Results tagged ‘ Jason Hammel ’

Rays Prevent Empire Sweep

 

 

Rays 7, Yankees 5

 

Last night you saw what I love about baseball. You are never out of a game, no matter what the score is at the time. Even if it is 2-outs, bottom of the 9th inning, if you can put some good wood on the bat, you have a chance to win the game. And the Yankees almost pulled off that theory to sweep us last night.

Now I know, Rays Manager Joe Maddon would not let this win get aways from the Rays, but it got close……..too close.  I have seen many a Bullpen implsion in my 11 years following the Rays, and last night was just a blimp on the radar scope of implosions.  Becuase of the recent scores in the Yankee games, Jason Hammel had has the duties as the garbage man, or guy who gets to mop up the innings because of the score.

And what has transpired is a bit disheartening. Hammel has pitched in 5 2/3 innings this homestand and has given up 9 hits and 8 runs in his releif appearances. Hammel is being groomed to be a reliever for the Rays and not a starter. With these numbers on a total of 114 pitches, it looks like the experiement will go sour for him. But I am not throwing Hammel out to the wolves here, just that he is a prime candidate for an off season change of scenery.

Since he is from Washington state, maybe the Mariner’s could use a young pitcher with a huge bit of potential. Unfortunately, he is out of minor league options and can not be sent down without going through waivers. If the Rays did subject him to the waiver wire, he would not last long and we would not get anything for him.

 So the answer might be to try and salvage his career in the coming months and then find a good suitor who needs young pitching, major league quality pitching. With the backload we already have in the minors, it would not be in his best interest to stay here past 2008.

By the way, the Durham Bulls got beat last night 19-3 by the Louisville Bats and are heading home for the middle games of this best-of-5 series. The series is currently tied up at 1 win each.

 

   Rays Magic number:     21

This is the Magical number of win or Boston losses combined to win the AL East Crown.

 

 

                                  

 

Scott Kazmir pitched like the team’s ace last night. He had great control of his fastball, used his change-up well, and threw in a few sliders for good measures. It is by far one of the best performances from Kazmir in 2008. And it came at a time that the Rays needed their ace to deliver. The unfortunate thing is that a high number of pitches got Kazmir an early night and not getting blasted by the Yankee’s bats.

Kazmir lasted 6 innings and left with a 1-hit shutout for his night. Kazmir got 7 strikeouts, but walked 5 tonight to show some slight concern on his high walk totals this year. But the night belonged to Kazmir finally pitching like he did in 2007. He showed confidience and strength on the mound and dominated the Yankee hitters all night long.

 

 

                                   

 

 

Did you know that the Rays’ starting pitchers all have at least 10 wins this season. That has only happened 6 times with a staff where all the starter were under 26 years old or younger. The Rays young guns joined the 1968 Oakland A’s as the only teams in history to have 5  pitchers aged 26 or younger with 20 starts and 10-game winners in the same season.

 

 

 

 

Willy Aybar put his defensive bad night behind him and came out wanting the win for the Rays. Aybar was spectacluar at third base last night completing several putouts in amazing form. And Willy again came alive at the plate for the Rays.  Aybar went 2-4 on the night with 3 RBI’s and a run scored on the night.

 But his big hit of the night was his solo shot to right to provide the needed run to secure the win for the Rays.  With Evan Longoria still out with his wrist injury, Aybar will be called upon more by the Rays to fill in the gap until Longoria’s return.  Aybar hit over .290 on the homestand and has recorded multiple hits in 10 of the last 22  games.

 

 

                           

 

 

Dioner Navarro also had a career night going 4-5, with a run scored and is creeping up on .300 again this season. Navarro is currenting hitting .297 for the Rays and can raise his average up to over .300 again with a good roadtrip. Navarro collected 3 singles on the night and hit a liner that skidded over the Bullpen Cafe wall for a gorund rule double in the 7th inning (I could not reach that dang ball).

Navarro did have one bad thing happen to him last night. he was tagged out at home when he tried to score from second on Jason Bartlett’s single to centerfield. The Yankee’s Johnny Damon, not known for his arm anymore, put a ball right on target and got Navarro by 10 feet to end the 7th inning.

 

 

            

 

 

The 5th inning was key for the Rays last night as they tacked on 5 runs in that inning to set the tone for the night.  Eric Hinske and Navarro got the inning off with a pair of singles, and Hinske advanced to third on a wild pitch by Yankee’s starter Darrell Rasner.  Gabe Gross then hit a double to center to score Hinske and put Navarro at third with no outs.

Jason Bartlett then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Navarro and put Gross at third with  1 out. Akinora Iwamura then hit a single to center to score Gross and put the Rays up 3-0 at the moment.  A B J Upton single then put Aki at thrid with BJ at first base with only 1 out in the inning.

Carlos Pena then walked again on 6 pitches and the bases loaded for the Rays.  Cliff Floyd then struck out and Aybar came up and hit a single to right that scored both Aki and Upton to raise the score to 5-0. In the inning, the Rays got 5 runs on 6 hits and chased Yankee’s starter Darrell Rasner from the game.

 

                          

                                     

 

The Rays did have one more scoring opportunity in the game in the 8th inning when Iwamura hit a ball into the gap in left center and raced all the way around the bases for a triple. Upton then hit a sacrifice fly to score Iwamura from third base.

Speaking of Upton, I hope all the distractors are happy now to know that Upton has been playing with a slightly torn labium since he pulled his shoulder out in Baltimore earlier in the season. The injury is in his non-throwing shoulder and is not career threathening, so he has been playing in pain for some time. To imagine playing with such an injury, and still be hitting .272 on the year is just incredible to me.

So we know now why the power aspect of Upton’s game is not showing up as he is simply hitting with 1 arm up there at the plate. And to think it is his lead shoulder that is damaged shows the discipline and determination of B J  this season. He has not whimpered or cried to the media about this sutation. And not until recently when he asked Maddon if he could limit his batting practice attempts to rest the shoulder did the situation even surface.

I think we all now need to just appreciate this guy more and more in the next few weeks ans know we have a guy who will do anything for his team, no matter what the cost.  And you people have been badgering him for months now.  Shame on all of us, even me.

 

 

 

 

 

Yankees Win Round 1

 

 

Yankees 7, Rays 2

 

Best thing about the New York Yankees right now, they are fighting to stay afloat in any playoff situation. But the reality is that if the Toronto Bluejays can win their next 2, and the Yankees lose 2, it is pretty much all over for the Yankees. I know it has been over 11 seasons since the boys from the Bronx have had to make dinner reservations in New York come October 1st.

But the reality is that this team has been pitching weak all year and has gotten some great spot action, but without Mike Mussina, this team would be fighting the Orioles for the cellar. But we all know that this is just a bump in the NY road, and it will be patched by and ready to go in 2009. But then again, the Rays will also be re-loading and will not take on a huge amount of salary that the Yankees will need to offer to get the big guns to finish this transition. While other teams rebuild, the Yankees reload.

Speaking of reloading, it was a great sight to finally come to the Trop and get mobbed by Blue and White, without pinstripes on them. For one of the first times in recent memory, the Rays fanbase came out and supported the cause last night. Every time a Yankee chant started, the cowbells or boo’s were loud and proud. The team did not back down to the Yankees intimidation tactics, or the usual trash talk in the stands. And I only saw a small handful of security-aided situations compared to the usual Yankee series. Maybe the Yankee fans are finally deciding they will have more fun, and be heard more at home than at the Trop. I can not say I will miss them, but it does give more room to the Rays fans to cheer on their team.

 

Yankees 7, Rays 2

 

                  

 

I love to reward hustle and aggressive measures by a player. I think that for us to go far in the playoffs we will have to think outside the box and come up with a few surprises for the rest of the year. But, some of the surprises I saw last night will not fly come playoff time.

In the 2nd inning, Willy Aybar lead off the inning with a single to left and was standing on first when Eric Hinske hit a monster liner to deep centerfield. Aybar raced past second and looked towards Third Base Coach Tom Foley who put up the “stop” sign for Aybar.

Eric Hinske being the aggressive bull that he is, was rolling past second with his head down and did not see that Foley had held Aybar before both players were a few feet apart from each other near 3rd base. Aybar had to committ to home becasue Hinske would never have been able to retrack to second base in time. Aybar sprinted to home, and could have made it had he put a shoulder into Yankee’s catcher Jose Molina.

What is so upsettting is that this set the tone for the Rays night. A few miscues and a few odd errors and the game was not in the Rays’ hands anymore. With Johnny Damon playing centerfield, you know you can run on the guy. He is Johnny Damon, but he is also not the same player who has a rifle attached to his arm anymore. I think if Foley had sent Aybar, it would have given the Rays an early pump of energy that they needed in this contest. 

 

Hinske did go 2-3 on the night, with an additional single to center in the 4th inning. Carlos Pena also got into the action early going 2-4 on the night and getting his average almost back to the .250 mark for the season. Pena walked in the first inning, and had an single in the 3rd inning to put B J Upton in scoring position. Carlos also had a double into the right-center gap, but was stranded on base for the Rays.

Cliff Floyd got the scoring started for the Rays on a single to right that scored Upton in the 3rd inning to bring the score to 3-1.  In the 7th inning, Gabe Gross hit a nice ball down the line into the rightfield corner for a double.

 Shawn Riggans then doubled into left to score Gross and make the score 6-2.  Rocco Baldelli came up to bat for Cliff Floyd in the 7th inning and New York countered by bringing in Joba Chamberlain to face Baldelli. Baldelli  was at the plate with Riggans and Akinora Iwamura on base for the Rays. Baldelli swung at the first pitch and hit a grounder to short that Jeter flipped to Cano for the force out at second base.

 

                                           

 

Matt Garza did not seem totally comfortable on the mound last night. The early runs by the Yankees probably did not help in that matter, but the Home Plate umpire’s strike zone also may have contributed to the situation. All night long, Home Plate umpire Brian Runge’s strike zone seemd to be moving and expanding or shortening depending on the pitch.

Several pitched balls were called strike that were clearly beyond the black of the plate and Garza’s frustration mounted. To add further fuel to the fire was the play in the 5th inning on a lightly hit ball in front of the mound hit by Robinson Cano. Garza picked up the ball and tossed it a good 5 feet above Pena’s head for his 1st error of the year.

Garza ended up going 5 innings and gave up 6 runs on 5  hits and striking out only 2 Yankees all night. Garza ended the night by taking his 8th loss of the season.  Last night’s game was Garza’s 50th career start. He also came into the game 12-4 against the AL East this season, and was 7-2 at home this year.  His last start against the Yankees was the May 12th game to win the opening game of the series , which the Rays ended up winning 3 out of 4 games at home against the Yankees.

 

Several plays during the game helped set the tome for the Rays loss. Willy Aybar’s play at third base when he sat back waiting on the ball to come to him gave Derek Jeter a single. Jeter then stole second on a close play by Riggans to Iwamura at second.

Aki could not hold onto the ball, and had Jeter by two steps for the out. Jeter then scored on Jason Giambi’s sacrifice fly to center in the 4th inning. B J Upton made a play to get Jeter at home, but the ball was high and the tag could not be made in time.

 

Sometimes I get sick of bringing this point up in my blogs. The Rays have a great offense and can stand toe-to-toe with any team in the league. But we have a major concern and issue with our hitting with men in scoring position. Last night the Rays out hit the Yankees 12-9. But the kick was that we stranded 10 men on base that could have helped lower the score.

This is not the first time, or maybe the last time this will come up, but it does need to be addressed. The Rays play a more National League style of play on the bases at times, and it has been to their advantage most nights. Last night was just a night where the ball was hit to people and the hits did not come at the best of times for the Rays.

 

 

                      

 

 Jason Hammel ended up celebrating his birthday by giving up Alex Rodriguez’s 30th homer of the night, and moved A-Rod into 12th on the All Time Home Run list with the blast to left-centerfield. Not the kind of present he was expecting last night. 

It is not that Hammel only pitched 21 pitches in the inning, 18 for strikes, it is that the blast put the dagger into the Rays last night. Hammel has had the odd job of finishing or mopping up games for the Rays lately. That can be a blessing or a curse to some pitchers. It seems this is not the calling for this Young pitcher, and it might end up costing him a roster spot in the spring of 2009. 

 

I do not want to end this blog on a negative or somber note today. I want to commend B J Upton for his play last night in the game against the Yankees. In the 2nd inning, Upton prevented an extra base hit, and maybe homer by Rodriguez by sprinting and catching a ball a few feet from the deep centerfield wall. the play was n amazing display of Upton’s speed and gifts in the outfield.

Also, Upoton had two plays at the plate last night in the game. The first never had a chance to get to the plate in time, but it was a rocket online and to the plate to show he does have the ability to get you if he has the right circumstances. The second was a play on Jeter in the 4th inning that was a bit high and outside, but did get to the plate.

This will set in the minds of the team’s we will be playing the rest of the year that Upton does have the ability to get outs from his centerfield position. This could be a great intimidating weapon down the line for the Rays the rest of the season

 

 

 

Rays End August on a Winning Note

 

Rays 10, Orioles 4

 

 

With September 1st call-ups not even 7 hours away now, it will be interesting who will come up early before the Triple-A Durham Bulls playoff games. Becuase of those games, a few well-known names like, David Price, Wade Davis, Jonny Gomes and Dan Johnson will have yo wait until after the playoff run before they find out if they will be in another post season atmosphere with the Rays.

But hopefully, current catcher Mike DiFelice will have a role in the playoff push. The main reason I want to make Mike here is becuase he was here with the team’s first pitch in 1998, and should be relishing the improvements and the excitement of this young franchise finally becoming a force in the AL East.

DiFelice toiled and sweated the young years when victories were rare, and the post season was just a time for the team to gather their thoughts and have a few beverages. But in 2008, the Rays are on the magical carpet ride to shock and awe the competition from now until the final out in Detroit in the regular season. The only thing guaranteed in the playoff picture is that the Rays would not see Boston in the first round, if they rally and capture the wild card spot. It would make bad baseball for those two to battle another 5 out of 7 games after 17 games played during the season. But who knows, life had thrown more curves at the Rays lately than James Shields, so anything is possible.

 

Rays  Magical Number :   22

Rays will need this number of Boston losses or Tampa Bay wins to secure a playoff spot.

 

 

      

 

 

Jason Bartlett again had a amazing day for the Rays. Bartlett went 4-4 with 3 runs scored, and 2 RBI’s for the Rays. But, to top it off, the Rays fans finally got to cheer for a Bartlett homer in the 7th inning. Bartlett was the month of August is hitting .388 with 7 doubles and his first homer of the year. For his career in August, Bartlett is batting .346, which ranks as 4th among active players.

 

 

                           

 

James Shields got his 12th victory of the year while pitching 7 innings of  6-hit, 1-run ball. The lone score against him came in the in the 6th inning when Brian Roberts lead off with a single and finally scored on Kevin Millar’s  fielders choice grounder to third. That was the only run to be scored against Shields all day. In the effort, Shields  picked up only 1 strikeout on the day.

 

 

                                     

 

Shields matched his career high in wins on Sunday during his 79th career start. His 2.41 ERA is second to Cliff Lee in homer ERA in 2008, and is ranked 4th in the majors this year.  Shields has now won 7 out of his 9th starts at home, and for his short career, Shields is 20-8, with a 3.19 ERA in 49 home starts. Shields is also throwing 14 pitches per inning, ranked 5th fewest in the AL.

Let’s put Shields year so far in prospective with his current AL rankings: He is ranked 5th  in innings pitched this season with 184.2 innings. Shields is also 6th in strikeout/walks ratio, and 8th in walks/9 innings in the AL.

 

 

 

 

Also having a terrific game today was Rocco Baldelli from the DH spot for the Rays. Baldelli went 3-3 on the day and slugged 2 doubles past Aubrey Huff at third, down the leftfield line in the game.

 In the 1st inning, Carlos Pena and Rocco scored on Willy Aybar’s single down the leftfield line. In the 3rd inning, Rocco again hit a screamer down the line at Huff to secure his second double.  Baldelli ended up scoring on Jason Bartlett’s single to center.

 

 

                                   

 

Willy Aybar was intentionally walked in the 3rd inning, and got picked off trying to advance to third on Bartlett’s single to center field. Aybar did not aticipate the throw from Jay Payton in center and was picked off in mid-slide into thirds base. Aybar was picked off by Kevin Millar’s intercetion of the throw to home and he had a clear lane to throw out Aybar.

Also getting picked off in this contest was Shawn Riggans in the 2nd inning when he tried to advance to third on his double and was between second and third when Kevin Millar again intercepted the ball and caught Riggans mid-base for the first out of the inning.

 

 

The Rays did get some pay back in the error depeartment when Akinora Iwamura was safe at first on an error by first baseman Kevin Millar. Aki’s play scored Riggans fronm third and put the Rays up 10-1 at the time.

 

 

                     

 

Willy Aybar did commit 2 errors yesterday at third in the game. Aybar committed his first error in the 3rd inning against Juan Castro. The ball hit the heel of his glove and popped a good 20 feet in the air and he could not control it in time to get the speedy Castro. He again had one pop out of his glove in the 8th inning on a liner to third by Lou Mantanez. Aybar did not get a great throw off on the play and Montanez beat it by 3 steps. The 2 errors put Aybar at 5 for the year.

 

 

Trever Miller and Jason Hammel both had a bad outing for the Rays in  mop-up roles for the Rays Miller came on in the 8th inning and  pitched only 12 pitches. Miller  was the pitcher on the mound when Aybar committed his second error of the game.  With Montanez on first, Miller walked Alex Cintron, who came on to hit for Aubrey Huff. For the day, Miller was credited with 1/3 of an inning, and 2 runs in the outing.

 

Hammel came on to close the game out for the Rays with the score at  10-1.  Hammel then walked Millar on 9 pitches to load the bases for Luke Scott.  Scott hit a 1-2 pitch to deep cnter to score both Montanez and Cintron. Oscar Salazar then  hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Millar. B J Upton throw from center was off line and he could not complete the out at home. That put the Orioles close to the Rays with the score 10-4 in the 8th inning. 

 

 

 

A J Scam Dooms Rays

 

 

White Sox 6, Rays 5

 

 

Can there be a Public Enemy number 1 in baseball? Can a persob be so hated he makes you want to spit fire and just wishes for 5 minutes in the parking lot alone with the guy. Well, for me, and maybe Rays Manager Joe Maddon, that guy is White Sox catcher A J Pierzenski. A J  is that kind of snake that crawls on it’s belly and shows its true face every couple of years. Unfortunately, we got to see the slimeball first hand in our Sunday contest against the White Sox.

 

A J  has a history of being a deceptive scum. You might remember a certain Playoff game a few years ago against the LA Angel where a dropped third strike put the entire stadium in panic and the nation wanting AJ’s collective rear for his certain act of theft. Well, AJ pulled off a bigger boner play yesterday that will make the Rays’ fans hate him for more than a few years.

 

In the 10th inning, with the White Sox threatening to take the contest from the Rays, AJ found himself in a pickle of a rundown between second and third base.  He did everything possible to shake the Rays and move forward, but decided to use a bit of visual psyche work and get the Rays to be the bad guy this time. With Willy Aybar barreling down on him with the ball, AJ decided to make a move and fake towards second base and Jason Bartlett. Aybar threw the ball to Bartlett and AJ started his ruse.

 

Pierzenski made a motion to change direction and threw his elbow and body towards leftfield. In that motion, he clipped Aybars arm and the second base umpire decided that AJ had the right to keep going in his tuen and awarded him safe and gave him third base as a prize. It was determined by the umpire that AJ made a clean move towards third and that Aybar blocked his forward progress and interferred with AJ. Well, Maddon came out and went ballistic on the umpiring crew and he had more than that play to be upset about here.

 

It seems that second base umpire Doug Eddings was the guy behind the plate in AJ’s other  baseball scam, and made a fool of Eddings for the second time in his career. The action by AJ was a true and outright farce to the game of baseball. We try and tell our kids in Little League to not cheat and that sportsmanship plays a huge role in life and baseball, then reward a guy like this for a bogus action.

  

 

I am not upset that in the last week the Rays have gotten two blown calls against them. The BJ situation against the Angels might just have been a bad call, but that call did not impact the final outcome of the game.

 

This call gave the White Sox a man at third base, and Pierzenski ended up being the winning run of the ballgame. That is the real tragedy here, the game came down to that one bogue play, and not a great action by either team. I hope we do get another chance at Pierzenski in the playoff’s this year. Maybe pinch-run Jonny Gomes at third and let him loose on AJ after a fly ball to the outfield. Jonny barreling down on AJ and knocking not just the ball, but AJ out of a game might be a great ending to this saga, but with our luck Gomes would be called out for a Pete Rose-type pop of Pierzenski.

 

But I can dream can’t I?

 

White Sox 6, Rays 5

 

 

Rocco again came on as the DH in the game and went before a National Television audience on TBS to show he is healthy and ready to rockj and roll for the Rays. In the contest, Rocco went 2-5 in the game, but contributed with 2 RBI’s and a run scored for the Rays.

 Rocco hit his second homer since coming back to the Rays in the 1st inning with Carlos Pena on base. The 2-run blast put the Rays in front early 2-0 over the White Sox. Baldelli took the first pitch he saw and drilled it 416 feet into the leftffield stands. Coming into the contest, Rocco was 6-10 against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle. Rocco also got a Ground Rule double in the 6th inning that rolled around in the corner for a bit on rightfielder Jermain Dye. Carlos Pena also scored on this play to tie the game at 4-4.

Later in the inning, Baldelli was thrown out at home trying to score. Rocco seemed to be looking back at third baseman Juan Uribe and lost a bit of spped going to home. The throw beat Baldelli with ease and the Rays lost a possible scoring chance.

 

 

Carlos Pena also had a great day for the Rays at the plate going 2-4, with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Pena hit a reached first base on an error by White Sox first baseman Nick Swisher before Baldelli blast to left.  Carlos also had an interesting play in the top of the 6th inning.

 

With the White Sox playing a shift on Pena, he decided to put down a bunt down the third baseline and to the right of pitcher Buehrle. the pitcher could not get the ball in time, and also threw a errant ball to first to  the play.

  

 

The game actually came down to one play in the bottom of the 9th inning for the Rays. With Brian Anderson on second, pinchrunning for Ken Griffey Jr., he went for it all after a single by Paul Konerko. Anderson rounded third and headed for home as Ben Zobrist got the ball in leftfield and tossed a throw towrds home. the ball took three hops before bouncing off the chest protector of Shawn Riggans and Anderson was safe with the tying  run of the game.

 

A better throw by the inexperienced outfielder Zobrist and the game would have ended there. the White Sox had two outs at that moment and the out at home would have neded the game in dramatic fashion. You could see that Riggans tried to get the ball, but it made a short hop right before the plate and made it more difficult for him to take the ball into his glove with Anderson barreling down on him. Instead it gave the Sox a 5-5 tie going into extra innings.

 

  

Rays starter Andy Sonnastine was going for his 14th win of the season on Sunday. That would have tied him with Rolando Arroyo for the tops in  seasonal victories for the Rays. Sonnanstine pitched 6.1 innings of 9-hit, 4-run ball and only posted one strikeout in the game.

 

Andy did give up two homers in the game for the third time this season. In his last 5 starts, Sonnanstine is 3-0, and his current winning percentage of .684 is the best in team history.  Sonnanstine had trouble mostly only in the 4th inning for the Rays. In that inning, the White Sox got Sonnanstine for 4 runs on 4 hits. the first 4 batters in that inning scored on the two homers allowed by Sonnanstine that day.

 

 

Rays reliever Jason Hammel took the loss in Sunday’s game, but I truly feel he did not deserve that fate. The contest was decided by the umpires and not the players on the field.

 

With that in mind, if Rays current closer Dan Wheeler had shut down the Sox in the 9th inning, we would not even be talking about all of this. Wheeler got his second blown save in 10 save appearances this season for the Rays. Wheeler did get two strikeouts in the inning, but gave up a double to Griffey Jr, and a single to pince-hitter Paul Konerko that ended up scoring the tying run for the Sox.

 

 

During this series, the Rays had a chance to get their stolen base totals up significantly since both AJ Pierzenski and Toby Hall do not have impressive total this year throwing out runners. Pierzenski actually has the second worst percentage throwing out men in the AL. The Rays only attempted  1 steal attempt, and that was a successful steal by B J Upton in Friday night’s game. the Rays blew a chance to put pressure on the White Sox pitching staff by running more in the contests.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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. 

 

 

 

Rays go Extra Innings to Lose to Pirates

 

 

Pirates 4, Rays 3

 

Considering the game was delayed almost 45 minutes due to a thinderstorm roaming through the area we got treated to a funny and interesting Bloopers reel by FSN.  I was amzed and relieved at the same time that we did not see any early Rays bloopers, or even any Bucs bloopers from the Creamsicle days.

When the game finally got started there was a threat all night of a potential downpour, but just intermitten streaks of rain fell on the stadium crowd. The Rays were dressed as the Jacksonville Red Caps, complete down to the red pocket top on the pants. Pittsburgh was dressed as the Pittsburgh Crawfords for the contest.

I love seeing these old uniforms and hearing the history of these two teams, but hopefully C.C. got one of the Crawford jerseys for himself. I could see Carl sporting that out on the town while shopping for groceries.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

On April 18,1956, Ed Rommel was the first umpire to wear glasses in a regular season game.

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The Way the Rays have been playing the past few months, Rays Manager Joe Maddon looks like a genius. Well, Maddon did himself one better last night by using two pinch-hitters that connected, and reached base for the Rays.

It was kind of interesting that Rays pitcher James Shields was batting in the 12 inning for reliver Gary Glover. Shields was 1-3 on the year at the plate, and truly seemed to enjoy hitting. Shields hit a soft liner back towards the mound that Pirates reliever T J Beam knocked to the ground, but could not get it to first in time to get Shields. Beam was charged with an error on the play.

The first pinch-hitter gave it his all before striking against the Pirates. Jonny Gomes battled for 15 pitches before connecting on a homer to deep center to tie the game at 3-all for the Rays.  It was Gome’s, 2nd pinch-hit homer of the season.  The last time a hitter got a homer on his 15th pitch was Montreal Expos first baseman Termel Sledge on July 7, 2004 when he connected on his 16th pitch off Braves reliever Antonio Alfonseca.

It was the most pitches a Rays batter had ever seen before hitting a home run. The previous best was Jorge Cantu on Aug 29,2006 when he homered on the 13 pitch from Chicago’s Neal cotts.

 

                                  

 

It was another example of a game that Edwin Jackson did not deserve to get a no-decision on the night. Jackson battled and held the Pirates to 3 runs in his 6.2 innings of work.  Jackson gave up 6 hits and struck out 3 on the night.

Jackson has not been given the greatest run support by the offense on the night that he has pitched this season. Jackson has gotten 2.67 runs out of the Rays batters in his 15 starts this season. That is currently the worst run support of any of the Rays starters. Only Jason Hammel has gotten a lower number ( 2.6 ) in a spot start earlier in the season.

 

          

 

The Rays need to step it up for Edwin when he is on the mound. Because of this lack of power when he is on the mound, the opinion is that he is not a great pitcher. When in reality, he is head over heels better than last season in all areas of his game. His pitches were consistant last night and he only got in a jam once for the Rays. When you have an offense like the Rays, 3 runs allowed in a game should get you a victory.

Jackson is tied with Scott Kazmir for second on the team in quality starts with 7 for the year.

 

The Rays started the game looking like they might blowout the Pirates for the second night in a row.  B J Upton hit the first pitch of the game out to center. Carl Crawford came up next and hit another single to center to move Upton to third.  Crawford the  stole second for his 20th base of the season.

 Evan Longoria came up and hit a Sacrifice Fly to score B J , and it looked like another long night for the Pirates.  In the bottom of the 6th, Eric Hinske doubled to deep left. Dioner Navarro came up and singled to center and Hinske came around to score for the Rays.

The Rays collected  10 hits off Pirate’s pitching, with Jason Bartlett getting 2 hits.

 

The Rays will reach the All-Star break as only the 8th team to post a winning record the season after having the worst record in the league. The Rays are .166 percentage points better this season than last season at this point, the best in the majors this year.

The Rays had their 4-game winning streak snapped last night in their 4-3 defeat at Pittsburgh. It was the Rays longest road winning streak since June 15-22, 2004. The Rays are 10-4 in the last 14 games, all against NL teams.

The Rays will play their 81st game today in Pittsburgh. They are currently on a pace to win 97 games, which is an increase of 30 games over 2007, which would be the 10th best imporvement since 1900, and the best ever by a team that was the worst team in the league the prior year. The current record is 94 wins held by the 1991 Atlanta Braves.

Carl Crawford needs 3 steals to become only the 9th player since 1900 to reach 300 steals before the age of 27.

The Rays Bullpen has held opponents to a .211 batting average this season. If the season ended today, it would rank as the 3rd best  by a MLB Bullpen in the last 50 years. Last year, the opponents batted .303 off the Bullpen, the third highest in the last 50 years. 

The Bullpen’s ERA this year is 3.16, best in the majors. Last season it was 6.16, the worst in the last 50 years

 

Rangers Leave Rays at a Loss

 

 

Rangers 6, Rays 3

 

The following is a reprint of a St Petersburg Times article on the new stadium:

The evolution of the Rays design

RayscurrenttRaysevolve

I thought it might be interesting to see how the ballpark design has evolved. At top is the current proposal. On the bottom (from left to right) is a series of proposed designs from March 2007, May 2007, November 2007 and February 2008.

The deep black line in the bottom row is where the current seawall location is. The original concept called for filling in 2.55 acres of the bay and would have filled in the entire channel between the main land and Demens Landing. (You can click on the bottom row to get a better look). Now only .4 acres of fill will be needed to build the proposed stadium, which should help the Enviormental aspects of the construction.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Ebbets Field organist Gladys Gooding earned her stripes the second day on the job (May 9,1942. As umpires Bill Stewart,Ziggy Sears,and Tom Dunn strolled on the field for the game. Gooding played the classic,”Three Blind Mice.”

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I am again going to shelf “The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” format and just write my opinions and views again on my hometown Rays.  I have been looking for a formative setup for almost 6 months to accompany my Rays coverage, but the Good,The Bad and the Ugly can sometime sometimes be  too one-sided during losing and winning streaks.

Thus, from today on, I am just going to report the things I see, and what I know about the stats and adventure of our favorite team.

                  

I do not know what it is about miscommunication in our outfields. Are our Rays outfielders and infielders a bit too timid at times in voicing their dominating position on flyballs in the game. Twice in Sunday’s contest there were play where the Rays players did not communicate with each other and a hit resulted in each situation. In one situation, between shortstop Jason Bartlett and leftfielder Carl Crawford, the ball ended up costing the Rays a run in the inning. The next batter, German Duran hit a 2-run homer to deep center.

                         

Another play happened between centerfielder B J Upton and rightfielder Gabe Gross. By the video, Gross had  a better bead on the ball and was about to make the catch when B J Upton came into his eyesight and prompted Gross to take his eye off the ball, which fell to the turf. Upton recieved an error on the play, but all could have been prevented if Upton would have just backed-up Gross instead of trying to make the play himself.

                           

BJ Upton and Jason Bartlett do alot to bring this team up to a higher level, but it is the same things that also bring the team down a notch at time becuase of costly errors or mistakes. Boith made critical errors again in the game both on defense and on the basepaths.

Jason Bartlett actually had a bit of a bad hop at short that prompted his error tonight, but he still did not get the ball in play to try and prevent the hit.

                              

B J Upton again was caught stealing second in the first inning and ended the inning by being tagged out. B J  might be 7th in the AL in steals with 20, but he is also tied for 2nd in the AL leader in being caught stealing 7 times this year.  Baserunning is a hit or miss situation most night, for Upton, it is more miss right now.

      

Now on a positive note, B J  made an awesome play in center to rob the Rangers’ Frank Cattalanatto of a basehit.  Upton has been impressive in his only his second season in the outfield making a boatload of showstopping play this year. But his errors and misplays unfortunately are the play that are being seen around the league. B J  is currently tied for 2nd with 7 outfield assists this year.

Let’s stay on the positive track for a minute here. Evan Longoria made an awesome grab of a short foul pop-up from the bat of Bobby Boggs in the 1st inning. Evan laid out in foul territory and took the ball inches fron the turf for the out.

That is only one of the play that will make this Rookie one of the best defensive third baseman in the teams’  history.  I personally have seen my idol, Brooks Robinson make those kind of plays, and he did very well for himself in the game.

            

 

Rays starter Matt Garza went to the mound today undefeated against the Texas Rangers. Garza was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA before today’s start.

Garza never seemed to have his susal stuff today in the game. At one point, during a called pitchout by Dioner Navarro, Garza threw the ball to the backstop for a Wild Pitch. He never seemed to be in a groove and the frustration came to a head in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Dioner Navarro, being the new club house leader for the Rays, came out to try and calm Garza down after the incident. Garza was visibly aggitated and fumed with his catcher on the mound. As Navarro turned to go back to the plat, Rays pitching coach, Jim Hickey came out to try and get Garza’s head back into the game.

All seemed back to normal as Garza got David Murphy to ground out to second for the third out of the inning.

“[Garza is] an emotional guy out there on the mound and I was just trying to basically encourage him to channel his emotions more toward the task at hand versus just kind of wasting it out there,” Hickey said. “And I thought he did a pretty good job after that, because it was a pretty heated situation out there. I believe he retired the next two guys.”

In the dugout, Garza renewed his venom at Navarro and the two battery mates had to be restrained by the players and staff in the tunnel area of the dugout. That cued the end of Garza’s game as he gave up 3 runs on 6 hits for the night. After the game, both players and manager Joe Maddon said the tussle was just frustration and was getting worked out between each other.

“Really, you guys, just describe what you saw,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Write what you saw. It’s something we’re going to take care of. And we’re going to take care of it soon.

Just heat of passion,” Garza said. “We’re both competitors. Whatever happened, we’ll just keep it here and we’ll fix it. … This is a great bunch of guys and everybody is on each other’s side. We can fix it.”

Navarro said the problem was “just something that happened in the game.”

“It happens in the family,” he said. “I think everybody is going to be fine from this point on. It was really nothing.”

When asked if he was “square” with Garza, Navarro replied: “Yeah, we’re fine. We’re a whole family here. [Little] brother fights against older brother, stuff like that. Everything’s straight now.”

Let’s hope for Garza’s sake it is all water under the bridge. the talented righty does not need to develop a strained relationship with his starting catcher.

I have to make an observation here, and tell me if I am wrong people.  But is the umpiring this season a bit below par so far this season, or am I imagining bad calls against our team. The Rays have had a recent history of getting shafted by the men in blue, but some of the called pitched tonight were a bit wild to say the least. TV replays showed the pitches to be low and outside and one player was sure to voice is concerning with the set strike zone.

Eric Hinske, the Rays DH today, decided to question the umpire on a called third strike to him in the 6th inning. Replays showed by reading his lips that Hinske did not use vulgar or obusive language to the umpire, so the ejection is questionable at best here. 

 A few innings later, Akinora Iwamura also got a bad called third strike and did his Ichiro imitation and just looked at the umpire with a puzzled look. 

Jason Hamel, of all the Rays relievers right now, you might be the one Joe Maddon is counting on in this suspension situation for a spot start. You did not help yourself by giving up 3 runs in 3.1 innings tonight against Texas. With that, and the upcoming roster moves because of Troy Percival coming off the DL on Friday, you did not set yourself above the group of “maybe” guys.

I am thiknig that a pitcher will be the guy to go on Friday. There are several guys who are totally safe here, Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller, Grant Balfour, and J P Howell.

Guys who might need to show a bit more on the mound are: Hamel, Al Reyes, and Gary Glover.  My pick is Glover, not becuase of bad outings, I just do not see him in the futre of this ballclub and it might be to his best interest to get on with a club who could use his services every other nightl.

Okay all, that is it for tonight.  Remember, to vote for Evan Longoria as the Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month on MLB.com. 

Also he is a Write-In candidate for the MLB All-Star ballot at third base.  He will get to alot more All-Star games in the future, but this is a chance to get his name out there for nest years’ honor.

I want to Thank Brenton here on MLBlogs.Com for mentioning by Blog on his in the last few days.

Rays fans are coming out of the closet and walking onto the bandwagon in alarming rates. It is great to see another veteran of the lean wins years on this site promoting the ballclub.  I siot in Section 138 at the bottom every game, come on down and say hello anytime.

Cliff

Here is a link to his blog for all my fellow Rays supporter to check out another great Rays writer:

http://Braverays.mlblogs.com

 

 

 

 

 

Fenway Curse gets the Rays again

 

 

Red Sox 5, Rays 1

 

When this roadtrip started, I stated that we might just see what kind of squad we really have here in Tampa Bay. What I am seeing is a hard fighting, slick pitching team that is a bit shellshocked by the last two games.

Rays manager Joe Maddon stated earlier this season that any playoff hopes for anyone in the AL would go through Boston. I truly feel that it is up to this squad to re-energize and focus to strive to get thing back into order. The last two series between these teams were sweeps by the home squad. Tomorrow’s early evening start will tell what will happen totally for the Rays on this roadtrip.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Ty Cobb hit .300 for 23 consecutive seasons, the longest such run of any major leaguer.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

                                          The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                                       The Good

Evan Longoria is stepping up in the absence of slugger Carlos Pena and trying to produce some extra offensive “pop” into the lineup. Longoria went 2-3 tonight and also got a walk in the 5-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Longoria hit a blast to deep center that went for a doulbe and scored the teams’ only run after a Eric Hinske single in the 4th inning. Evan has upped his average to .244 recently and ajusted his swing to get better contact on the ball. His .960 Fielding Percentage is second in the AL, trailing only Boston’s Mike Lowell.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:                

 

***  BJ Upton got his 7th outfield assist tonight on Manny Ramirez trying to score in the bottom of the 7th inning. B J  is currently second in the AL, trailing only Nick Markakis of the Orioles for the lead.

B J  is the Rays best road hitter this season hitting .310 away from the Trop.

**  Akinora Iwamura hit two great shots to right tonight that were robbed by Boston’s J D Drew.  He got two singles later in the night to center and right to up his average to .276.. He has handled the ball 265 times this season.

Eric Hinske knows that he will be the guy the Rays look towards to fill the offensive void left by Carlos Pena’s visit to the DL today. Eric responded  by hitting a rocketing double and a single to score Evan Longoria for the Rays only run tonight. 

 Eric also stole third on Josh Beckett to the amazement of the Rays bench and to the Red Sox’s catcher, Jason Varitek. He  leads the Rays with 20 extra base hits, and is would rank 7th in the AL in Slugging Percentage (.513 ), if qualified.

                                         The Bad

 

Rays long reliever, Jason Hammel has to develop a faster delivery to the plate with men on base. Baserunners have now stolen a base 7 out of 7 times on Hammel this season. With his long extended windup, runners are getting great jumps on him and catcher Dioner Navarro doesn’t have a chance to get an out on them.

The Rays have now visited Boston 25 times without winning a series from the Red Sox. For the Rays to go to the next level of their development, they need to win in the hostile land of  Fenway Park. The playoff will probably go through this park, so the Rays need to develop a better plan of attack on the Red Sox in their next series here September 8-10th.  A mateer of weeks before the playoffs start for the American League.

 

                              

                                              The Ugly

The Rays put slugger Carlos Pena on the 15 Day Disabled List today because of a  crack in his finger after being Hit By a Pitch in the game Tuesday night.  Pena went through the game and produced a double and a homer before developing a throbbing pain in the evening at the team hotel.

Pena was examined by Rays Trainer Ron Porterfield in the room and informed Rays Manager Joe Maddon. Pena wanted to try and play through the injury, but the team doctors’ convinced him that the situation could get worse and he could be spending even more time away from the diamond.

The Rays are still optimistic that the team will rally around the injury and other members of the team will step up for the Rays. Eric Hinske and Wily Aybar will get the bulk of the time at first base in Pena’s absence.

“It’s a pretty good test right now,” Maddon said. “It’s equivalent to the SATs in some respects right now. You have to play through these kinds of things to be good. And we have very worthy replacements. The lineup we’re putting out there tonight is a pretty good lineup, also. Of course you never want to lose Carlos and you never want to lose Percy or Carl, but it happens. In the course of a championship season, it happens. And we just have to deal with it and move on, like everybody else does.”

“I’m extremely heartbroken, because I want to be out there playing,” Pena said. “It is what it is, but at this moment, I’m just going to go through the process to get better.”

“We understand we have to overcome adversity to become a championship team,” Pena said. “We have all the necessary tools, including the most important one, which is character. This is a team, not a one-player scene here. My absence should have no effect on how we go.”

 

Rookie Rockets Rays Past A’s

 

Rays 7, Athletics 6

 

Worst part of a game starting at 9:30 at night, you might not get to the pillow until maybe 1 AM. Worst part of last night’s game, what pillow?.  When you win a game like that, the “zombie” walk that is part of the next day is acceptable behavior in my book. Hopefully my customers will not ask me any questions, for I will be sleeping on my feet today……….snore….

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Until 1954, players were able to leave their gloves on the field while their team batted.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters

 

                                    The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                                     The Good

 

The Rays rookie, Evan Longoria has had a dream year so far in 2008. He is leading all AL third baseman in fielding percentage (.997), he has been rewarded with a long term contract by the club, and he is hitting the ball like a guy who has been here for a long time.

People forget he was not with the Rays for the first 10 games of the year But since then, you can’t get the kid off the hot corner.

                                 

Longoria went 3-6 last night with 3 RBI’s. Evan also got a stolen base off of Kurt Suzuki and Keith Foulke in the top of the 8th inning.  To put the icing on the cake, Longoria got his 2-run shot of former Ray Chad Gaudin in the top of the 13th inning.

 

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

 

*** Akinora Iwamura is siliently putting together another hitting streak for the Rays. At the beginning of the year, it looked as though Aki would not be a good lead-off candidate for this Rays squad.

Since then, he has come through in the clutch and shown he can deliver in the top spot.  With 29 hits in May, Aki leads the AL in that category and only trails Houston’s Lance Berkman by 6 for the MLB lead in hits this season in the month of May.

              

** When Jason Hammel was demoted to the bullpen after Scott Kazmir came back, he took it in stride and still worked out strong and hard to keep in the mind of manager Joe Maddon.

Hammel pitched 3 innings last night and helped the Rays protect the lead with 1 hit and three strikeouts in his outing. Hammel was rewarded with his 3rd win of the season for his efforts.

                    

* Eric Hinske leads the Rays with 18 extra base hits this season. His 2-run homer to tight in the 5th inning started the scoring for the Rays tonight.

His 8th homer this year is two more than he had all last year with  the Boston Red Sox.  Hinske also got one of the Rays 5 doubles on the night in the 3rd inning.

                               

                                                      The Bad

When Frank Thomas came to the Oakland A’s after being let go by the Toronto Blue Jays, most people felt he might be entering his last sunset in the MLB.

Do not tell Frank that, as he belted two homers off Rays starter James Shields tonight. For the night, Shields gave up 3 homers, two to Thomas and one to Emil Brown.

Before tonight, Shields had only given up two homers the entire season. His control was not amazing tonight as his cheangeup was missing the corners all night long. Shields did not look comfortable ot there and struggled in his 7.2 innings. He gave up 5 hits and 5 earned runs tonight, while only striking out 3 batters.

                                       

                                                        The Ugly

I must say the biggest “Ugly” in tonight’s game is the tarp covered upper deck area of Oakland’s stadium. It is in that ugly dark green hue that makea a great backdrop, but takes the beauty of the stadium away and just make sit look drab and dull.

                               

Players have said that this stadium is the worst for sun-aided outfield drops and mis-plays. The outfield sun backdrop is a monster in the early evening as the sun that beats down  at an 85 degree angle on you. Shades and your hand covering your eyes to adjust to the sun do not help in this stadium. Most times you just have to hope you have great positioning as the ball makes its ascent to the turf. 

Oakland’s own player Jack Cust seemed to have that same situation last night in the top of the 3rd inning on a double by Eric Hinske.

Cust looked to have the play, but when the ball got within 10 feet of him he froze and could not locate the ball in the setting sun. The ball fell a few feet to the right of where he was standing and trickled to the wall before centerfielder Ryan Sweeney retrived the ball for the A’s.

 

        

Former Rays Player of the Night:

                                                                 

When the Rays traded Brendan Harris to the Twins in the off season, more than one Rays fan cried “foul.” They did not see why you would get rid of a guy who was a working class baseball player, who did his job nightly and did not seek the limelight for himself.

Well, Brendan, you are my ex-Ray of the night because of your 3-5 night against the Texas Rangers.  Harris was listed as the Twins DH for the night, until taking over at short in the extra innings.  Harris currently hitting .262 for the Twins.

 

 

Tonight is a another late start ( 10:05 P.M.) with Scott Kazmir taking the mound for the Rays.  I am not sure if I am going to make this telecast, but we shall see………..if the kids let me catch a catnap, I might actually see a bunch of innings.

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