Results tagged ‘ Jesse Litsch ’
I thought for about three innings and came up with a list of three guys I truly thought had a chance to hit that magical segment of a single, double, triple and then a homer. I came up with the trio of Dave Martinez (who got the Rays first hit ever), Quentin McCracken and Miguel Cairo.
But what is so amazing is that we have played 1,845 games as a franchise and we still have not had any player hit for that elusive prize. I mean we have had plenty come close, including 5 in 2008, but no one has gotten to that golden moment yet for the Rays. So it kind of caught me by surprise last night after the game checking out the box score and seeing that both Ben Zobrist and Gabe Kapler only missed the magical moment by not getting a double in last night’s 12-4 Rays victory.
What was truly amazing to me is that both guys had the worst part of the cycle out of the way by the start of the 7th inning with Kapler getting the early nod by getting both his triple and home run by the end of the third inning. Another outstanding statistic is that Zobrist and Kapler each got hit in the same inning three times in that contest.
They started their scoring in the top of the second inning when Zobrist got on with a infield single to third, then Kapler scored Zobrist on his triple to deep left-centerfield. The in the top of the third inning, Zobrist hit the first pitch he sees for a triple to deep centerfield to lead-off the inning. Kapler then comes up and homers to leftfield to again score Zobrist in the game.
Then again in the seventh inning, Zobrist comes up with two outs and hits a 2-1 pitch out of the ballpark in leftfield. Kapler then comes up and get a single to rightfield. Zobrist had another chance to get his cycle, but he hit a ball back to Rockies reliever Matt Daley that he easy converted for the third out of the inning. The night was a huge explosion for the entire Rays offense as they won their sixth game in a row and ended the Rockies own 11-game winning streak.
But was last night’s attempt by two Rays players a good indicator of the type of offense this team can post at anytime in 2009. Gabe Kapler is currently on a 4-game home run and RBI streak, plus he has gone 7 for 11, with 10 RBI in his last four games. Could we finally be seeing the hitter the Rays envisioned when they signed Kapler on January 12, 2009. Then you have Zobrist, who has emerged as the Rays secret weapon after injuries have made the club utilize him everyday instead of as a platoon or late inning replacement/pinch-hitter.
David Zalubowski / AP
Zobrist has also been on quite a tear recently going hitless in only two of his last ten games. He has gone 14 for 35 (.400) with 4 homers and 7 RBI, but it is his 14 runs scored that have been the biggest indicator of his surge for the Rays. He has also walked 7 times in those 10 games and stolen 2 bases to become an all-around player for the team. And this is not the first time in 2009 that Zobrist has gotten near the cycle.
And to just show how explosive the entire team can be this year, including last night, the Rays have had 11 players just this season who have had chances to get the cycle for the Rays. Starting with Evan Longoria on April 9th needing just a triple to complete his during the Rays 4-3 win in Fenway Park. Longoria again almost got the cycle in another game against the Red Sox on April 30th at Tropicana Field during a 13-0 win over the Red Sox. He missed with only a triple again. But he was not the only Rays to have a shot at the cycle that day. Back-up catcher Miguel Hernandez had a career day going 4 for 5 and also missed the cycle with a triple that day.
In a 7-3 loss to the Red Sox in their second trip to Fenway on May 8th, the usual suspect for the cycle, Carl Crawford only missed with a home run from getting the feat. He did have a ball bounce into the stands in deep centerfield that could have been a close inside-the-park home run if it had not gone into the stands. Then on May 15th with the Cleveland Indians at home, B J Upton had a chance to put his mark on Rays history, but also missed out with a triple. Two days later Jason Bartlett got a chance at the mark, but he too came up short needing a home run to complete the feat.
Then someone you would not expect, Gabe Gross who has seen limited duty this year as a platoon member in rightfield got a chance to set the mark on May 22nd in the Rays 15-2 win over the Florida Marlins. Gross also missed the mark with only getting a single, double and a homer in the game. And so far in June, the Rays have had four players now who have attempted to get a cycle for the squad. Before last night’s heroics, Matt Joyce, who was only up for a limited time also had a chance for a cycle on June 2nd in a 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. Joyce also came up a triple short of getting the first cycle in Rays history.
But the wildest part of it all is that Zobrist now has had two chances, just in June 2009 to get a cycle. Besides last night’s attempt, he had another on June 7th in Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees, but he again fell just a double short of the cycle. What is even more amazing is that he has now had three chances since September 27, 2008 to get the Rays cycle record. On the September 27th game against the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park, Zobrist again came up short, but this time he could not get a triple to complete the cycle.
The Rays have had a chance 11 times in 2009. For the entire 2008 season they only had 5 players even get close to trying for a shot at Rays history. It began with the Disney World series when the Rays took on the Toronto Blue Jays on April 22nd. Ex-Rays bat boy Jesse Litsch was on the mound and Eric Hinske hit three extra-base hits to fall only a single short of the cycle for the Rays. In that contest, in the only other at bat for Hinske in the game, he struck out swinging to end his quest in the eighth inning. One of the guys you might least expect to have a shot at a cycle actually got pretty close in 2008. Dioner Navarro was having a great first half to the season and picked a May 8th game against the Toronto Blue Jays to try and make a claim for the cycle record.
In that game, Navarro hit a Grand Slam to win the game for the Rays in the 13th inning, but he missed the cycle by a triple that night. But the event was considered a turning point for the young Rays team, so missing the re
cord might not have been a bad thing that night. It was three months before anyone else had a shot at a cycle for the Rays when on August 2nd, Evan Longoria tried to make his mark, but he also came up a triple short in the Rays 9-3 win over the Tigers at Tropicana Field.
A wild statistic is that in the last three attempts by Rays players to hit for the cycle in 2008, they all came against the same team, the Detroit Tigers. First we had Longoria on August 2nd come up short. The next player to have a chance at Rays immortality was Upton on the same night( September 26, 2008) that the Rays clinched their first American League East title. Upton’s chance at the cycle was overshadowed by the big event as he only fell a triple short of the cycle after beating out a throw for an infield single to even have a shot at the historic mark. And of course, the next day, Zobrist had his chance to also add his name to Rays history.
All in all since the beginning of the 2998 season, 16 Rays players have had a chance to finally put their name on the Rays history book as completing a cycle during a game. The Rays might have gone 0-16 in that time, but in 2008, they went 4-1 when a player was attempting to go for the record. And so far in 2009, the team has gone 8-1 when a Rays batter has been attempting to go for the cycle. And also of note, for the first time in two seasons, two player have been just short of cycles in two different games only 46 days apart.
With the Rays offense cranking on all 8 cylinders right now there will be more chances for the team to flex its muscle and give more guys chances to finally put their name into the Rays record books as the first player to hit a cycle for the Rays. I can not even guess who the first one will be anymore. Almost everyone in the lineup can have an outstanding game and transform a simple game into a historic event.
But I would not bet against Crawford and Zobrist right now, both players have the ability and the speed to finally give us an answer to that question asked back in 1998. Who do you think will get the first Rays cycle?
I decided to venture over to Myspace the other day to check my
mail and maybe tweak my profile a bit when I noticed that I had a message. I
clicked on it and lo and behold had an email from the Cowbell Kid. Now anyone
who knows me will tell you I had a few small run ins with him, but nothing
serious about respect for the game and some behavior I heard about in the past.
But I do have to throw this compliment out there to him, he has made efforts to
clean and polish his act up a bit since late last year, and for that I sit back
and say thank you.
who has ever taken in a game at the Trop will know that he was famous, or
infamous for yelling at players during Batting Practice about certain
inconsistent behaviors in their past or in their playing styles. It is no secret
that he got more than one player a bit upset. I personally know of one incident
last year that got one player almost to the point of jumping into the stands and
taking him on during a weekend series against the Astros. I am not going to name
the player, but if you were at the Trop that Saturday night, you know who he is
by the yelling and screaming go to and from the
was part of his game psyche, to try and get into the head of mostly the
relievers or right fielder in the league. Now there have been a few moments
where personal stuff might have popped down between himself and another player
that were not above board, but that is in the past, and that play is no longer
on the New York Yankees, so it is in the vault with the rest of the deeds. But
since that has been one of his focal points over the year, he emailed me with a
problem he is just now starting to develop because of some recent trades or
actions by the Rays to change their
going to take the quote directly from his email so you can see that I am not
making this up, or trying to embarrass him. He said, “Here’s where it gets
tricky I have grown fond of some of the players that will no longer be a part of
our team, usually I will abuse any opposing players just because they are not on
the Rays team! But because of the respect some of these guys have gained in my
eyes I am going to have to be selective about my targets. ( never thought that
would ever be a problem for me ) oh well .”
know that will be a problem for him in 2009 and the season that will go on for
the Rays. I know he has a fond friendship and a game day type of bond with
former Rays players like Jonny Gomes, who is now with the Cincinnati Reds, and
Rocco Baldelli, who is now a dreaded Boston Red Sox. Because he is one of the
most vocal fans about the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, it is going to be
interesting what will happen during B P in 2009. But then again, he will also
see Gomes during Spring Training games, and it might be a tense moment for him
to see Jonny in red and white for the first
I know I
have had the same situation since the Rays began play. I would begin to talk
with a player and develop a bit of dialogue and when they were in the Bullpen or
out in right field I used to chat it up with them a bit, but when they left, I
did not stop trying to chat with them. My reasoning for this is that we are both
in love with the same thing………Baseball, and that common ground has a huge
amount of conversational pieces. A great example is former Rays right fielder
Jose Guillen. I used to yell out to him every game and even try and tell him if
a player was taking a wild turn at this if the ball came into the corner near
not to confuse or to even play coach, but to be his eyes when he had his back to
the field. I got to know him better and every time he comes back into the Trop.,
he comes over and say hello. Other players like Shawn Camp, who is now with the
Toronto Blue Jays have come over and shook hands and then got to their business.
But the best at keeping his old Tampa Bay baseball friendships up was former
Rays catcher Toby Hall. Every time the Chicago White Sox came into town, he would
stroll down to the corner and we would talk about his time in Chi-town and how
his kids were growing. Hall and I never went out fishing or even for more than
beers at Ferg’s, but we always seemed to have time to talk even during games
when he was in the Bullpen.
It is a
fine line and a personal choice if you want to remain friends or just change it
to a buddy who plays for the enemy. I was talking with former Rays player Joey
Gathright about that last year after a game and he said that it was tough
sometimes to come back here and see the people who cheered for him now booing
some of his actions. But he also knows that he can not pull punches or even
slack off a moment in front of his former home crowd or it would give them
another reason to boo louder to him. And there lies the problem. Can we as fans
of our team separate the player from the team, or are they a whole not matter
takes that problem and decides for themselves. I stood up and cheered for Texas
Ranger outfielder and former Rays Josh Hamilton the first time he came up to bat
at the Trop., and I am not ashamed of it at all. Some things happen in life that
you need to celebrate or show your appreciation to a player. The first time
Rocco Baldelli comes to bat I will also stand and clap. It is my way to salute a
great player that we will miss not only in the lineup, but talking with
field-side before the games. But then again, I have also mourned the loss of
two great former Rays players who I think were stand up guys and died way before
speaking of former Rays pitchers Joe Kennedy and Cory Lidle. I am not going to
go into the moments or the reason for their deaths, but they were moments that
made me question baseball and life in general for a moment in time. I was not a
close friend of either guy, but we did have conversations and used to talk down
in the Checkers Bullpen area any time they came into the Trop. It was a baseball
buddy kind of bonding that you just wanted them to be successful and have a
great life. I have written blogs about each of them, and my blog to Lidle was my
first sports entry in years on my old Myspace page. I have since removed the
posting and it is sitting in my blog scrapbook where only I can read it
So it is
now my place to celebrate baseball, and when it comes to our former players, I
try and keep in touch with them when they come into the Trop. Be is chatting
with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch, who last year told me about his new
home purchase in a great area west of Pinellas Park, Florida, or Brandon Backe
standing there talking with a group of Rays fans talking about nothing in
general, but loving every minute of it. So do we as fans, try and keep these
small friendships or baseball buddy situation alive and well, or do we let them
die because they are playing for another
to decide on a individual basis. There are players who I do not chat with that I
used to laugh at jokes with and see outside the stadium all the time. Even if
the player did not leave here without throwing insults or comments at the team’s
management, I do not hold them accountable because they spoke their minds and
the issue is closed. But it is hard to gain some face time with a player and get
to know them and then they get traded or sign as a free agent somewhere else.
best example might be Rays relievers Dan Wheeler and Trever Miller. I was not
close to either of these guys the last time they were here. We would exchange
comments and glances as they passed my seat, but it was not until they came back
to Tampa Bay after stints with the Houston Astros that the respect and the bond
grew. Every day they would pass my seat area and we would chat with them for a
few moments, and during the year, if I missed a game , they noticed and asked me
where I was, like friends sometimes do. And that meant a lot to me. But it was
the day after the Rays clinched their first playoff berth that really set the
tone for me with my Bullpen guys.
given one of the champagne bottles used in the celebration by a member of the team, and I asked Wheeler
if he would mind signing it for me. He took the bottle back in its bag and it
stayed back there for about 4 innings. He ended up having everyone in the Rays
Bullpen sign that bottle and then brought it back to me. I stood there and just
stared at the bottle for a bit then remembered why I like to talk to these guys.
They are good people, and even the short times we chat with them are remembered.
Guess sometimes there can be bonds outside the foul lines in baseball. So with
that, here is a question for you. Do you maintain your friendships and
conversation with your ex-players, even if they are playing for a division
All pictures used in this blog were obtained from the RRCollections.
Trivia for the Day
Rays’ Left fielder Carl Crawford got his 1,000 hit tonight. That is a major
feat for the 26 year old.
Which two pitchers gave up the most hits to All-time Hits King Pete Rose?
Phil Niekro( 64 hits) and Don Sutton ( 60 hits).
Good, The Bad,and The Ugly
It was a perfect night to be a Tampa Bay
Rays fan. You saw a wild pitching performance by both starters until
they settled down, then they took command of the plate for awhile. Then the
sleeping Rays bats came alive like a lightning bolt and tore into the Orioles
pitchers’. It was a night where the longest tenured Ray,
Carl Crawford got his 1,000th hit in the 7th inning off Orioles reliever Jamie
Crawford became just the 8th active player
to reach the 1,000 hit mark at 26 or younger. He is in an elite crowd that
includes, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert
Pujols. But Carl’s great feat was not the only bright
spot in this night. The top honor goes to:
Rays first baseman Carlos Pena.
Carlos had a personal hand in helping the
Rays score their first 6 runs tonight. And he did it in perfect “El Presidente”
fashion. Carlos belted two home runs, which accounted
for 5 Rays runs, then he walked with the bases loaded to help record his 6th
RBI of the night. At a time when the Rays first four batters
were going into a short dry spell, the bunch lifted their team and their
battting averages to help the Rays even their season record at
But there were many stars of this game. I
could name almost every member of the team who pitched or batted tonight, but
here is a select three for your viewing pleasure.
*** Recently acquired Right Fielder, Nathan
Haynes went 3-5 and stole a base tonight and while on base,o put pressure on
the Orioles pitchers because of his base stealing ability.
** Center fielder BJ Upton got a few lucky
breaks and bounces tonight to go 3-5 himself, and also collect 2 RBI’s in the
later innings. Upton also got the good fortune of a wild play at second to
record his first Outfield assist of the year.
B J was throwing home to get a advancing
runner, when Carlos Pena cut off the ball and toss it to second base. The only
problem was there was no one there at the moment to receive the ball. Out of
nowhere come a leaping Jason Bartlett to tag Ramon Hernandez sliding into second
base. A wild play indeed. Worthy of a ESPN Top 10
* The number one honorable mention has to go
to Rays management and Andrew Friedman for finally seeing the light and bringing
up uber third base prospect Evan Longoria. Just because he as a sexy name, do not get
confused that he is a pretty boy, or not a guy chomping at the bit to get his
MLB career going.
I personally think that the Rays walk up
game attendance will go up 10-20 percent in this one game because of his MLB
debut. Who would not want to be at the debut of such a talented and well
received player. ESPN’s Peter Gammons and Buster Onley have
nothing but praise about this kid, and I , personally, have been impressed by
his demeanor and his professionalism during Spring Training. I think in 10 years I can say with total
confidence that I will be glad to be at his first game EVER at this
In a game like this, it is hard to harp or
even want to put a “bad” on here, but I have a concern that I want to address
here. James Shields is currently our top of the
rotation guy. I know he is hitting a few rough patches, but he had some serious
control and location problems for the first two innings of this
He is currently posting a 3.00 ERA, which is
respectable and shows he is improving more and more every outing. I had to find
a “bad” in all the great and good moments of this game. I know that Shields just
had an off night, and I will not spout stats or problems I see here tonight. I
want to celebrate the fact we are starting to gel and need to just enjoy the
With that in mind, I do have two really ugly
The first ugly is the fact it was $ 1.00 hot
dog night at the Trop. Now, I did not tackle or even try and top my previous
record of 15 dogs. I decided my girlfriend likes a more svelte and more
attractive guy, so I only had 5 dogs ( With kraut, spicy mustard and relish, No
ketchup ). But the people around me must have had a
really bad kraut and spicy mustard dog jones, because after the game I saw
hundreds and hundreds of those aluminum wrappers all over my section of the
stadium. I even saw two by the Bullpen. Maybe one of the guys could smell all
those dogs and had to get one for himself.
The carnage of those wrappers and the smell
of cooking meat in that stadium would send a vegetarian to their graves. No
tofu dogs tonight. All American, Red,White and Blue, Hebrew National Hot Dogs.
I wonder if the buns are
The second “Ugly” kind of ticked me off. It
was a bunch of closet Yankee fans heckling Al Reyes about the events that
unfolded the prior night. The guys decided to take it upon themselves
to try and humiliate and intimidate Reyes while he was warming up on the
mound. I guess these guys were out getting their
first beer when Reyes apologized to the team, its fans and anyone who would
accept. Al is a great guy and an outstanduing asset to this team.
Every one of us has made a mistake and it was
not played up on your Television screen. The only effects Reyes showed the fans
from last night was the cut on the side of his nose that he received in the
incident. The heckles went over the line and the fans
began to turn on them. I think they also felt that these guys had finally
crossed that line into vulgar, drunken-ize that tends to upset eveyone within
the sound of their voices.
The stadium security and St. Petersburg
Police Department stepped in and reminded the guys that it was within their
rights to banish them from future events at the field if they continued their
assault on Reyes character. I have to say, I stood up and looked the one
guy in the eye and he had commented to others, “What you going to do about it,”
but he did not say that to me.
Former Rays player of the
I have decided, since it is my blog and I can rewrite the
rules, I will present the best performance by an ex-Rays ballboy instead
While attending Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg,
Florida, Jesse Litsch was a Rays bat boy. During that time he spent hours with
the pitchers and the coaches on improving his pitches and hoping to some day
pursue a professional career. Jesse has now been in the majors for almost one year, and is
currently in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation. He is off to a great start this
year and I am going to showcase his effort tonight against the Texas
He pitched 5.2 innings tonight and allowed 6 hits and 2 runs. He
also had 5 strikeouts in the game. Jesse only threw 93 pitches before leaving
with a lead tonight. The Blue Jays won the game, and Jesse improved to 2-0 for
the season. The reason he is showcased is for the younger ball players to
know that even though you are playing Little League right now, if you want it
bad enough, you can achieve it.
And only 4 short years ago, Jesse was thinking the same thoughts
while guarding the Rays Bullpen catcher and the staff from balls in
play……and now he is wearing a MLB jersey every day.