fumbled with and did not get to Carlos Pena in time for the out.

In the 4th inning, Johnny Damon got on base after a botched play by Jason Bartlett at shortstop. To give Bartlett credit, that ball did take a nasty hop in front of him, but he regained the ball in time to get Damon, but could not execute the play.  The next batter, Derek Jeter got another infield single on a well hit ball hit to Aybar that did not reach Pena in time to catch Jeter. Again, Aybar was playing behind the bag at third and did not come up and attack the ball to imporve his chances of getting Jeter at first base.

In another play in the 4th inning, Carlos Pena knocked down a Jason Giambi ball and started a 3-6-2 double play. The ball reached second in time to get Alex Rodriguez, but first base umpire ruled Giambi safe at first after Rays reliever Chad Bradford apparently dragged his foot off the bag at first. This inning gave the Yankees 3 more outs to play with, and they made the Rays pay with another un to up the score to 6-1.

 

Lost in all the drama of the replay and miscues by the Rays defense in this game was the hitting of the Rays tonight. In the 1st inning B J Upton doubled for the first Rays’ hit of the night.  Cliff Floyd then came up and hit a ball into the right center gap for a double and scored Upton to put the Rays up early 1-0. On the play, Floyd looked like he wanted to turn the play into a triple, but his knees let him know that a double would be fine. Floyd now has a team high 9 RBI’s on this homestand, all of them coming in the last 4 games.  Since moving into the cleanup spot for the Rays, Floyd is hitting .308, with 2 homers, 12 RBI’s and a .590 Slugging Percentage.

 

 

                                   

 

Rays starter Edwin Jackson did not last 4 innings last night in the game against the Yankees. It was by far the worst showing for Jackson in 2009. Jackson actually lasted 3.1 innings for the Rays giving up 6 runs on 10 hits while throwing only 70 pitches on the night. The strike zone seemed to be squeezed for Jackson early in the game, but he produced  2 quick strikeouts in the 1st inning.

 

The Yankees began to get to Jackson in the 2nd inning when Robinson Cano hit the ball to Hinske in the left and scored Xavier Nady who had  walked earlier in the inning. Ivan Rodriguez then hit a short popper down the first baseline that hit inside fair territory before bouncing into the foul area behind first base. Cano scored on the play, and Rodriguez was standing at seocnd with another double to put the Yankees up 2-1.

In the 3rd inning, Bobby Abreu doubled to left and was in scoring position for A-Rod when he hit his double and Abreu scored on the play. With Rodriquez at second, Jason Giambi came up and doubled to the deep left center gap that scored Rodriguez.  Hideki Matsui then hit a single to center that scored Giambi and put the Yankees up 5-1. 

Coming into the game, Jackson had decreased his ERA to 3.81, the lowest since May 29th.  Jackson was also riuding a August that saw him go 4-1 with 2.27 ERA, it was the best ERA on the staff in August, and 6th best in the AL.  Jackson needed 5 inning to match his career high of 161 innings pitches set in 2008.

 

 

Gabe Gross provided one of the games best highlights for the Rays on his 2-run homer in the 4th inning. The homer brought the Rays to within 3 runs at the moment. It was Gross’s 12th homer of the season. Dioner Navarro scored on the play after getting double to deep center to be in scoring position for Gross.

Gross is hitting .313 over his last 11 games, and hit a robust .283 for August. Gross’s 12th homer is also his career high in the majors. His previous high was 9 homers with the Brewers in 2006. Gross was not done for the night as he walked in the 9th inning on 4 pitches and then scored on Akinora Iwamuras double to left field.

 

 

 

 

Baldelli Shows Nation How the Rays Win

 

Rays 10, Orioles 9
 
 
I attended our last  Maddon’s Maniacs’ meeting today before the 3:30 PM contest. Rich Herrera, the Rays pre and post-game host was the master of cermonies today. He made a  a reference to us “old timers”, who have been here during the lean wins season as the wily veterans who can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. And how we can boast that we are the group of fans who can now say we supported the first winning team in Rays’ history.
 
He also remarked on how the Maddon’s Maniacs first meeting there wer only 30 of us, and of today, there are over 560 Maniacs strolling through the Trop during game days. It has been quite a ride this season, and to show their appreciation for everything, the Rays’ put a sticker of our club;s symbol on the back wall of section 132 for all to see. The cartoon redition of “screamer” with Joe Maddon glasses can be seen by everyone in the ballpark now, and we can share our stories with the masses.
 
Rays skipper, Joe Maddon came out and chatted with us for a while and answered questions from the crowd. In the background you could see Evan Longoria doing some soft toss near the durgout, and several of the Bullpen pitchers out warming up in the outfield. Eric Hinske then came up and talked a bit about how our noise and enthusiasm filters down to them and gets them motivated during the game.
After all that, we got to toy with a few new chants to be sung during the Rays’ games. I will put the two chants in the blog tomorrow night so we all can practice them on Monday’s day off and be ready for the Yankees when they invade the Trop.
 
Rays 10, Orioles 9
 
 
 
                          Rocco Baldelli gets the shaving cream pie treatment after driving in the winning run in the ninth.  (AP)
 
 
Oh Rocco Baldelli, you had your coming out party again tonight to show the national audienceon FOX that you are back and will be a force in the lineup again.  For the day, Rocco went 2-3, with 2 RBI’s and a run scored. But it was his hit in the bottom of the 9th on a 1-0 pitch that made us cheer for you again and again today.
 
Rocco hit a blistering ball past former Ray Aubrey Huff and into the leftfield corner to score Carlos Pena from first and secure the win for the Rays. Rocco also singled and scored in the 5th inning. Rocco has now made 6 starts since his August 10th reinstatement and has hit safely in 5 of those games. Baldelli increased his avewrage to .294 with today’s offensive outburst.
 
 
 
 
The Rays did  have some close plays at the plate today that could have made the score more in their favor. In the 5th inning, Dioner Navarro was trying to score from second on a Jason Bartlett single to center. Jay Payton took the ball and fired a strike to Ramon Hernandez at home. Navarro tried to sneak his hand in the backdoor, but Hernandez quicky tagged Navarro on the shoulder for the out. Payton recieved an outfield assist on the play.
 
Not to be outgunned, the Rays also had a chance to nail a runner at the plate today. Nick Markakis tried to score from second on a Hernandez single to center. B J Upton came up with the ball cleanly and fired a low strike to the plate to nail Markakis. Upton received his 11th outfield assist of the season on the play.
 
 
 
                                     
 
 
Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine was going for his second attempt to get  a franchise tying 14th win on the season. Sonnanstine did not factor into the victory, but pitched 3.1 innings and gave up 7-hits and 6-runs early to the Orioles. Sonnanstine seemed to have trouble getting the good placement over the plate on his pitches. Andy got into early trouble giving up a 1st inning homer to Jay Payton to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Sonnastine gave up 2 homers on the day to the Orioles.
 
After Brian Roberts walked on  4 pitches, Sonnanstine got Payton to strike out before giving up a ground rule double to Markakis. Aunbrey Huff then hit his 30th homer to rightfield to put the Orioles up 5-3.
 
The play involving Markakis was almost the first reviewed call this year. Markakis hit a ball that was heading for the right field wall when a fan reached over and tried to catch the ball a few feet into and under the yellow home run line. Second base umpire Chad Fairchild took a few seconds before signalling a ground rule double. The fan did reach into the field of play and hinder the path of the ball. It was a good call, and one that could have fallen uner the guidelines to be reviewed by the umpire crew chief. 
 
 
                      
 
 
Not lost in thsuffle of today’s game was the contribution in the bottom of the 9th innig by Carlos Pena. Pena walked on 6 pitches and was on the move the second the ball went past Huff into the left field corner. Pena was at full speed when he got to third and third base coach Tom Foley did not hesistate to send Pena home. The throw to the plate by Orioles’ rookie Lou Montanez was not close and was falling away from Hernandez as Pena reached the plate.
 
 
 
                  
 
 
 The Rays slugged 13 hits on the day, and  walked 9 times in the game.  Ohter Rays to come up big today were: Akinora Iwamura who went 3-5, with 3 runs scored today. Willy Aybar who went 2-4, and Jason Bartlett who went 2-5, with a run scored. Ben Zorbrist went hitless today, but got on base twice via walks and had a run and an RBI on the day.
 
 
On the day, the Rays left 14 men on base and  7 men in scoring position. This is a statistic the Rays will need to work on before the playoffs start in October. When the playoff traditionally start, the runs  are harder to come by, and are earned at a slower pace. For that reason, the Rays will have to begin to use their speed and quick bats to get “National League” style runs by using the hit-and -run, and maybe a suicide squueze.  But then again, a well placed homer never hurts either.
 
 
 
Dan Wheeler blew his 3rd blown save of the year. On the positive side, Wheeler got the win to improve to 3-5. Wheeler was going for his 11th save of the year, which would have tied him for his career high set in Houston before his trade to the Rays.  Opponents are battling .173 against him this season.

Rocco Helps Rays beat White Sox

 

 

 

Rays 9, White Sox 4

 

 

I always look forward to the Chicago White Sox and Rays series during the year. White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen always has a few surprises in his oral comments, and usually has a few up his sleeves for the Rays on the basepaths.

 

And in this series, Ozzie did something I thought would not happen, he was actually commenting positive about the Rays upward climb through the league. Guillen finished his playing career as a Tampa Bay Devilray. He then went into coaching in the minors before getting his shot with the White Sox.

 

Guillen has always been counted on for saying his mind and not worrying about the backlash or the pitfalls. you got to respect a guy for not being afraid of even the MLB office when you comment that “I do throws at guys,” pertaining to the plucking of batters by pitching staffs throughout the league. Such a vocal hurricane can get you in a mountain of trouble with the league and even your own team management. But Guillen plays it all off as part of the game, and if they are that sensitive, they should find another line of work.  Gotta love Ozzie!

 

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Edwin Jackson is showing more and more ever start that he can be the pitcher the Rays can depend on come playoff time. Jackson got his 10th win of the season Friday night by throwing 97 pitches over 6 innings and leaving the game with the Rays up 3-2.

 

Jackson can attribute his new found success to his late breaking slider that has become a great weapon to catch AL batters’ off guard this season. On the night, Jackson was determined to make as many first pitch strikes as possible to put the White Sox batters’ in an early hole.  This was the third time this season that Jon Danks and Jackson have toed the mound against each other, with Danks winning 2 out of 3 against Jackson.

 

 

Edwin got in trouble in the bottom of the 4th inning as Ken Griffey Jr. got a lead-off single to leftfield for the Sox.  Nick Swisher then came up and hit a  2-run homer on a 3-2 count to put the White Sox up early 2-0. 

 

 

In the 4th inning, Rays Manager, Joe Maddon saw something in the way the baserunners were leaning and called two straight pitchouts on Juan Uribe and Orlando Cabrera to record two straight putouts at second base. The  caught stealing calls erased a single by Uribe and a walk to Cabrera to smother the White Sox threat.

  

 

The Rays tried to get a lead early in the 2nd inning, but Rocco Baldelli was tagged out by Danks at home.  Baldelli got walked by Danks and advanced on Willy Aybar broken bat hit to left. Baldelli tried to score on Ben Zobrists’ short grounder in front of the plate, in which Danks tagged Baldelli out at home.

  

 

Dioner Navarro then hit a sacrifice fly to left, and Aybar was also tagged out at home by A J Pierzenski to end the 2nd inning. In the 5th inning, the Rays finally  put a run across the plate when Akinora Iwamura hit a triple that 1-hopped to the  leftfield  wall and Navarro came in to put the Rays on the board.

  

 

In the 6th inning, Carlos Pena hit his 26th homer on a 3-2 count to center to tie the score 2-2. The homer was only the 12th homer given up by Danks this season. In the 7th inning, Navarro lead off with a double down the leftfield line, and then scored on Jason Bartlett’s 1-hop double to leftcenter. At that point, Danks had thrown 100 pitches and he was replaced by Guillen.

 

In the 8th inning, the Rays exploded for 3 runs against the White Sox relievers. Rocco Baldelli started the scoring with his first homer since May 3, 2007 to the leftfield bleachers. Baldelli hit a 0-1 pitch off   White Sox reliever Matt Thorton for his first of the year. Willy Aybar hit a ball off the leftfield wall to end up at second base with Zobrist at the plate.

 

Zobrist then connected on  a 2-run homer to complete the Rays scoring in the inning. In the 9th inning, the Rays again put up 3 runs as B J Upton lead off the inning with his third walk of the night. Upton then beat out a pick-off play by the White Sox when Nick Swisher tried to go across BJ’s body to get the throw to first base. Swisher’s throw did not get Upton at second base in time.

  

 Upton then  came around to score on Pena’s blast into the rightfield corner that bounced away from Jermain Dye and put the Rays up 7-4. Baldelli then came up and hit an RBI single that scored Pena. Baldelli ended up coming around and scoring on Zobrists’ single to leftfield.

 

 

The win gave the Rays the best record in baseball at 78-49 on the year. It was also a memorible night for Joe Maddon who tied Rays’ ex-Manager, Larry Rothchild for overall team victories.  Maddon now has 205 wins as the Rays skipper and will be going for the all time lead tomorrow afternoon against the White Sox. The win also help give the Rays a leg up as they are going for their first series win at U S Cellular Field since April 1998.

 

 

Coming into this series, White Sox starting catcher AJ Pierzynski has allowed 80 stolen bases this season. That is second worst in the AL this year.

 

 

Rays reliever J P Howell had a bad night in Chicago giving up 2 runs on 1 hit and letting the Sox back into the game at the time 6-4. Howell has been alsmost automatic at times this season, but seemed to be struggling with his off speed pitches against the White Sox. At one point, it seemed that the Sox were waiting on Howell’s slider and setting up for it. Howell pitched one inning for the Rays before leaving the game.

 

 

Jason Hammel then came on to pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning and got the White Sox 1-2-3 to end the game for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angels 5, Rays 4

 

 

People were wondering where Rusty, our faithful Rays announcer was last homestand. Well, he was nestled in a homey enviorment up in Minnesota getting ready to get married. Rusty missed the LL Cool J concert series because of his impending nuptuals and recently return to his duties at the Trop.  So be sure to send Rusty your well wishes the next time you see him at the Trop.

The Rays’ finally sent their invoices out for the Post Season ticket prices to Season Ticketholders. And from the opinions I have heard, the Rays might not get the positive results they wish for…… I know that Section 138 and the Lower Baseline area is going to cost just under $1,000 for the 11 game package.

I actually think this is pretty reasonable, but the 3 week window to have the entire amount into the Rays coffers might be a sticking point for myself and some other people.  I know if the Rays have an unfortunate early withdrawl from playoff contention, the entire left over amonut will be credited to my 2009 account balance.

That is fine and dandy to me, but 3 weeks is an odd number of time to get that much scratch up to pay in time to prevent my ticket location from going public, or being offered to another person. I can see maybe having the money in by the last home game/ series against the Twins. That would give most people about a month to roll those quarters and pennies up and deposit them in the Rays accounts.

If the Rays tick to that solid Sept 12th date, you might just see my seat empty of my face, but you know someone will pay the upwards of 175 dollar for that seat during the World Series.

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There have been some pretty odd happenings around the diamond during this series, and they continued tonight in the Rays 5-4 loss to the Angels. On a hard hit ball up the middle that Aki Iwamura had to backhand and slap down to prevent more  Angel runs, it was scored an error on the second baseman. Anyone who saw the play could see that with his back to first base he would have never gotten a play off to the bag. For that reason alone, it should have been a hit registered and not an error.

Also during a play at first base, the television replay showed that Carlos Pena did not drop the ball, and got Chone Figgans out by a half a step. But unpire Crew Chief Gary Darling missed the play and called the runner safe on the play. Figgans again got another huge break from the unpiring crew when he was awarded third base on a double steal and the replay showed he was tagged even before his lead hand got near the bag by Willy Aybar. Two mistake that ended up being a Angels run in the inning. And might have been the difference in the ballgame.

 

 

 

 

Rays starter Matt Garza went into tonight’s game as 1 of 9 pitchers in the majors with  at least 2 shutouts. He also owns 3 of the Rays total 7 complete games this season. And he is one of the Rays’ current starters who has reached the 10 win plateau this season.  And tonight’s game was only the second start of Garza’s career against the Angels.

Garza had two uneventful innings before the Angels threatned in the 3rd inning.  During the 3rd inning the Angels erupted by three straight hits, two of them extra bases to post a 4-3 lead on the Rays. Garza gave up 7 hits on the night, 4 of those in the 3rd inning. Matt also fanned  7 batters on the night and had great command again on the mound after the 3rd inning.

 

 

 

 

What was visible to the fans was the frustration level Garza outwardly showed during the 3rd inning. He seemed to be particularly annoyed when he walked Erik Aybar, and took at least 1 inning to compose himself fully before regaining his control on the mound.

Another play where the ball was hit back towards Garza was spining away from hgim and he could not make a play on the ball.  Garza has come a long way this year to establish himself as one of the Rays’ pitchers with the most upside to his development this year. Tonight was just a short interlude of problems in a long career for the righty.

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s game was telecasted on ESPN as their featured game of the night. It was a hard fought contest that should go down as to how far the Rays have matured and progressed in the last year. This is a showcase for the Rays to show the rest of the nation that the Red Sox and the Yankees no longer own the rights to playoff berths in the AL East. This year, the playoff go through Tampa Bay.

The Rays got to Angel’s starter Jered Weaver early last night, but could not rattle him enbough to send him to the bench early in the contest. In the 2nd inning, Eric Hinske singled to right and stole second to put himself in scoring position. Gabe Gross came up next and hit a screamer to right field that scored Hinske from second. Gross ended up on second after the Angels throw came back to the plate. With Gross in scoring position, Shawn Riggans hit a single to score Gross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then with Riggans in scoring position, Jason Bartlett hit a ball into the left center gap that fell between Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera for a triple. Bartlett might have had a chance for an inside the park homer, but stumbled coming out of the batters’ box on the play.

On the night. the  Rays’ 6-7-8-9- batters went 6-14 on the night, with Gross and Hinske both going 2-2 in the contest.  The bottom of the Rays lineup accounted for 3 of the 4 runs scored by the Rays. In the last few weeks, this section of the batting order has been tremedous for the Rays. They have been more productive and been in scoring position a majority of the time for the team.

 

In the 8th inning, the Rays produced two straight doubles to produce their last run of the ballgame. B J Upton took a 1-1 pitch and hit a liner to left for the first Rays double. Carlos Pena came up next and hit a ground ball double to left to score Upton from econd base and tie the score at 4-4.

 

 

Grant Balfour has always been known as a confidient and aggressive pitcher in the majors. It is widely known that he a hardnosed pitcher who will put the ball in on guys to get the outs needed to be a sucessful reliever. Balfour did run into a bit of trouble in the top of the 9th inning. He led off by waling Chone Figgans on 4 pitches, then got Erik Aybar to commit a fly ball bunt to third that his brother Willy had no problem handling for the first out of the inning.

From there on, the inning got more interesting for Balfour.  He gave up a fastball single to Mark Teixeira that moved Figgans into scoring position. Balfour was replaced by Chad Bradford, but was responsible for both runners on base.

On the Bradford’s first pitch of the inning, the Angels committed a double steal. This was the controversial steal of thrid by Figgans’ that showed on the replays that he was out by at least a foot. This put the leading runner on third with 1 out. The Rays then decided to intentionally walk Vladimir Guererro to load the bases with Torii Hunter coming to the plate.

Hunter hit into a fielders’ choice to third and Figgans was thrown out on the force play at the plate by Aybar.  Garrett Anderson then came up and reached on the apparent error play by Aki at second base. Teixiera came in to score and put the Angels up 5-4. With Balfour still responsible for Teixeira, he was awarded the loss in the game.

 

 

The Rays will be off on Thursday and traveling to the south side of Chicago for a weekend series against the AL Central leading White Sox.  Edwin Jackson will be the starting pitcher for the Rays on the Friday night contest and is riding a recent winnning streak on the mound.

Jon Danks will be the srating pitcher for the White Sox. If you remember the home series against the White Sox this year, Danks handcuffed the Rays’ batter in his start, and should again pose a threat to the Rays trying to finally become a .500 team on the road on Friday night. The Rays are currently 2 games under .500 on the road this series.

With a series sweep against the White Sox this weekend, the Rays would come back to the Trop only 1 game over .500 next Tueday. This would be great for the morale and confidience of the Rays before they hit the road after the next 9-game homestand to have 9 game roadtrip against only AL East foes before the last homestand ( 7Games) of the year.

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