Results tagged ‘ Eric Hinske ’

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.

 

 

 

 

Zobrist, Floyd Help Rays Reach Historic Milestone

 

Rays 14, Orioles 3
 
 
Every fan that has been here since the first days of the Rays can finally give out a collective sign of relief that we are a offical winning team in the MLB now. For years we have began the post-All Star period with visions of a 82 win season, but now we can yell, scream, and toast the victories with a sweeter taste in our mouths. Not since Wade Boggs took that 3,000 hit into the right field seats have we had this much to celebrate here in Tampa Bay.
 
 
Plus, with the Rays victory, I am also celebrating the launch of my website on www.raysrenagade.com starting today. This site will be a sister site to my posting on MLBogs.com. So you can either visit me here, or go to my new site, but look out for the construction mess. I am new at the website biz, and I have alot of content and borders, widgets, and assorted mish-mosh before it  is how I want it for all of the Tampa Bay Rays faithful.
 
 
So be patient with me and I will get this looking like a well shined Ferrari at the beach in no time.
 
 
Rays 14, Orioles 3
 
 
                                          
 
Tell me that was not the wildest sight of Oriole’s catcher Ramon Hernadez going after home plate umpire Sam Holbrook in the 4th inning. I have seen a few catchers go nuts usually after an inning, but after another walk was issued to the Rays by Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, Hernandez was quick to rise and go face-to-face with Holbrook before being tossed out for his verbal arguments. I know alot of fans could not understand what happened, so I wanted to make sure the masses’ knew the real story here.
 
 
                     
 
The Rays had a bevy of great plays on the night to secure one of their biggest margins of victory, 14-3 last night at the Trop. Akinora Iwamura lead off the game with a triple on a 2-2- count that bounced and spun in the right field corner in front of Nick Markakis before he got the handle on the ball and threw it back into the infield. Aki did not score on the play because he was in a rundown between third and home after B J Upton hit a soft grounder to short. Aki ended up going 2-3 on the night, also with 2 walks  and score 3 runs for the Rays.
 
 
 
 
Scott Kazmir earned his 10th victory of the season tonight and did finds himself in trouble again with a high pitch count early in the ballgame. Kazmir threw 102 pitches in 5.2 innings of work for the Rays. Scott posted a 3-hit shutout tonight and lowered his ERA to 3.13 for the year.
 
 
I am not sure why Kazmir gets into his extended pitch counts this season. He is pitching the same as in recent years, but maybe other teams are seeing a pattern to Kazmir and laying off his pitches and being patient knowing that Scott will put the ball over the plate. It is a concern because it takes a great pitcher out of the game early and you lose his effectiveness against certain hitters later in the game.
 
 
                  
 
I am starting to think that Brian Anderson, who filled in for Joe Magrane when he was in NY for the USA Baseball telecasts is right. Ben Zobrist has seen enough of Durham and wants to stay here.  The guy has been “Mr Clutch” since coming up because of injury several times this year. He is the switch-hitter that could help the Rays tremediously in the coming month with pitching situations and to get some of our tired guys a breather before the playoffs.
 
 
But tonight, Zo-rilla, as Rays Manager Joe Maddon calls him, hit his first career Grand Slam to put alot of distance between the Rays and Orioles tonight. This is the first time ever that Zobrist has hit the monster of all homers in his youth and professional career. And he picked a historical time to do it for the Rays. People will remember for years this night for it’s 82nd win, but they will also remember that Zobrist hit a monster  on the first pitch he saw in the  4th inning to preserve it for the Rays.
 
                          
 
 
Overshadowed a bit tonight was the great performance of B J Upton, who went 3-5 tonight with 3 runs scored and an RBI.  Upton also got his 39th stolen base tonight and is tied with Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki for 2nd in the AL stolen base race. Carlos Pena also had a historical night as he walked the first 3 times up tonight and got an RBI single in the 6th inning.
 
 
Lost in th collective shuffle tonight was Gabe Gross’s 11th homer of the season. Gross, who also went 3-4 on the night, hit 2 singles in addition to his solo shot in the 4th inning.  Every Rays player, except for Eric Hinske got a base hit in this game. Hinske was not shut out tho, getting a walk in the 4th inning and scoring on Zorbrists’ grand slam.
 
 
                                          
 
 
Another Ray who will have a huge night to remember was Cliff Floyd. Not because of the foul ball he hit to me in the right field Bullpen area, but  for his 3-4 night that included 2 doubles and a total of 5 RBI’s on the night.
 
 
Floyd is certainly showing the way as a Rays veteran this year by hitting by example and running like he was still 25 years old on the basepaths. It is a real joy to watch this guy lumber on to second base and come up with a grin from ear-to-ear after the play.  We really found a rare diamond in the rough with him in the clubhouse this season. Because he has been to the playoffs and the World Series before, Floyd will be a overflowing source of information and a great example of courage under fire in the coming month, and beyond.
 
 
There have been a few whispers of Floyd maybe not coming back for a second season with the Rays. I think if he is having the kind of fun he is having right now with this young ballclub. If he does decide to forego his final year with the Rays, you can bet it will be because of injury, and not the lack of desire to want to be next to the Rays young players for the next few years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Rays Home to Series Win over Jays

 

 

Rays 3, Blue Jays 2

 

 

Before the contest last night, the members of the Rays/Pepsi Wall of Fame met for a pre-game meal up in the leftfield conference room at the Trop. It was a very informal get together so that we can chat amongst ourselves ans catch up with each other before the game. It was a great event for this small group of extreme fans to just sit, eat and glow about the 2008 Rays squad.

Members from the first years’ class of inductees to the crop of newbies for 2008 mingled and raved about the food and the gifts bestowed on us by the Rays. I do have to say that the Rays have been extremely supportive and responsive to the fan’s needs in the last two years. It is a welcome sight from when the fan hosts and  other Rays personnel used to just be a little less humanitarian and civil to the fan base.

Among the conversations were the play of B J Upton recently and the pricing of the post season ticket packages. I heard a few voices opinions that they will not be able to afford the playoff packages and felt terrible they could not support the team fully right now in their drive for a playoff berth. A few even wished the Rays would push back the date needed for the deposits and full payments so they could build their nest egg to purchase these packages.

It would be a true crime to not have every member of this impressive group there for the playoff contests. But in the economic times that we have, sometimes people have to make a choice in their own financial endeavors. With that in mind, please remember that your post season purchase deadline for Season Ticketholders is Sept 12th. Failure to secure a ticket package by this date will be a forfeiture of the reduced rate and the guarantee of your seats for the playoff games.

 

Rays 3, Blue Jays 2

 

 

 

 

When Toronto’s Joe Inglett hit  a 1-1- pitch to leftfield that was dipping and moving away from the playing field as it flew down the foul line. Eric Hinske came out of nowhere and leaped to his right and caught the ball in mid flight to secure the first out of the 1st inning for the Rays.

The play was  remarkable to see, and was voted as the 4th best Web Gem on “ESPN’s Baseball Tonight” for Thursday night. Hinske has been impressive both on the field and at the plate in the absence of Carl Crawford in his susal leftfield position. Hopefully the Rays; will reward Hinske for his efforts and give him a nice chunk of change in the off season to remain with the team.

 

 

B J Upton stole his 38th base in the  5th inning after singling to center field. Upton took off on the third pitch to Carlos Pena and arrived before the throw from Jay’s catcher Rod Barajas. Upton was then picked off before the Jay’s Jesse Litsch threw another pitch to Pena. Upton was casually moving off second base and did not see Litsch pivot in time to get back to second to prevent the tag for the third out in the inning.

Upton’s 38th stolen base currently has him ranked third in the Al, 3 behind current leader Jacobs Ellsbury of the Red Sox. Upton’s 14th caught stealing play of the year has him still on top of the list for the major leagues this season. Upton currently has been caught 3 more times than his nearest AL competitor, the Angels Chone Figgans.

 

 

 

 

Willy Aybar has been a great force at the plate and in manning third since the injury to Evan Longoria. Aybar again provided offensive support for the Rays with his 8th homer of the year to deep right centerfield stands. His solo shot in the 6th inning proved to be the game winner for the Rays.

Aybar is batting .277, with 4 homers and 11 RBIs and 5 walks since taking over for Longoria on August 8th in Seattle.

 

 

                        

 

 

Edwin Jackson was rewarded for his great control and firm pitching tonight with his 11th win of the year. Jackson threw 106 pitches over 7 innings and gave the Rays Bullpen a much needed breather tonight.

Tonight was also Jackson’s 100th career appearance in a game.  Jackson has now won a career-high 11 game this season. His previous high was 5 set in 2007. Jackson has also won 5 of his last 6 starts and seems to be peaking this year at the right point for the Rays.  His only loss over those 6 starts was in Texas where he only allowed  1 run on a Ian Kinsler homer in the first inning. In that period, he has a 2.63 ERA over 34.2 innings.

 

Cliff Floyd also hit a monster solo homer in the 3rd inning last night that travels well over 400 feet to within a few feet of the Rays tank in right centerfield. Floyd has been on a bit of an offensive tear lately hitting .311 in the last 14 games, and is currently the second best hitter ( .341 ) to ever play at the Trop trailing only former Yankee Bernie Williams ( .374 ).

 

The Rays other run was scored in the after Akinora Iwamura lead off the game with a double to deep center. Upton then hit a single to left to move Aki into scoring position at third base.  Cliff Floyd then came up and hit a high sacrifice fly to center that score Iwamura and put the Rays up 1-0.

 

 

The Rays finally gave up the shutout in the 8th inning as Alex Rios lead off the innning with a ground rule double that bounced over the centerfield wall before Upton could catch up to it. Jackson then was relieved by Chad Bradford then  got Vernon Wells to ground out to Bartlett who threw to first to get the first out of the inning and  put  Rios at third.

Adam Lind then got an infield single to second to score Rios and put the Jays on the board 3-1. Trever Miller was the  brought in to face Lyle Overbay and got him to strike out for the second out of the inning. Grant Balfour then relieved Miller and gave up a RBI double to Rod Barajas, who scored Lind on the play to put the Jays within one 3-2. Jose Bautista, who is 0-11 since coming up for the Jays, then struck out to end the 8th inning.

 

Congrats to the Rays for having next Weds. game against the Yanbkees picked up by ESPN as their primary broadcast game of the night. Thiss marks the 9th nationally televised contest for the Rays this season. It is by far a franchise high mark for the team.

 

 

 

Dan Wheeler then came on and pitched an inspired 9th inning for the Rays. Wheeler got the Jays out on 12 pitches to earn his 10th save of the year. Wheeler struck out the first two Jays batters before Barajas hit a liner to Aki to end the game.  It also secured the Rays 29th series win, which is tops in the majors this year.

 

Pitcher’s Duel Dooms Rays

 

 

Blue Jays 6, Rays 2

 

 

I got to the stadium tonight at about 5 minutes before the gates opened as usual and was strolling around just saying hello to a few friends and fans. I got over by the Ted Williams Museum and saw one friend who told me a pretty distrubing bit of news about one of the Trop’s imfamous fans.

 

It seems tha Cowbell Kid had been on WDAE a local talk radio station some time during the day and had opened his mouth as bit about a certain mother-daughter pairing at the Trop. It seems that Cowbell found it a bit odd that a person who was born in New York city and wore a NY pendant around their neck can not be a true Rays fan.

 

He urged the radio audience to go up to her and yank that chain off her. Now the thought that some strange fan, or Cowbell-ite might go up and yank a chain off someone neck like a two-bit theft made me a bit more than angry. You see thei guy has been given multiple chances by the Rays management to try and be a positive influence to the fans.

 

I use another Myspace superfan as an example. If you got to a Chicago White Sox game, ask about Soxman. I have read alot of positive thing about him in the community, and in the press for his humanitarian and civic gestures.  Positive thing led to positive action from a team.

 

This latest flap has me all up in a roar and wanting this guy finally banished from the stadium. I love the fact he is a super fan. And I can truly understand and empathize about the struggles of being a Rays fan before this year. But to make a request that some do a crime against another fan, and someone he has also been on local television stations with is beyond belief and borders on insane.

 

For this reason, I am going to move thru the crowd at our annual Wall of Fame reception on Thursday and ask the Rays true faithful for their support in finally getting this guy either on page with the masses, or boot him to the Ferg’s parking lot where he can park cars in his Marge Simpson Wig and fake grill. 

 

I have spoken to the mother-daughter cheering team and let them know they have my total support in fighting this maniac. The word “fans” of course comes from the word “fanatic”. I enjoy fans, but you have to curb your fanatic edges sometimes, even for baseball.

 

 

Blue Jays 6, Rays 2

 

 

                          

Last night at the Trop we saw a classic pitchers duel unfold. We saw on e of the American Leagues primier pitchers thae last 5 years going against a Rays’ upstart. Roy Halladay had lost 3 pervious starts against the Rays squad this year, and the odds were that Halladay coulr rebound at any moment.

 

On the other hand, James Shields is being regarded by many around baseball as having some of the most explosive stuff in the league. Shields came to the mound seeking his 12th win of the season. What Shields ended up with was his 8th loss of the year in a hard fought game.

 

 

Shields went 6,2 innings and gave up 9-hits and 4-runs during the game. Shields got in trouble in the 4th inning as Toronto’s Alex Rios duobled to center and Adam Lind walked on 8 pitches. Lyle Overbay then  came up and sent the first pitch he saw to the deep centerfield gap and Rios and Lind scored to put the Jays up 3-0.

 

 

          

The energy level felt around the stadium tonight was at an all time low for this season. For some reason the stands as well as the players seemed to be in a bit of a lull instead of their usual upbeat, cowbell thumping  maniacs. I do not know what to contribute to this lack of  enegry tonight.

 

Maybe it is the fact that the contest Sunday could have been a emtional drain for the guys in the dugout, but with a day off on Monday you would think it would have washed off their psyches and they came out with a new attitude. You never know, but the Rays never seemed to have that visible spark or eruption of visual stimulation you usually see of from these guys on gameday.

 

Some people might have a unreal realization that this team no longer loses at home. Well, on most night’s that is true, but even tho we have one of the major’s best records at home doesn’t mean down this stressful last month we will not have mistakes or losses at home. But with only 15 games left in the home schedule, you would hope that the Rays could muster as many wins as possible to avoid having to pick up wins on the road.

 

 

The Ray finally got a huge offensive momentium going in the 6th innnig when Akinora Iwamura led off the inning with a single to center.  After B J Upton struck out, Carlos Pena hit a ball into left that moved Iwamura to seocnd base and in scoring position.

 

Then 5 pitches into Cliff Floyd’s at bat, Haladay threw a Wild Pitch and both runners advanced a base to put Iwamura 90 feet from the Rays’ first score of the night. Floyd ened up striking out and Willy aybar was hit by a pitch and loaded the bases for the Rays.  Eric Hinske came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the inning.  Hinske singled to left and scored both Iwamura and Pena to bring the Rays within striking range of the Jays, 3-2.

 

This was the last offensive surge for the Rays in the contest. 

 

 

In the game, the Rays had only three batters to the plate 5 times in the contest, including the 1-2-3 9th inning where the Rays struck out twice in the inning.  On the night the Jay’s pitching staff got 11 strikeouts and only produced 7 hits on the night.  Ben Zobrist and Junstin Ruggiano both came up as pinch-hiiter in the 9th inning and struck out for the Rays.

 

 

Worst thing about this contest is that the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees were battling in their contest during the Rays game. Boston ended up winning the game and moving 3 1/2 games behind the Rays. The next three series are critical for the Rays as we battle American League East foes who want to knock us off our perch on top of the standings.

 

Not since 1997 has another team beside the Yankees or Red Sox been at the top of the standings at this point in the season. In 1997, the Baltimore Orioles topped the Yankees for that position. In that season the Orioles ended up winning 98 games and only finished 2 games abive the Yankees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

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.

Rays Power Their Way Past Halos

 

 

 

Rays 6, Angels 4

 

 

During this series, we will learn more about our club than if we can win or lose these three contests. We might just see if we can stay in a game with a team that matches up quite perfect for us. Both the Angels and the Rays have a superior home win record to boast a pretty even series if played on either teams’ home turf.

But, if we can win our division and have the best record in the AL, it might just trigger something extra special in that the 3, or 4 games needed to win a playoff series could come out of the Trop. And as we all know, the Trop is a pit of cowbells and mass noise this season.

By our sweep victories against the Angels and Red Sox this season, we can establish that a short series could benefit and work into the Rays favor this year. No one other than the Angels in the AL, can boast to have a advantage in their home park like we have encountered this season. And if these two teams meet in the post season, it will be fireworks from the first pitch.

Some teams just match up well becuase of the players and the pitchers on a squad. These two teams match up well because they have both been built on the same premise. Every player believes he can make a contribution. Every pitcher believes he can win when he hits the mound, and every fan believe in both of those thoughts. These three factors can have a monsterious effect on a team’s mental and emotional outlook. And if good vibrations is just a Cali thing, then we have packaged some up and sent it to be transplanted in the Florida sunshine.

 

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

Andy Sonnanstine is a pretty mild-mannered guy. You would not expect him to be the guy at the forefront of this playoff push with 13 wins in the season. He is guy who just goes out and competes, and if the cards are lined up right, he will come home with a win. Sonnanstine has average pitches, but fantastic control to enable him to hit the black on the corner of the plate, and not be afraid to throw a breaking ball even with a 3-2 count to a batter.

 It is this confidience and ability that has shown brightly for Sonnanstine this year for the Rays. In one of his biggest starts  of the season, Sonnanstine effectively handled the high scoring Angels to 3 runs over 5.1 innings and improved to 13-6 for the Rays this year. Sonnanstine threw 104 pitches and effectively used his slider and change up to keep the Angels bats at bay for much of the contest.

In his 25th start of the season, Sonnanstine tied Scott Kazmir’s 2007 record with his 13th vicotyr of the season. The all-time leader in wins for the Rays , Rolando Arrojo has 14th wins, and is in jeapoardy of losing that record in Sonnanstine’s next start.  Sonnanstine is a combined 2-4 against the AL West this season, and 11-2 against everyone else in the majors this year. Andy has now allowed 3 earned runs or less in 13 of his last 15 starts for the Rays.

 

 

B J Upton again learned the value of knowning your surroundings as he was picked off by a heads up play by Angels first baseman, Mark Teixeria on a ball hit to deep right center in the bottom of the 4th inning. Teixieria was trailing the play, when Upton broke for second base for a double. Teixeria sneaked in behind Upton and tagged him as he was strolling into second base to end the Rays’ offensive spurt.

Upton looked dazed and confused as he lingered on second for a few moments before surrendering to the fact that the Angel got him again not huslting at 100 percent. Upton was expecting to go into second without incident, before Teixeria tagged him out.  I do not expect a disciplinary action after this, it is just that Upton might have finally gotten that wake up call he has been sleeping through by the Angel’s hustling effort.

Cliff Floyd said before Sunday’s contest that he could see himself watching television after he retires and still see Upton playing ball, but that the desire and the hustle have to be there for him to be successful.  Amen, Cliff, Amen.

 

 

To Upton’s credit, he did have an impressive play in the outfield in the 6th inning to rob Juan Riveria of a extra base hit. Upton took a great route on a fluttering ball to deep center over his shoulder to keep the Angels from having a big inning on the Rays.

 

 

 

 

Eric Hinske has been on a bit of a homer roll lately for the Rays. This is not a huge surprise to the team, and is a welcome sight because of his increased playing time since Carl Crawford’s injury. Hinske hit a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to give the Rays an earlyt lead in this ballgame, 2-0.

Hinske’s homer was his 19th of the season. Hinske also had an RBI single in the 3rd inning after Cliff Floyd’s homer to  right.  In his last 6 games, Hinske is batting .434, with 10 hits in his last 23 at bats.  He also has 10 RBI’s in his last 37 games . Hinske went 2-3 in the game and has inceased his average to .256 this season.

Since Crawford’s injury, Hinske has been effective as a replacement in leftffield handling the task with great ease. But it is his bat at the plate that has stood out for the Rays’ since Crawford’s absence. Hinske has responded by hitting the ball cleanly and effectively to help the Rays in this injury-plaqued month. Hinske has to consider this a great time to come alive both in the field and at the plate to help secure a spot with the Rays in 2009.

 

 

 

             

 

 

Cliff Floyd has been on fire lately at the plate for the Rays. Floyd is actually looking as calm and collected at the plate as when he was a member of the World Champion Marlins’ in 1997. Floyd has been a monster on the basepaths, and has not shown any effects of his two sore knees during this past two weeks.

Floyd has gone 8-20 in the last 5 games, with 8 runs scored. Prior to this offensive outspurt, Floyd was hitting .156 on the road for the Rays. Last night, Floyd hit a liner drive 2-run homer to right that just cleared the yellow line to put the Rays up 5-0 on the Angels. Floyd also had a infield hit to first in the 5th inning.

Floyd has been the emotional leader in the Rays clubhouse all year, but now that the playoff push is in full gear, he has been more and more vocal almost nightly into the Ray’s push for their first playoff spot. Floyd has been a excellient example on the baepaths and at the plate in what it will take to finally get that spot and succeed in the playoffs.

 

 

                        

 

 

Also having a huge week for the Rays has been Willy Aybar. Aybar filling in for the injured Evan Longoria at third base hit .306 on the recent roadtrip, with 7 extra base hits. Aybar has been another great example of players coming off the bench and filling the offensive void for the Rays during this recent injury situation. Aybar went 3-4 last night with 3 singles last night. Aybar also scored 2 runs last night for the Rays.

 

 

Gabe Gross also had an RBI single to complete the Rays’ scoring last night in the 8th inning. The run helped boost the Rays to 6-4, and cushion the victory margin for the Rays. Gross did hesitate a moment on his advancement  from first to second, and almost repeated the Upton error situation from prior in the game. Gross did get into second without incident.

 

 

With the victory, the Rays have tied the Angels for wins in tha AL, with 74 wins. This will be significant in the coming weeks to help determine the opponent, and the team we face in the playoffs. I know I am talking all “playoffs” right now, but I also feel it is better to be positive than to struggle with phrase like, “need to”, or ” critical that we….”  right now.

When on a win “high” it seems also most intoxicating to just keep the positives and the high-fives coming. I have no reason to doubt that the Rays can keep this momentium going for the next month, even with 28 of the following game against teams above .500 right now.

The level of competition will actually help the Rays more than it hurts them. By playing at a optimium level, the team will keep their emotional level and expectations high for the next month. And that could just be the simple answer to winning in September.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kazmir Posts 9th Win Against Rangers

 

 

 

Rays 7, Rangers 4

 

 

I always like to watch these Ranger series games in Arlington. Not that the female fans are the only reason to want to see the scan shots of the seats in the stadium, but sometimes you see that gut who doesn’t know he is on camera  and the dip in his mouth is drooling down the side. To make matters worse, he did not know it and kissed his girlfriend who promptly popped his cowboy hat off his head.

Seriously tho, this series is one of the wildest series the Rays usually have during the year. Both squads are equally matched and the Rangers have an offensive advantage in their home digs, but the heat gets to both teams. That is the main reason this game is played at night instead of 3 PM. The temperature on the field would be around 105 degrees and fluids would be flowing like water in the dugouts between innings.

Heck, with that kind of heat, you might as well put a water cooler behind the pitcher’s mound, or at least have semi-inning sprinklers come on to drench the players.  I know playing outdoors in August in Florida is usually both a humidity bath and a sweat factory. Now when the Marlins and Rays play in South Florida, the afternoon games begin at 11 AM to try and fool the Florida heat, but that never seems to work for either team.

But the Texas heat can be murder in the middle of the day more because of the non-humid conditions that tend to have the sweat bake on your sakin and a huge sunburn can be blistering and reddening by the 9th inning.  So, thse night games might seem weird for viewing fans, but the players love it because of the slight wind that does sneak into the stadium at night fall. 

 

***************************************************************************************************************

 

 

Scott Kazmir has had problems with his pitch counts in most of his 2008 starts. Kazmir has been averaging 18 pitches per inning this year and needs to bring that number down to be able to stay in the ballgames longer and help the Rays’ Bullpen situation.

Tonight, Kazmir collected his 9th win of the season, and went 6 inning. He still threw 114 pitches, but did not have the control he wanted in the game. Kazmir walked 4 in the game and struck out 7 Rangers’. In his previous two starts against Texas, Kazmir was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

 

Kazmir only ran into real trouble twice in this ballgame. In the 3rd inning,  after a Ian Kinsler double and a Walk to Brian Boggs, Michael Young hit a  single down the leftfield foul line that just fell in by a foot to score Kinsler and give the Rangers  their first run of the night.

In the  5th inning, Travis Metcalf took a 0-2 pitch deep to left field for a solo homer for the Rangers. That was the end of the Ranger’s scoring against Kazmir.

 

 

 

 

During the contest, viewers at home did not see the result of Carlos Pena’s broken bat in the his first inning at-bat. The baseball fan, in the red shirt, is assisted by security and medical personnel after being hit in the face with a portion of a broken bat. Rangers. Pena popped out to third during the at-bat and the fan was escorted away following his injury.

 

 

                         

 

 

The Rays got hot in the start of the 3rd inning as Gabe Gross led off with a double down the leftfield line that Gross originally thought was foul and hesitated out of the batters’ box. Considering the situation with B J Upton on that Friday night, Gross looked more embarrassed than worried about Rays Managers Joe Maddon’s comment to him later in the inning.

B J Upton then came on and doubled down the leftfield line also to score Gross and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.  It was Upton’s 55th RBI of the year, and his 28th double of the season. Ben Zorbrist then 1-hopped a ball to the wall in rightfield and settled for a single.

 

 

 

 

With men at first and third, Carlos Pena came up to bat. Pena took the second pitch he saw from Ranger’s starter Dustin Nippert and deposited it in the rightfield stands for a 3-run homer, and an early 4-0 Rays lead. Pena now has 6 homers in his last 12 games for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

But the Rays were not finished with the scoring in the game. Eric Hinske lead off the 4th inning with a double to deep left centerfield. Jason Bartlett then came up with 2 outs and hit a single to right that scored Hinske.

Then BJ Upton, who was batting in the lead-off spot tonight, hit a 2-run homer to right for his 8th homer of the year. The homer put the Rays up 7-1.

 

 

 

 

The Rays did have some Bullpen trouble in the 9th inning as Grant Balfour came in for the Rays. Balfour  started by walking  Ramon Vasquez on 9 pitches to load the bases for the Rangers.

Balfour then got Brian Boggs to commit  a potential double play, but the Rays only got one out on the toss by Iwamura to Bartlett. The Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out to argue that Vasquez went intentionally for Bartlett’s legs, but was overruled by the second base umpire, Tim Timmons. Boggs then went to second during Michael Young’s at bat on fielders indifference and put 2 runners in scoring position for the Rangers.

 

 

                    

 

 

With Josh Hamilton up to bat next for the Rangers, Maddon decided to intentionally walk Hamilton and let  Chris Davis score from third on the walk. The play was a calculated guess by Maddon that the walk would be the least amount of damage by Hamilton, and the Rays were still leading by 3 runs at the moment.

After the walk, Balfour was replaced by Dan Wheeler, who came in and struck out Marlon Byrd to record his 5th save of the year.

 

 

Before the game, Rays Television guru, Todd Kalas talked with Cliff Floyd  about the recent B J Upton situation. Floyd did agree with the punishment and the severity of the situation and will take Upton under his wing the rest of the year and try and mentor him to be more aware of game situations in the future.

Floyd also stated that Upton has to be careful how he is percieved from this moment on. Players who have shown a tendency to be difficult or problem children have had a hard time finding a position in the majors. He commented that showing respect by running every play out, by playing hard every moment of the game will make this sitation disappear faster than words at this time.

Great comments by a veteran player who is also the barometer of the clubhouse right now for the Rays. The Rays had a chance to get Floyd a few years ago right after he became a free agent with the New York Mets, but Floyd went to the Chicago Cub instead that season. Maybe if the Rays had such a veteran leadership in the clubhouse a few years ago, this year would be more expected than as a surprise to most teams in the league.

 

 

 

Garzas Shutout dooms Rangers

 

 

Rays 7, Rangers 0

 

 

Some nights you just turn on the television and want to see an offensive explosion on the tube. Going into this Texas series, the Rays are going to encounter the team that leads the majors in runs scored per game. This squad is even more potent tha the Chicago Cubs, who have won an easy dozen more games than the Rangers.

But the firepower on this roster is well documented. The stadium is a true hitters’ ballpark, and the incoming teams have to deal with the heat and humidity that only the Florida Marlins could love. Arlington Texas can be a boiler room during the months of August and September, the temperatures can read 90-ish, but feel more like wet sauna.

The Rays come in here cool, calm and relaxed, and a few more wins will make this feel more like the Artic than the Sahara. Winning breeds success, and right now, the Rays are a success story for the ages. Coming in an impressive 6-2 during this roadtrip can put an exclamation point on the roadtrip. The Rays have to go above .500 in their road series to truly envision a playoff berth for the first time in franchise history.  If last night’s performance is only a glimpse into the future, the the future is so bright………you have to wear shades.

 

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

When the Rays looked into their crystal ball before trading for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett, did they see this kind of success this early for the pair. Did they see that Garza would come back to the scene of a major emotional and mental meltdown and redeem himself three-fold on the diamond. Could they have envisioned that Garza is considered by many in baseball right now to have the best stuff ( pitches) on the team’s roster. Do you think they thought Matt could mature and accept so soon to be a force on the mound every time he steps to the rubber?

 

Matt Garz threw his thrid complete game last night for the Rays. In the 7-0 shutout, Garza’s sinker ball was amazing last night, and was a true key to Gara winning his 10th win of the season. His sinker was hitting the spots last night with a great downward break at the last moment. Considering he throws it consistanly above 90 MPH, is true testement to his improvement on the mound.

Garza had Ranger batters’ swinging and missing at his pitches last night. Going into the 6th inning, only Josh Hamilton had reached base on a walk for the Rangers. Garza struck out 9 last night and looked totally in control on the mound.

 

 

 

 

Garza’s last start in Texas was a million miles away as you saw him pause before pitching each inning and look into his hat for inspiration and mental notes to get him focused in ths game. The only time Matt truly showed emotion in this contest was in the top of the 9th when he went over to Rays Manager Joe Maddon and  Pitching Coach Jim Hickey and asked to finish out the game.

It was truly a great night to be a Rays fan.

 

 

The Rays struck out 12 times last night against the Rangers. In the last 4 games, the team has now struck out 39 times at the plate. This puts the Rays at 890 strike outs for the season. This is pale in comparison with the major’s leading strikeout squad, the Florida Marlins, who have struck out 1,056 times this year.  But the Rays are within the range of the AL leading  Oakland A’s who have 930 strikeouts.

It brings about a glaring statistic that could play out more down the road for the Rays. There is a difference in being aggressive at the plate, and being a bit foolish and letting a player strike out looking at a pitch than swinging. The Rays have had more strikeouts looking lately than in a long time.

This has to be nipped in the bud a bit to be able to compete come  the September crunch time when baserunners will come at a premium for the team. In the coming weeks, teams will be bringing up the  young fireballers out of the minors to intice us to swing at air. We need to exercise a bit more plate discipline and either swing with authority or take the pitches.

 

 

 

 

Willy Aybar started the barrage in the 4th inning by slamming his 7th homer of the season to rightfield and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead. The homer was a impressive shot that curled into the Rangers pinic area above rightfield and maybe put the Rangers’ Marlon Byrd on the bench with an injury. Byrd went up for the ball and got his wrist or upper hand stuck in the railing area and came down without his glove.

At this point in the contest, the Rays had Rangers’ starter Kevin Millwood at 60 pitches and he was slated for an early exit to the game.

 

 

 

 

But the Rays put the game and Millwood on the bench in the 5th inning. Carlos Pena hit  a 3-2 pitch into the right field stands for his 24th homer of the season. Pena went 1-3, with 3 runs scored, and 2 walks in the game. Pena now has 9 homers in the last 20 games, and one on each of the last 3 contests for the Rays.

But that was only the start of the barrage for the Rays. Cliff Floyd, who was 2-5 on the night, hit his second double of the game to setup the next heroics for the Rays. After a Aybar srikeout, Eric Hinske came to the plate.

 

 

 

 

Hinske took a Millwood pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark and above a leaping Josh Hamilton to spot the Rays to a 4-0 lead over the Rangers. Hinske hit that ball into the grassy batter’s eye area in centerfield for his 18th homer. In his last 5 games, Hinske is batting .438, with 2 homers and 3 RBI’s.

But that was not the end of the big blasts for the Rays.

 

 

 

 

Rightfielder Gabe Gross also got into the action by hitting the first pitch he saw from Millwood into the Rays Bullpen area for his career-high 10th homer of the year. In the game, the Rays hit 4 homers for the 4th time this season.  Gross aslo got a stolen base off Millwood in the 2nd inning.

 

 

 

 

Jason Bartlett also started at shortstop for the first time since his in jury on August 3, 2008. Bartlett had been a DH a few times in the last week before finally taking thenfiled for the Rays tonight. On the night, Bartlett went 2-4 at the plate and  was the pivot man in the Rays’ only double play of the night.

 

 

Now for the upsetting news. You would have thought he got the message a week ago when Maddon benched him for slowly running to first base on a play, but B J Upton is again in the Rays doghouse. Maddon pulled Upton after he took 5.5  seconds to lollygag to first on a double play attempt.

Upton said after the game he thought the Rays had two outs at the time, but also commented that he now knows he has to hustle all of the time and not just take breathers on the basepaths.  Upton is a great young talent, and Maddon is truly not flexible on this action. He expects everyone to run hard and give maximum effort on every play.

That is a truly commendable trait, and one that Upton probably will have time to reflex on since he will be sitting out the Sat night game against the Rangers’ for his actions. Upton must understand that everyone on this squad is responsible for either its losses’ or successes this season. The Rays have a unique opportunity to change history and nothing short of 100 percent will do right now.

Beyond that, Upton will probably be wise to not get into this doghouse again this season. Maddon is quick to show that Cliff Floyd, who has two aching knees, gutted out two doubles last night, and score 4 runs in the Thursday afternoon game.

His knees were probably braking loud and clear before Friday night’s game. But as a veteran oin this club, Floyd also knows it is all about example and execution right now. And he has a World Series ring to prove it.

B J  has to consider himself really lucky to get such multiple chances from Maddon. In the not to distant past, Delmon Young wrote his ticket out of Tampa Bay on just such a play. And he only got the one chance to slack off before being shipped out of here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pena blasts Rays to Series Win versus A’s

 

Rays 7, Athletics 6

 

Rays Assistant Pitching Coach, Brian Anderson has been in the booth the past few games for the Rays Television Network.

 

 Brian originally came to Spring Training to get in pitching shape and help this squad in either the Bullpen,or as a spot starter for the Rays. But Anderson toiled on until his shoulder again began to bother him near the end of Spring Training and his pitching career was in jeopardy.Knowing that his career might have neded in the Florida sunshine, the Rays originated a position on their staff for Anderson, as a Assistant Pitching Coach.

 

Being a left-handed pitcher, it made it easier for Brian to show players like Scott Kazmir and J P Howell the grip and delivery Pitching Coach Jim Hickey was trying to teach to them.  Hickey, a right-handed thrower, used to have to use a bit of mirror image to show the lefties what he was trying to illustrate to them. With Anderson, they have a former pitcher who can show them and work on mechanics with them.

 

Anderson also used to do some television work while with the Cleveland Indians recovering from a pitching injury. During that time he developed a passion for the game from the high perch in the booth. He became a great analyst of the game and strived in his new role.

 

When he came to the Rays as a player, he never invisioned that he would again be behind the mike with Dewayne Staats for any period of time. Anderson is beginning a tempoary assignment up in the booth with Staats in turn because regular analyst, Joe Magrane is in New York doing the USA baseball telecasts. Ander son and fellow boradcaster Todd Kallas will be tag-teaming the analyst spot until Joe returns after the Olympics.

 

Anderson has been doing the last two nights in the booth, and you can already see a diffrence is style from the two guys. Brian is more technical, without being stiff and doesn’t use the sarcasm and quick-wit jokes that Magrane has become famous for on his telecasts. It is refreshing to learn that a gut turned on a back-door slider that stayed over the plate for a homer, than to just hear some faint story or phrase to accompany the play.  It has been a great time listening to him, and hopefully he can turn this into a full-time gig somewhere next year in the MLB.

 

*********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Those Rays fans yesterday at Smokey Bone’s in Clearwater got their money worth watching this game. It was an interesting turnout of fans that ate some BBQ and spread some Rays cowbells throughout the dining rooms. Rays Radio guru, Rich Hererra was all over the restuarant during the breaks meeting and greeting with the Rays’ faithful in attendance.

 

These events have been very successful for the Rays this year. I believe that the Rays have a winning record in these remote telecasts this season.  Nothing better than be surrounded by fine food and drinks and the fans that get really rowdy for our Rays.

 

  

For all you Rocco Baldelli haters out there, shame on you. 

 

Hr might not be where you want him offensively right now, but defensively, you have to be beating a drum and waiting for the homestand so you can offcially welcome him back to the fold. Again yesterday, Rocco made a very hard and impressive dive for a ball in rightrfield to save an extra base hit during the 6th inning. The A’s Bobby Crosby hit a screaming low liner doen the  first baseline that Baldelli sprinted from righfield and gloved without a problem.

 

What was truly unqiue is that the Rays had just inserted reliever Chad Bradford into the game. Bradford in known throughout the league as a groundball pitcher, and the Crosby hit was his only fly ball of the game. 

 

Also do not forget that Baldelli singled in the 11th inning. On the single by Ben Zobrist, Baldelli tried to force the A’s hand by trying to score from first and was just tagged out by Kurt Suziuki at the plate to keep the game tied 5-5. 

 

  

I think we can truly say right now that Carlos Pena is back. And it could not have come at a better time for the Rays. Shrouded in injuries and needing its veterans’ to pull this team up, Carlos hit his 23rd homer of the season out in the 12 inning to secure the victory and the series win for the Rays. Pena only went 1-5 on the day, but connected at the right time to help his team maintain their 3-game lead over the Boston Red Sox.

 

Pena has now hit 8 home runs in his last 19 games. And with the majority of his hits going to the centerfield and right center gaps, is showing that he has regained the form we saw alot of last season. The guy who is smiling most right now is Rays Manager Joe Maddon.

 

Maddon has had Pena’s back all year over skeptics opinions that Pena might need to be sat down, or another guy put in his spot. Pena is finally rewarding Maddon for his consistant comments that he (Pena) will find his way, and we will be a better team because of him.

 

  

 

In the 3nd inning of the game, Willy Aybar doubled to right centerfield and gave the Rays their first run  of the day. Aybar then got to third on a fly out to right by Eric hinske, and scored on a Scarifice Fly by Dioner Navarro to put the score at 2-2.

 

Aybar got into the scoring again after Floyd walked in the third inning. Aybar hit a screamer into rightcenterfield that Carlos Gonzalez could not grab and ended up with a triple. Floyd scored on the play and the Rays went up 3-2. Aybar ended up going 2-5 on the day with 2 RBI’s and a run scored for the Rays.

 

Cliff Floyd has made no bones this season about his sore knees. He has played thru pain and aches and has shown the Rays the senior leadership they have been missing for years. Floyd walked 4 times in the game today and scored 4 times for the Rays.  This is the kind of leadership and sacrifices these young players need to see from their veterans.

 

Floyd has said the right things to the media, and can be seen talking and chatting up the Rays every day on the bench. He is also one of the first guys to jump up and congradulate a teammate coming into the dugout. He is a underlying reason why this team is showing more professionalism and a great energy around the clubhouse.

 

 

Dioner Navarro also had a great game for the Rays going 2-4 and getting 2 RBI’s on the day. But it was Navarros calm behind the plate and the game calling that got James Shields out of trouble a few times in this contest. Shields did not display his good stuff today and quickly got behind 2-0 to the Oakland A’s.

 

Shields went to the mound today knowing the Rays needed this win to secure the series and keep their roadtrip on the winning edge. Shields seemed to be forcing his change-up and curve early in the game and the A’s took advantage of his unusual lack of control. The A’s got 2 runs on 3 hits in the first two innigs to put pressure on Shields.

 

Shields then shut the A’s down ending the day with 4-hits and 4-runs on the day. The unusual statistic is that he walked 5 men today. Shields has been in the top of the league most of the year in walk to innings ratio. But then again, the A’s are one of the best team in the majors at drawing walks and making you throw consistant pitches to them inning after inning. 

 

  

The Troy Percival saga again reared its ugly head in this game. Troy came on and pitched the 9th inning. Troy walked the first batter, Jack Hannahan, and Marc Ellis stood at the plate. Ellis hit a weak bunt attempt to Percival, who ran down the line to tag out Ellis. Troy came off the mound a bit unbalanced and was sprinting to Ellis before pulling up after the tag.

 

Percival had twisted his knee during the play and had to be replaced by Grant Balfour. This will probably be Percival’s third trip to the DL for a short time this season. Now I know a 38 year old pitcher will have bumps and bruises throughout the season, but when do you make a decision to shut him down for a while.

  

 

Maybe the Rays should bring up Juan Salas, or another Durham reliever to re-fortify the Bullpen until Sept 1st. Let Troy relax and rehab a bit until the Sept 1st call-up, then reactiviate him and he should be fresh for the stretch run. Percival will be a valuable commodity come playoff time, but right now he just needs to get in the right shape and get game ready for the stretch run against the major players in the AL East.

 

Let’s not forget that Hannahan did come around to score the tying run for the A’s in the 9th and the blown save is credited to Percival.  Cliff Pennington came on to run for Hannhan and scord on Frank Thomas’s single to deep right centerfield.

  

 

Not lost in the game was in insertion of Jason Bartlett at shortstop for the Rays in the 12 inning. Bartlett is seeing his first action on the turf since his injury to his finger during the last homestand. Bartlewtt showed his rusty ways by committing a throwing error to first to put Emil Brown aboard for the A’s.

 

Brown moved to second on Bobby Crosby’ single and moved on to third on Jason Hammel’s wild pitch. Brown ended up scoring on Suzuki’s double play and got the A’s with one run 7-6.

 

Trever Miller came on in the 12th inning after Brown scored and got the a’s to commit a ground ball out to save the game for the Rays. It was Miller’s first save of the season. 

 

 

 

Ray’s Run into Trouble with A’s

 

Athletics 2, Rays 1

 

 

The Rays Television networks had originally scheduled for three games to not be televised during this 10 game road trip. But the Ion network and FSN both picked up one contest in the Texas and the Mariner’s series to make only last night’s game the lone radio and MLB gamecast only game on this trip.;

Little did they know they might have picked the perfect game for no one to want to watch.  For people to view anything on this game, they would have had to purchase or already have the MLB Television package, and would have gotten the Oakland A’s broadcast team commenting on the game.

It is usually a wild night to hear another teams’ boradcast duo tell you things about your squad. Usually you only here the comments concerning their squad, which is acceptable, but every once in a while you hear and see something that makes you chuckle. Last night it was the comment near the end of the night that we were a team in flux, without two stars who spun the moon and created the heavens and we were not the same Rays team last night.

I know this team will be in that flux for a few weeks, but they also are professional players and need to suck it up and show that they have the gumption and the fortitude to climb this mountain without hesistation. I did not see that in their faces or actions last night, but I know it is just a small problem within the clubhouse that will get fixed immediately.

Either that, or our 3 game lead over Boston will be gone after Friday night’s game in Texas. The Rays have had a few key guys go down before this season. The must rebound and re-sound to the MLB nay-sayers that this team is about heart and hustle and not playing with a set of mirrors this season. If they do not make the strides to correct themselves, they will be victim to those October blues called the “what if’s”.

 

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

Rays starter Scott Kazmir has been off his game a few times this season. If you looked totally at the boxscore and did not venture to see what really happened in this contest, you would have thought he had another bad outing.

 Kazmir actually had a great outing, he was consistant in his placement of the ball over the plate and struck out 6 in the game while walking 2 batters.  He really only had otwo critical mistakes in his 2-run, 2-hit effort on the night. And both of those errors happened back to back to secure the win for the A’s.

Oakland’s Emil Brown started the 2nd inning off by walking on 6 pitches from Kazmir. Then Bobby Crosby battled Kazmir from a 3-2 count to hit a hanging pitch to left center to put the A’s up for good 2-0. In his 5 innings, Kazmir never had another rough inning but the 2nd inning. He retired the side, three up, three down in both the 1st, 4th,and 5th innings of the game.

 

 

Before the game it was announced that Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford will undergo surgery to correct his hans issues and will be out at least 6-8 weeks for the Rays. The injury happened during the 10th innnig of the Seattle Mariner’s game on Saturday night. Crawford heard a “popping” sound in his hand area and the Rays suggested immediate X-rays to rule out a break.

The Ray quickly put him and Evan Longoria on a red eye flight back to Tampa Bay to see the Rays doctors about their injuries. The X-rayson Crawford were examined by the Rays local doctor, who advised Crawford to have surgery on Thursday to eliminate any future  problems.

the injury is to his middle index finger on his right hand down near the joint area where the finger meets the hand. The tendon that rests on top of his fingers was being forced out by him swinging the bat at the plate. The tendon normally sets in a groove in this area and flexs and moves without incident. But Crawford’s tendon was flexing and not returning to it’s right position and had to be manually manipulated to be put back into it’s tendon area.

Crawford is expected to be out a maximum of 6-8 weeks, but the decision will be Crawfords and the medical staff to decide if the injury heals faster, or is season ending at that time.

 

 

 

 

The 4th inning of last night’s game did not look like a first place team playing another squad that was 20 games out of first place. It looked more like two struggling squads just trying to get a few runs and hold onto a lead to win a contest that neither wanted to lose.

In the 5th inning, with Ben Zorbrist on third and Jason Bartlett on first, Akinora Iwamura tried to put dowmn a safety squeeze play to get the Rays the tying run in the game.  Iwamura did get down a bunt on the play, but it was right in front of the mound and Zorbrist mis-read the play and sprinted for home.

In the run down, Zorbrist was tageed out between third and home to stop the Rays’ plans to score. Iwamura was safe on first with a fielder’s choice, and Bartlett moved to second on the play. Then  A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez picked off Bartlett on second and ended the Rays threat in the inning.

A good safety squeeze would put the ball towards the first base side so the pitcher would not have eye sight of the runner on thrid and take to logical raoute of getting the out at first base. With the play right in front of the mound, Gonzalez only had to look over his shoulder to see Zorbrist caught between the bases for an easy out. To make matters worse, B J Upton singled  following the play and would have scored either Zorbrist and possibly Bartlett to give the Rays the lead in the game.

 

 

The Rays scored their lone run of the game in the 3rd inning. Zorbrist walked on 4 pitches and went to third on Jason Bartlett’s double to deep left centerfield. Aki then hit a sacrifice fly to score Zorbrist from third and bring the Rays with in 1 run of the game 2-1. 

 

 

 The Rays would again threathen in the 4th inning when Rocco Baldeii and Willy Aybar both walked with 1 out, but Dioner Navarro and Justin Ruggiano both struck out to smother the threat for the Rays.  In the contest, the Rayts stranded 9 men on base without scoring a single run.

This has been a re-occuring theme in the Rays’ game this season. They have one of the leagues worst percentages of hitting with  men in scoring position. This is a statistic that will be further magnified in the coming weeks as to the either downfall or upward swing of the Ray’s season.  The Rays need to put the bat on the ball more in theses positions with postive results before the season comes down to missed opportunities on the basepaths.

 

 

Talking about the basepaths. In the 8th inning, Aybar started a rally off by singling to leftfield.   Eric Hinske then came on to pinch hit for Jusitn Ruggiano. Hinske hit a high fly ball to left field that was caught by Emil Brown.

 Aybar had taken off from first thinking the play was over Brown’s head and realized he had caught the ball as he rounded second halfway to third base. Brown noticed Aybar beyond second and knew he had no real chance of retreating to first and threw the ball to first baseman Daric Barton to double up Aybar on the play.

Now, I know Aybar was trying to make something happen, but even in Little League, we are told to keep our heads up and watch the ball before sprinting to another base on a fly ball hit deep. This is an example of the night’s errors that cost the Rays this game. I am not saying that the next batter would have gotten a needed hit to move Aybar, but the point is moot if he is not even on the basepaths.

 

 

A true positive in this game was the hitting of DH Bartlett. He went 2-4 on the night and hit for contact on his other two at-bats in the game. The Rays are expecting to put Bartlett back at shortstop during  Friday night’s in Texas.

The Rays have missed his offensive power in the past few games, but they did sandwich three great games in between their two losses during this roadtrip. Having Bartlett back in the hole will free up Zorbrist to either play third base, or even hit the outfield for a few innings.

Also of positive note for the Rays was the 8 innings of play by Rocco Baldelli in rightfield. Rocco seemd to be loose and calm out in right all game long. This is a good bit of news for the Rays as Rocco just might be that right-handed batter we have been seeking the past few months for our lineup.

Rocco only went 1-3 on the night to raise his average to .283, but he hit with power in his at-bats and could see the ball well at the plate. All good signs for the Rays.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 278 other followers