Results tagged ‘ Rolando Arroyo ’

Hellboy Might Need a Handyman

I can imagine that Tampa Bay Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson will have a special carpentry project to complete in the near future. I can definitely imagine a particular DIY (do-it-yourself) project to be penciled in bold letters on the Hellboy’s off-season “Honey-Do” list.

I can visualize him now peering over expansive pile of timber with the same intensity and commitment he showed 29 times during 2011 as he took the mound. Bet he is even wearing a Rays game day cap on his head, with a pencil fashioned behind his ear. Just like sheriff Brody needed a “Bigger boat”, Hellboy is definitely going to be in the market for a trophy case addition soon.

Recently Tampa Bay Rays rookie starter Jeremy Hellickson got the fantastic news back home in Des Moines, Iowa that he had been selected as the 2011 Baseball America M L B Rookie of the Year. Joining the ranks of Baseball America past R O Y winners such as Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols (2001), Diamondbacks SP Brandon Webb (2003), Tigers SP Justin Verlander (2006), Brewers OF Ryan Braun (2007), Tigers, Cubs C Geovany Soto (2008) and Giants C Buster Posey (2010).

Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America (B B W A A) will not officially announce their respective National League or American League Rookie of the Year Award winners until November 14th but history is definitely tilted Hellboy’s way as 8 out of the last 11 M L B seasons, the Baseball America R O Y selection also heard his name announced as their respective league’s R O Y award winner in mid-November.

Hellboy also ended the National League’s 4-year grip on the award and Hellickson became not only the first pitcher to stake claim to the award, but also the first American League player to win the honor since Detroit Tigers rookie SP Justin Verlander back in 2006. This same Baseball America MLB Rookie of the Year honor eluded former Rays standouts Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Joe Kennedy, Rolando Arroyo, plus current stars 3B Evan Longoria and SP David Price. Interesting enough, former Rays 3B/DH Eric Hinske (2002) and SP Hideo Nomo (1995) won the same award, but not as Rays.

Amazing that Hellickson in his first full MLB season posted a .210 opponents batting average, which ranked 3rd in the MLB behind possible Cy Young candidates Verlander and Los Angeles Dodger hurler Clayton Kershaw. Didn’t hurt that the young Rays starter saved his best for later in the 2011 season as Hellboy bolstered a 2.64 ERA from the All-Star break to the end of the 2011 season, plus garnered a coveted American League Divisional Series pitching assignment.

Hellickson is definitely another reason to feel optimistic coming into the Spring of 2012 when he will not only have another year under his belt, but possibly possess even a few more tweaks to his pitching arsenal. With that in mind, maybe there should be a tweak to Hellickson’s DIY project plans, possibly re-configuring his carpentry plans to include an addition to his home. Got a feeling this is the first wave of many shiny pieces of MLB acknowledgment that Hellboy will receive in his career.

If you need help Jeremy, I am pretty good with a tape measure and a circular saw.

Using the “Tampa” Name does the Rays No Favors

 

 
Chris O’Meara/AP

I guess no one told the Tampa Bay Rays players the history behind the Tampa Tarpons. How this franchise was one of the charter members of the Florida State League and finished last in 1919,their first season of existence in the new Class-D league. But this proud former farm system stop of the Cincinnati Reds did turn it around the following season and posted a 84-28 season for a .745 winning percentage, still tops in FSL history. Or maybe someone left out the tales of this franchise playing every season from 1919 to 1987, except for the four years that most baseball disbanded during World War II.

That the former home of the Tarpons, Al Lopez Field used to be just to the south of the former Tampa Stadium complex before it was finally razzed and demolished to give way to more parking spaces for the Tampa Sorts Authority. The Tarpons were sold in 1988 after Malcolm F. “Bunny” Mick and his brother Mitchell decided to get out of the baseball business. The team was in a state of hiatus until 2002 and re-emerged as the Jupiter Hammerheads.

And how many Rays players knew that in 1961 a young hustler named Pete Rose got his start up the Cincy food chain in Tampa where he batted .331, set a record of 30 triples ( still a FSL record) and also lead the FSL in errors. All this while also helping the Tarpons to the FSL Championship that season.

Other former Reds players who made a stop with the Tampa Tarpons include Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, Charlie Liebrandt, Ken Griffey Sr., Tom Browning and Dave Concepcion. The history involved with this storied franchise is amazing, and should have been a huge inspirational push for the Rays to beat the Baltimore Orioles tonight. The Rays did channel a bit of the Tarpon mystic tonight, but not the positive aspects we were hoping for in the end.

 
RRCollections

The 1970 Tampa Tarpon squad that the Rays honored tonight while wearing their classic uniforms went 64-68 in the 1970 FSL West division. They squad scored a total of 433 runs, but also allowed 452 runs. It was a pretty mediocre team that was led by Manager Richard Kennedy. Most of the players on the 1970 Tarpon squad were between 19 and 23 years of age. It was a Class-A farm team of the Cincinnati Reds organization at that point, and only had a small handful of player who advanced through the Red’s system.
Players like Dan Driessen, Nardi Contreras, Rawly Eastwick, Tom Spencer and Joel Youngblood were the only notables from the 1970 Tarpon squad to make their way up the Reds farm system ladder.

Contreras was also the only Tampa, Florida native on the team’s roster. The top producer on that season’s team was Spencer who hit for a .285 average with 5 HR, 50 RBI and 21 SB in 130 games.

So maybe the Rays were channeling a bit of that 1970’s Tarpons team last night. Maybe they can find solace in the fact the Rays front office picked a team that did not reach the .500 mark in their season as their “Turn Back the Clock” brethren last night.
 
The Rays front office gurus might do the Rays a little favor in 2011 by checking the references and the statistics of the teams they are going to represent before deciding on the city, team and final standings in that season’s league. With that in mind, let me make a suggestion for the 2011 Rays “Turn Back the Clock” representative team.

 
Chris O’Meara/AP

I am thinking it should be either the 1968 St. Petersburg Cardinals who finished 96-43 (.691) and had hitters like Pedro Borbon, Boots Day, Jerry DaVanon and young First Baseman named Jose Cruz. Or maybe we can remember the Rays first team to win a Divisional Championship in their farm system, and honor the 1997 St. Petersburg Devil Rays who won the 1997 FSL Championship in their first year in the league. They were backed by a 81-56 record that season and had a host of future Rays on their squad.

This roster included a 19-year old Jared Sandberg, pitchers Mickey Calloway, and Rolando Arroyo. This team also had local baseball stars Scott Romano (Tampa), John Kaufman (Tampa), John Cafaro (Tampa) and Greg Blosser (Manatee).

Considering the “Tampa” name on the jerseys last night did not produce any sizeable advantage or confidence, maybe the Rays might be wise to again grasp their St. Pete roots and bring home a victory next year when we “Turn Back the Clock”.I almost forgot this nifty nugget of 1970 FSL information. During the 1970 FSL season, the Baltimore Orioles Class-A affiliate in the league was the eventual 1970 FSL Champions, the Miami Marlins. How ironic is that.
 

Rays Star Shine Bright in Price’s Universe

 
 

15 may just be a series of number to you and me. The number 15 might not suggest or emulate anything out of the ordinary to us, but to one Tampa Bay Rays starter, it is the beginning of finally grasping that golden ring and encompassing a major breakthrough both for himself, and for his Rays club. 15 is usually associated with the time most of us get our first chance to venture onto the highways and byways with our parents in the passenger seat of the family car. But for Rays starter David Price, 15 is just a huge stepping stone moment to get to another huge plateau in his young pitching career…..His 20th win.

For some reason people put a major emphasis on that one two-digit number (20) as the initial entry point towards pitching greatness. Even with both Leagues giving relief pitchers more opportunities to take precious wins away from the game day starters, that illustrious number is still a symbolical threshold of establishing a lasting impression of pitching supremacy. And with Price now ¾’s of the way to that historical mark, each step forward in the wins column, Price will rewrite another strong pitching entry into Rays pitching record books.

For the past two starts, Price has shared the Rays record books with James Shields, Edwin Jackson and Rolando Arroyo as the only four-some to achieve at least 14 wins during a Rays single season. Last night, even with a few shaky moments, Price walked solo into the spotlight as the Rays lone 15 game winner. And with a possible 10 starts still on the horizon in 2010, Price could have a great chance to step to the forefront in Rays history with each start and could possibly become their first 20-game winner. But that 10 game slate is a long and perilous journey that could be altered or even reshaped throughout the rest of the season by Rays Manager Joe Maddon, or unforeseen obstacles or pitching limits later in the season.

Price could be the last Rays starter to take the pitching mound, in the last game of the 2010 season against the Kansas City Royals in Kaufman Stadium with a chance to establish another level of Rays pitching history. It would be another bright star in Price’s 2010 universe that has seen him quickly post 10-wins and maintain his uncanny control and command along the way. His extremely impressive start in 2010 provided Price with the great honor of starting the 2010 All-Star game after getting the nod from a rival Yankees Manager who could have chosen one of his own, but admitted Price dominated the competition early on in 2010.

 

Price is also beginning to get another extremely important reputation among his Rays teammates, he is becoming the team’s losing streak buster. With his win last night, Price effectively doused the Rays 5-game debacle streak that saw the Rays lose their last two contests at home against the Twins before getting swept in bold and uncharacteristic fashion by divisional foe, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays had the right cure for their losing aliment as Price had won his previous start against the Tigers at home in a 4-2 victory just a few weeks beforehand. Price’s 15th win last night came in his 21st start of the 2010 season and has pushed him to the top of the American League win list.


And for Price to see such success as such an early age is tremendous, and makes watching this young talent mature more enjoyable with each and every start. The last pitcher Price’s age or younger to be leading the AL or NL in wins on this date was Detroit’s Justin Verlander, who had 14 wins in 2006. Another star pushed right up into Price’s ever expanding universe that just seems to get bigger and bigger every day. To illustrate another impending star that could find its way into Price’s galaxy, ESPN currently has Price as the top points getter in their Cy Young Predictor on ESPN.com. High praise for a guy who always seems to have a calm and cool demeanor on his game.

And Price has developed that demeanor after posting some impressive and focused numbers so far in 2010. Price has surrendered less than 3 earned runs in 20 of his 22 starts this season. Another tasty Price pitching morsels include more strikeouts than hits allowed in 8 of his last 9 starts. The last time he gave up more hits than strikeouts was his first start after the All Star game on July 18th when Price gave up 7 hits versus 3 strikeouts against the New York Yankees on the road. But the cherry on top might be his .159 average with runners in scoring position this season. When the Rays have needed someone to shut down the opposition, Price has answered the call with authority.

But during 2010, Rays fans have kind of gotten spoiled a bit by Price’s success. We sometimes forget just how young Price truly is as he matches pitch for pitch with some of the best in the game every 5 days. To illustrate just how impressive this budding star has been in just the first half of 2010,at the All Star break, Price was the youngest pitcher in either league to lead the league in wins and ERA since the Twins Scott Erickson in 1991. Price was the youngest pitcher to start an All Star game since New York Met and former D-Ray Dwight Gooden (23) in 1988 and the youngest in the AL since Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen (23) in 1987. To fully put this into proper prospective, Price received his first All Star game on the player’s ballots, and had a total of 290 players votes cast for him. To show the early dominance of Price, that was 76 votes more than his closest competitor (Boston’s Clay Buchholz).

 

To further put Price’s rise into prospective further, Price’s 100 strikeouts at the All Star break made him one of 6 pitchers all time under the age of 25 to reach at least a dozen wins, an ERA under 2.50 and post 100 K’s before the break. Price was also the first to do it in 25 years since Roger Clemens did it in 1986. This all might seem a bit perplexing to Rays fans right now, but we are seeing the foundation right now of a pitcher who could possibly set the standard in the next few years in the American League. With 50 games left in the regular 2010 season for the Rays, the consistency and the calm of Price’s demeanor could be key to if the Rays gather a chance to win their division, or garner a Wild Card berth for the Playoffs.


Some might have found it bold of this left-hander during the Rays 2008 Spring Training to point out he wanted to be at the Major League level by September. Some might have found his bravado and calmness a bit alarming until you talk with Price and see that the cool nature of his personality makes you want to see him succeed. Stars can still be seen shining bright in the sky even with the urban haze in Tampa Bay. It is even better to see one more special star shine every five days as the Rays try to again make history within a small part of Price’s ever expanding universe.

Rays Last 3 Arbitration Eligible Players…..Outfield and Pitching

 

 

 

The  huge celebrations has died down to the point that now we remember them only by using the glossy pictures and video to remind us of the time, place and who we were with when the Rays climbed the  postseason mountain in 2008. Little remains of the celebrations at the vacant Trop. But the stadium is full of activity as the crews are rapidly moving to transform the Dome into a viable football arena, The pitching mound is missing, base paths are gone, and the field is being fitted and lined for the St. Petersburg Bowl, which will debut this year in the stadium. It will be odd to sit there and watch a  college football game at the Trop., knowing that in less than 90 days after the game, baseball will be back at the Tropicana Field.

 

But not gone is the fact that the team was in line for  huge shares of the playoff booty from MLB, and they got the  fantastic news about their bounty on Tuesday. According to MLB, the Rays will distribute over $ 12,278238.61 in a 43-way pile to players and other Rays personnel. You have to hope that Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi got a nice chunk of change from the playoff pie and will not have to umpire as much this off season. The Rays split was about $ 223,390.05 per share, a nice chunk of change for a months worth of sweat and tears. To put that into consideration for players playing under a minimum MLB salary, they will receive almost half their yearly salary for a month of playoff baseball. 

 

        

 

It is totally amazing to me the amount of money flowing out of the baseball coffers after  the complaints being thrown throughout the newspapers and blogs during the  2008 playoffs.  MLB was huffing and puffing about the lack of viewership on Television and the weather situations surrounding the World Series, but in the end, even the first ones eliminated in the AL, the Chicago White Sox, who lost to the A L Champion Rays in the ALDS, got to take away  over $ 27,828.33  each in players’ shares. Not a bad gig if you can get it. That is more than I made in 2008 so far.

 

 

Okay, back to the  main issue here. Today I am going to highlight the last 3  Rays players’ who are eligible for  non-tendered arbitration for the Tampa Bay Rays. They are as  pretty diverse group. You have a devoted church-goer and all-around good guy, an aggressive extrovert  Aussie who moonlights in the World Baseball Classic, and a guy struggling to get respect for his talent, but is a better pitcher than advertised.

 


Each has a place on this team that was  exciting and unique. All three helped set the tone in positively different ways for the team in 2008. But I am again going to put myself into Andrew Friedman’s head and try and divulge and dissect the players into rationale pieces. Will these three guys be the foundation of another great Rays team, or do they need to be jettisoned to make the team better in 2009. By my evaluations I will decide if I would grant or deny any of these three an opportunity to upgrade their salary and continue playing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.

 

 And now, on with the show:

 

 

                            

 

Gabe Gross:

 

Gabe Gross had one of the best seasons of his major league career after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit personal highs in hits, home runs and RBI’s as well as getting 5 outfield assists for the team, second only to B J Upton’s 12 assists. But beyond that, Gross also became Mr “Big Time” for the Rays.  Not only could he be the defensive player they needed down the first baseline for the Rays, but his bat had magic in 2008.

 

Even on the night he was acquired by the Rays, the former Brewer scored his teams go-ahead run to win that game before heading to Orlando to meet up with his new team. Since he has gotten here, he has lit up the clubhouse with positive comments and actions, and totally won over the crowd in right-field with his play. But his bat is the thing that set him apart in 2008.

 

 He was one of the only guys on the roster who was money with guys in scoring position in 2008. And because of that, a lot of his RBI’s came in the later innings in games when he was put in as a defensive specialist for the Rays.  He had only one walk-off homer against the Chicago White Sox on June 1, 2008, but 4 times he teamed up with team mates for back-to-back homers.

 

 

 

That went a long way for the Rays establishing leads and putting the game out of reach. Gross also hit 7 solo homers and 6 2-run shots during 2008. To say he was clutch would be an understatement.  He played in only 78 games in 2008 since being acquired for a minor league pitcher, Billy Butler. But along the way he hit a tape measure 437 foot homer against the Cleveland Indians to tie that game on August 6th.

 

14 of his 38 RBI’s were either game-winning or game tying in 2008.  He has 3 walk-off  RBI’s, matching the Rays team record. One of those was a walk-off homers against  White Sox reliever Matt Thorton, which was his first career homer off a left-handed pitcher. 

 

 

 

 

Gross has been a model Rays from start to finish and the team would be truly rewarded if they granted arbitration to Gross for the 2009 season. With the flux of not having a designated right-fielder in house, Gross is also a huge advantage for the Rays in that they do not have to be desperate seeking a outfielder, and would be totally confident to give the position to Gross for 2009.  His 2009 salary could bump up to $ 1.3 million dollars, which is well within the range of a competent 4th outfielder who can hit and play defense with the best of them.

 

 

 

 

Edwin Jackson:

 

Anyone who knows me knows that this one will be personal. I am a huge fan of the guy ever since I first met him at a Spring Training game a few years ago and told him he will love it here. Funny how people can be attracted to certain types of ballplayers. Jackson is the type of player I enjoy watching pitch and learn the game of baseball.

 

He was a former sixth round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers as an outfielder, but was converted to a pitcher by the Dodgers’ staff. This is only his 4th season as a pitcher and I have seen improvement every year he has been in our system.  He is also one of those guys who is humble enough to chat and sign for fans as long as he can for the joy of it, not because it is his duty.

 

Now that Jackson has turned 25, we can finally cal, him a veteran on the rotation.  But did you know that he has now made 77 career starts as a pitcher, 63 of them for the Rays.  This season he tied the Rays record for wins with James Shields and Rolando Arroyo with his 14th win. His previous best was his 7 wins in 2007.  He also posted only his 2nd winning season as a professional. He was 2-1 in 2004.

 

 

 

 

He threw a total of 183.1 innings in 2008, which was over 22 innings more than any other time in his career.  He ended the month of August with a 2.27 ERA, the best on the staff and 4th best in the American League. He also tied a Rays record for 4 wins in August.  He had a 4- straight game win streak earlier in the season from July 25- August 10th.

 

He also won 6 out of 7 starts up to August 10th posting a 2.59 ERA during the streak.  He had a streak of 20 straight scoreless innings over the span of 3 starts from May 8-18th.  That set a record for a Rays starter, and was only 1 inning off the all-time Rays record of 21 set by Joe Borowski in 2005. 

 

Jackson is known for his high-powered fastball that can reach the top 90’s with a slight dip, but his curve and slider can sometimes just rumble through the strike zone and has been his problem pitches this season. Jackson was also involved and suspended for the Boston-Tampa Bay fiasco in Fenway Park because of his run towards the mound during the scuffle.  It was said he was punching and hitting  Coco Crisp at the bottom of the pile, but photos show he lost his shoe on the way to the mound and did not arrive until late in the event. He served a 5-game suspension from June 22-27th.

 

 

 

If I were Andrew Friedman, I would first sit down with Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey and see what the Rays have in store for Jackson in the near future. With the aspect of David Price coming into the rotation, the Rays must make some adjustments to either Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine in the starting rotation.

 

If the Rays think that Jackson would be valuable in either the rotation or the Bullpen, then they should offer him arbitration and get him settled for 2009. Also on the horizon is interest by several clubs in Jackson over the past 2 seasons. The New York Mets, Seattle Mariners have expressed interest in the developing right hander.

 

Remember, that this guy is still learning the art of pitching, and 2008 was his best season to date, with unlimited potential and growth in the next few seasons.   Jackson could look forward to a salary in the $ 2.5 Million dollar range after an arbitration hearing.

 

 

 

Grant Balfour:

 

I did not know what to expect in 2007 when the Rays sent my buddy Seth McClung to the Brewers’ for the Aussie reliever. He came into the Rays Bullpen and was average at best in 2007. He lacked a certain intensity and velocity to his pitching, but all that changed after Spring Training in 2008. Balfour was not selected to the Rays Bullpen losing out to Scott Dohmann for the last spot in the Bullpen.

 

Balfour did not stress it and went down to the Durham Bulls with a chip on his shoulder and fire in his belly. When he came back up to the Rays Bullpen, he made it very difficult for the team to even consider sending him back to the minor leagues. Down the stretch, Balfour and J P Howell were the core of a Bullpen unit that shut down some of the best hitter in the entire league.

 

Balfour down the stretch pitched in 17 of the team’s last 34 games.  In 15 of those outing he pitched scoreless frames for the Rays.  Overall in 2008, the Rays went 32-19 in ballgames he came into from the Bullpen.  He also tied for tops in wins in 2008 in the Bullpen with 6 wins, tied with J P Howell.  He leads all MLB relievers with a 12.66 strikeout per 9 innings ratio, pitching 58.1 innings and recording 82 strikeouts on the year.

 

 

 

Balfour also was tops in the majors by fanning 36 percent of the batters he faced, and  his 1.54 ERA was also the  4th best ERA posted by a reliever in the majors this season.  His .143 opponents batting average was best in the AL, and second in the MLB to the Cub’s Carlos Marmol.  He also allowed only 3 homers and 11 extra base hits all season long.

 

He also had a .230 slugging Percentage against him, second lowest in the majors. Balfour also provided support as the Rays closer during Troy Percivals’ many DL trips in 2008. During this time he preserved 3 out of the 4 save opportunities for the Rays.

 

 

 

Put all these statistics along with a on-mound intensity not seen in the past by the Rays and you have the total package for the Bullpen. It is a sure bet that to invest in Balfour would be a great investment for the Rays. So to offer him arbitration might be a moot point. If anyone deserved a raise in 2009, it would be the members of the Bullpen who kept the teams in games all year long. With an arbitration hearing, Balfour could increase his salary to about $ 1.2 million dollars. Every penny of it will come with emotion and energy, just what they Rays need in 2009 to defend their A L East crown.

 

Next Class of Arbitration for the Rays:

 

The next group to hit the arbitration ranks for the Rays will boost the payroll in a major way. Players like infielders Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar will have their first go at the process. Catcher Shawn Riggans will be eligible. And B J Upton will also be presented with his first arbitration decision as a professional.

 

In the pitching department, we have people like J P Howell and starter Matt Garza.  You can see several of the above players maybe being offered long term or even extension to combat the arbitration process. It was said that in 2006, the Rays wanted to make a long-term deal with B J Upton, but the deal was not formulated or completed in time.

 

I could see Matt Garza and maybe even Ben Zobrist getting an extension to cover a few of their arbitration years. and maybe even a year or two of their free agency like the deals given to James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Evan Longoria in the last several seasons.  So we have that to look forward to in 12 months time.

 

 

 

 

Rangers Beat Rays by a Touchdown

Rangers 12, Rays 6

 

I know the Rangers did not score a TD, please do not write me and tell me I mixed sports metaphors. I know what I did, it was to attract you to the blog only. I played football, I know the difference Yankee dude.

I want to tell you, watching the Rangers take BP today was a wild experience. I saw Josh Hamilton hit a ball so high and far it went BEHIND the towering video screen in rightfield. 

I have seen the NY Met’s old catcher, Mike Piazza put two straight shots into the Beach area. I have seen Barry Bonds hit the back wall, and Jorge Posada lodge a ball in the building’s seam, but that shot mesmerized me for a brief moment.  Damn what we would be with him in our lineup………sends chills down my spine.

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

Trivia Fact of the Night:

Of Babe Ruth’s 714 homers, 10 were inside-the-park shots. 16 were hit in extra innings, and 1 was as a pinch hitter.

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

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

Cliff Floyd has been hitting the ball better in the last few at-bats. Tonight he hit a clutch 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to begin the scoring for the Rays.

Cliff went 2-2 tonight with 2 RBI’s, and scored 3 runs. Floyd also had 2 walks tonight for the team. Floyd is currently hitting .281 for the Rays. Floyd has a .386 lifetime average at the Trop., the 4th best average lifetime at the stadium (min 75 at bats).

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

*** Dioner Navarro continues to carry a hot bat, going 2-4 tonight and upping his average to .374 for the year. Dioner is the best hitting switch hitter in the MLB this season. Dioner has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, with 8 multi-hit games.

** Evan Longoria went 1-3 tonight and upped his average to .243 for the year. Evan leads the club with 7 homers since his arrival, and is tied with Carl Crawford with 29 RBI’s. Longoria also is ranked 2nd behind Chicago White Sox’s Joe Crede for the AL best thrid baseman. He currently has a slugging percentage of .466 for the Rays.

* Eric Hinske went diving for a dying ball tonight in rightfield and just missed it by inches. This determination and drive is why he is my top star tonight. Eric also hit a 2-run homer to right in the 4th inning to close the gap to 7-4 at the moment. 

Hinske has now hit 10 homers on the year. Thi is the earliest in his career that he has hit that plateau. He currently leads the club with 20 extra base hits, and is 6th in the AL with a .529 Slugging Percentage.

              

          

 

                                             The Bad

Andy Sonnanstine has had two bad outings in a row now. His last start in Oakland was a 9-1 Rays loss on the last game of the road trip. Tonight, Andy lasted 5 innings, gave up 10 hits and 7 runs before shutting down the Rangers for 3 innings.

Rays manager Joe Maddon admitted in his post game interview that the righty was having a control situation and was not “hitting the glove” like he did in his past victories. Sonnanstine did get 7 strikeouts on the night. 

I know some fans are ready to throw Andy under the bus and take this loss in the wrong ways. This was one of those games that can define a team. You know you can not win every night, but the team did not give up and it played aggressive baseball up until the last out in the 9th inning. that is a character ball club. And one you can be proud of for it efforts.

                                      

Just remember, Andy Sonnanstine was pitching in Double-A only two years ago. And this season, he matched a record set by Rolando Arroyo and Scott Kazmir of reaching 6 victories by May 16th.  The guy has the talent, sometime you just have a bad game…..period.

     

                                           The Ugly

Tonight, Josh Hamilton’s Grand Slam was the most ugly thing I have seen this season at the Trop. I am not blaming J P Howell for the pitch.

It was right where the glove was placed, Hamilton did a great job turning on the pitch and sending it into the lower half of the Bigscreen Scoreboard in rightfield.

You heard me, he put it into the scoreboard.  It was a major blast for his team, and a ultimate signal to the Rays that they still had work to do that night.

                              

But what was even more ugly was the Rangers’ starter Vicent Padilla’s personal interpretation of the new “12 second rule.”

MLB insituted a 12 second rule for the pitchers to speed up the game. I asked a memeber of the Rays staff what constitutes a beginning of this timed period. He stated that it was, “when the pitcher touches the rubber with his foot.”

Not when you are in the set position to throw, but when you first rest your foot on the rubber. Padilla was using every second, and borrowing a half dozen on most of his pitches tonight.

Tim Welke, the homeplate umpire did not seem to warn or even go out and discuss this with the pitcher. He let the game drag on and on by the pitcher’s disregard for the rule, and the Rays players also used that to their advantage. If Padilla used up an abnormal bit of time, the Rays used their discretion and moved out of the batter’s box. Hence making the pitcher again setup for the pitch and  beginnig the process all over again. 

The Rays’ tried to use this as a distraction on Padilla’s rhythm and get him in an uncomfortable state. This only seemed to upset the crowd and the batters more than Padilla.

I hope there is a better example of this ruling somewhere online. I am going to look for it and see if I can make any sense of it for everyone.

 

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

Rays’ Players Rememberances of Geremi Gonzalez

 

                        

 A moment of silence was observed in memory of former Rays pitcher Geremi Gonzalez prior to Tuesday night’s Rays-Rangers game at Tropicana Field.

Rays players and staff paid tribute to Gonzalez, who died on Sunday at the age of 33 after being struck by lightning.

Crawford smiled when asked to describe Gonzalez.

“Yeah, he was fun,” Crawford said. “Loud, always excited, he just had a lot of energy. He was a character, man.” 

 

Rocco Baldelli called Gonzalez a “Fun-loving guy, and a lot of people here are going to miss him.”

Baldelli remembered how entertaining Gonzalez could be, particularly on a trip back from Japan after the Rays opened their season in Japan in 2004.

“We played cards on the way back from Japan the entire flight,” Baldelli said. “I mean this guy kept me awake for 18 hours or whatever. This guy would do some off-the-wall stuff that kept everybody loose all the time. He’s a guy who makes an impression. When you meet him, you remembered meeting Geremi Gonzalez.”

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 279 other followers