Results tagged ‘ Shelly Duncan ’

Bad Luck Follows the Rays on the Road

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I want to be the first to stand up and applaud new Tampa Bay Rays James Loney and Shelly Duncan for their vocal barrage from the Visitor’s dugout railing tonight as they snipped with merit at the horrific job Home Plate Umpire Marty Foster made on the last pitched ball during the Rays 5-4 loss against the Texas Rangers.

c2s_rays040913_10589862_8colBelieve me if the Rangers had any deputy powers, they should have arrested Foster for impersonating a Umpire, but I digress. Seriously though, if the Rays were to lose that game even with their hottest hitter , Ben Zobrist at the plate, it should have been a ground ball, missed swing, not a called third strike to end a highly contested game that came so far out of left field Rangers closer Joe Nathan might have been the last person on the field to notice the game was over.

You can be sure there will either be a voice mail or a nice cordial phone call to Foster from someone within the MLB hiearchy, possibly his immediate supervisor asking him if he drank a frothy beverage as the teams changed positions for the top of the 9th inning instead of guzzling a nice, cool Gatorade. And the worst thing is you can not fathom or find a suitable excuse like the usual hot and hostile Texas heat or gnats that descended from purgatory (Texas) to make the sight lines into the Texas catcher’s glove impossible.

This was purely and truthfully just a blown call that possibly seconds after it’s conclusion Foster wishes he could take back or get a proverbial “mulligan”. And these things happen during a 162 game season, but it didn’t need to happen to this Rays team who struggled back to within a run of changing the outcome and who were still nursing a TKO in their Sunday home matinee.

tampa-bay-rays-v-texas-20130408-201736-861But maybe this is the way the Rays will have to find ways to win in 2013. Possibly the high hype of their return to glory 5 years after their first surprising rise has more than a few people casting spells or making voodoo Longo dolls or Hellboy personas.  But the Rays did have chances before this moment and could of taken the fate of their resurgence out of Foster’s hands before the top of the 9th inning.

On the same day their might Tall Texan, Jeff Nieman decided to partake the knife and sideline himself for the rest of the 2013 campaign, this team needed some sign of impending good fortune and change of fortune. The problem was as in in most Texas sagas, the man in the black cap shot the Rays in the foot and took their victory off into the sunset.

Maybe we can find a way to blame the call on long-time Rays nemesis and current Rangers catcher AJ Pierzenski, he was the guy who framed that last pitch for Foster…….Nah, Foster blew the call.

Obi-Joe, Pick Wisely For Your DH Woes

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What is it about the Tampa Bay Rays Designated Hitter position? It is almost like this slot in the Rays roster has some sort of curse attached to it. Sure we have seen a few guys show their stuff and produce in this position, but over the last several years, especially since 2009, there has been no real sense of consistency, production or even a iota of promise that the name of that game’s DH presents any terror or worry for our opposition.

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays, Game 7With our own resident Yoda, Rays Senior Advisor Don Zimmer popping the ball to the dish during the Rays home opener, Rays Manager Joe Maddon might have to go into his alter ego Obi-Joe and use his internal force to find the right and most productive weapon either in his current roster or the farm system arsenal to seal and eliminate the dark forces, or was it the alkaline water, that took his Jedi Wolverine to the mat with an apparent calf injury.

Maddon and the Rays Front Office Council do not only have to make the right fit for this proposed 30-day window that Scott could be confined to the sidelines, but possibly bring in a new cog in the Rays offensive machine that might have to grind it out for the entire 180 day MLB season. 

0430827723_10548034_8colIt is a poor tragedy that the Rays have already shown a little wobble in their bobble even before the first game has been played of the 2013 MLB season. The Rays will need to make a bold statement, a show of trust within their ranks that they have an in-house solution to their woes instead of possibly shop around for a discount DH who might not make another MLB team’s roster.

Maddon has to keep the force instilled within his ranks that options are within their grasp and his choice will bring about a seamless transition to an already struggling offensive arsenal. That his choice will hammer out any thought of chinks in the Rays armor and provide the needed sense of protection for Evan Longoria in the Rays lineup over that time period. This has to be done swiftly and without hesitation as his window of opportunity is vanishing quickly as Rays famr hands embark on their journeys to their respective spots for 2013.

0430827606_10547939_8colThis is one of those moments where the Rays need to make not only a intelligent decision, but one that would merit an up-grade and possibly some more lineup flexibility for Rays Manager Joe Maddon to produce some sort of revolving swapping of players out for a rest while not downgrading his offensive ability to produce and bring must needed wins to a Rays team playing in a very competitive and upgraded American League East division. The first 30 days of the Rays season could definitely define where they will end up come October, and if all the predictions and projections about this season come to light, or go down like a burning Deathstar.

The Rays have many viable options including bringing up their Spring Training Al Lopez winning option of multi-positional and talented Triple-A tour du force Leslie Anderson, or maybe even the short term options of Stephen Vogt, Shelly Duncan or Brandon Guyer who might foreshadow an obvious decline in the Rays offensive firepower out of the DH position. Whoever ObiJoe  and the Rays Council decides is worthy must come into the Rays fold with confidence and know this is not only a time to show the team what they can do, but how they can adjust and flex to meet the team’s needs on a daily basis. 

201303281730630462854-p2Sure each of these name also can play multiple positions in the field at any time, but can the Rays survive any sort of nosedive in their offensive scheme even for 30 days and still be competitive in this tight division? Scott being out even for more than a few series bring about some serious problems and might warrant some gambling on the Rays part in terms of if and when Scott returns do they keep the player who they will feature at the Rays DH position on Opening Day as an insurance policy to possible future Scott frailties, or do they send them possibly to Triple-A with the idea of them working more out of a DH slot in the Durham Bulls lineup as a precursor option just a plane ride away.

I have faith that Obi-Joe already has the right combination in mind that will eliminate any doubts or  negative thoughts among those in the Rays Republic as to our 2013 seasonal future. All Maddon has to do is think long and hard who can give him the most flexibility along with predictable production and the answer should come to him in a nano-second.  Use your internal good force vibrations Obi-Joe and pick the one who will explode out of the gate and provide wins and grins from all of us. 

Yankees again use Duncan to Beat the Rays

 

 
Of course after yesterday Spring Opener where the Tampa Bay Rays only managed to get 4 hits in the entire game, I was looking for the Rays offense to maybe finally kick back into gear.  Little did I know before the game that Rays Manager Joe Maddon had decided to leave a few guys at home working out at the Rays complex down in Port Charlotte, Florida. Among those left at home was Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena. I do not know the reasoning for the two guys to be left off the travel squad, but with a big game today against the Boston Red Sox, I am expecting it was done to have them fresh and ready for Friday’s game.
 

So when the Rays did come north to play the New York Yankees today at George Steinbrenner Field, I was not sure what kind of infield might be taking the turf for this first test of the year against our division rival. The crowd had it usual over indulgence of  Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez jerseys, but the smattering of the Rays blue and white jerseys could be seen in the stands. This is a huge departure on some spring training game where the New York faithful will sell out the contest before they even go on sale to the general public.  So it was a great sight to see some of the away teams jerseys and hear the odd cowbell or two.

 

Before the game I saw a very interesting treat as ex-Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams came out to throw the ceremonial first pitch of the game. I can tell you he still looks like he could play in the outfield for the Yankees, and I bet he can still hit the cover off the ball. His pitch was a nice crisp little fastball to just past the right side of the plate. The man can still play, and I still wonder why he is not in a Yankee jersey this spring? By the way the first inning strted out for the pinstripes, he might as well pitched the first inning for them today.
 
The Rays decided to give a few of their recently signed veterans a chance to display their skills today. Rays minor league player Chris Richards got the start at first base instead of Willy Aybar today. But Aybar did play, taking the Designated Hitter spot today. Adam Kennedy a recent signee got a chance to take the field at second base and  hit in the lead off spot for the Rays today. Also making his Rays debut was Morgan Ensberg at third base for Evan Longoria. Ensberg  hit a single in the 6th inning today off Dasmasco Marte. Both players might not be on the Opening Day roster, but Maddon decided that for them to find a team , they need to show their stuff. Since the game was being broadcast on MLB.TV, it was a great way for other teams to be able to scout the two veterans without sending people to the park.
 

The Rays could have taken full advantage of some wild Yankee starting pitching in the first inning, but they could not capitalize and ended up letting Yankee starter Phil Hughes actually look pretty good in  his outing without  capitalizing on scoring chances during his wild moments in the first inning today. Hughes, who is trying to come back after a injury-filled 2008, did not help his cause to make the team as a starter or as a long reliever in the Bullpen. Hughes did not self implode, but he did hit 2 out of the first 3 Rays batters he faced today before finally calming down a bit and ended up throwing 2 perfect frames for the Yankees. Hughes threw around 33 pitches today, and after his first three batters actually looked more calm and collected on the mound.

 


 

The Rays countered today with another great starting pitching performance from Rays prospect Wade Davis. He actually man-handled the Yankees in the first inning sending them down 1-2-3, with the third out on a 94 mph fastball to new Yankee Mark Teixeira.  Davis then came out in the bottom of the second and again came out with fire to get Alex Rodriguez to a 1-2 count before getting him to strike out to start the inning.  Davis did not back down after that and then took Robinson Cano out with another 94 mph fastball to end up striking out 3 of the first 5 batters he faced today.

 

Then in the top of the third inning, Yankee left-hand reliever Phil Coke came in and threw two innings of ball and also blanked the Rays, but did give up the first hit of the afternoon to Ben Zobrist, who hit a single in the fourth inning. For his efforts, Coke ended up with the victory for the Yankees.
 

The Rays sent out reliever Chad Orvella to start the inning. Orvella missed most of 2008 with a shoulder injury and was trying to make an impression on the Rays coaching staff to try and cement a Bullpen position for 2009. His first pitch of the spring came back to bite him as Jorge Posada deposited the ball beyond the right field picnic deck for an early 1-0 Yankee lead. For his efforts, Orvella ended up taking the loss today after throwing only one inning. To his credit, he then buckled down after the homer and got the next three batters, which included Johnny Damon who was his only strikeout of the game. 
 

For the bottom of the fourth inning, the Rays sent out Winston Abreu, who is trying to make the major league roster. Abreu did not fair well as he gave up three hits and a run during his two innings of work today. The Yankees counter in the fifth inning with reliever Brian Bruney who pitched  a shutout fifth inning for the team. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Yankees tacked on a run when consecutive doubles were given up by Abreu to Xavier Nady and Posada.  With the Rays now down by two, they needed to find some offense in the top of the sixth inning.   Last years Yankee Bullpen lefty specialist Damasco Marte then came in and gave up another hit for a single to Morgan Ensberg, who was playing third today for Evan Longoria.  the Rays could not capitalize on this again today and the Yankees again dodged a bullet.
 

 

The Rays sent  reliever Julio DePaula to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and the young Rays pitcher shut down the Yankees in his only inning of the game. Then in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Yankees non-roster invitee J.B. Cox, ended up having the worst outing for the Yankees today. He ended up throwing only 1 inning today, but gave up 3 hits and the lone Rays run in the seventh inning. Cox gave up a single to Elliot Johnson, who then scored on a Jon Weber hit that eluded the glove of shortstop Eduardo Nunez to put the Rays with in one run at 2-1. Rays non-roster invitee Ray Sadler then got another single and the Rays looked to be starting a small rally.  But they fell short and settled for the 2-1 lead with two innings left to play in the game.

 


 

But when Rays minor League prospect Calvin Medlock took the mound, he ended up giving up three hits in his one inning of work, and also gave the Rays a slimmer chance at victory. Medlock gave up a three-run shot to Shelly Duncan to put the game out of reach 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning.  Duncan knocked in Angel Berroa and Doug Bernier, who had both singled in the inning.  The Rays then tried to mount a rally again in the top of the eighth inning, but Mark Melancon shut them down with one strikeout in the inning. the Rays sent minor league reliever Dale Thayer to the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning, and he also shut down the Yankees offense, which now had mostly minor league and non-roster invitees in the game. The Rays again tried to mount an attack, but were put down quickly by reliever Johnathan Albalardejo to end the game.
 

 

So the Rays ended up leaving Tampa with an 0-2 start to the 2009 Grapefruit League season.  What was so remarkable in this game is that only one walk was issued by either team in the contest. That lone walk was given up by Phil Hughes in the second inning to Chris Richards.  Even with the 0-2 start, the Rays have a few positives to take away from this loss. They can see that Wade Davis has been working on his third pitch, a change-up, and used it with great success today against one of the American League best off-speed hitting teams. Also of note is the fact that the Rays only struck out  5 times today, with not a single hitter whiffing twice for the team.

 

 

Rays catcher Shawn Riggans got the start again for the Rays and looked to have good command of the pitchers and called a good game behind the plate. This might be his year to fully show he can be a great play-calling back-up catcher in the major leagues.  10, 693 fans hit the stands today to witness the game against the Rays.  I am not getting worried about the lack of hitting or even scoring by the Rays in their first two games.  A few pretty odd moments happen in today’s game. Elliot Johnson scored the Rays first run of the spring, and was stared down a bit by Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli. You might remember in early 2008, it was Johnson who took out Cervelli with a shoulder high shove as the Yankee catcher was blocking the plate. Johnson ended up scoring on the play, but the action put Cervelli out for a few months and drew the anger of Yankees Manager Joe Giardi at the time. Also interesting is the re-emergence of Former Rays basher Shelly Duncan, who originally released by the team last season. Duncan came out today and did not taunt or even whisper towards the Rays bench. This might be a sign that Duncan has put the 2008 incident behind him and plans on making his statements on the field this season.

 


 

The team heads home tonight with a 1:05 pm start tomorrow against another American League East foes, the Boston Red Sox.  The visitor’s will send pitcher Michael Bowden to the mound. Bowden only threw 5 innings for the team on August 30, 2008 against the Chicago White Sox. It might be a guy that the Rays can get to early and score some runs. The Rays will  start right-hander Jeff Neimann as he tries to make his impression to get  that fifth spot in the rotation, or a spot in the Rays Bullpen this season. Neimann needs to make an impression for the Rays to want to keep him in 2009, since he is out of minor league options, and would not make it through waivers if the Rays tried to send him to the minor leagues.  Additional Rays pitchers scheduled to appear in tomorrow’s contest will be Jason Childers ( RH ), Jason Cromer ( RH ),  James Houser ( LH ), 2008 Rule-5 draftee Derek Rodriguez ( RH ) will see his first Rays action, and Brian Shouse ( LH ). 
 

 
To give some of the Rays fans notice for the Saturday game against the Phillies in Clearwater, the team has tenativly penciled in Rays prospect Mitch Talbot to get the start, with J P Howell ( LH ), Dewon Day ( RH ), Neal Frontz ( RH ), and Lance Cromier ( RH ) getting their second chances this spring to make lasting impressions on the coaching staff.
 
  

Photo credits for today’s blog go to: www.theStPetersburgTimes.com , and RRcollections. 

A Hodge Podge of Number 2 Ray’s Moments in 2008

 

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I was sitting at the computer this morning trying to pick out a second possible winning moment in 2008 for the Rays when it dawned on me that there are too many to even count. So I have decided to instead list all the important events, as per my opinion, that have made 2008 so great for Rays fans. I mean I truly sat there after deciding on number 3 yesterday, and decided that one was the easiest pick of the bunch.

 

If you get to go to the big show, it has to be a top 3 moment in your team’s flight that season.  There are a huge bunch of moments that helped define 2008 for the Rays. Be it a event in 2007 at shaped the look and feel of the franchise again, or the elimination of a curse in another stadium that served as a mental block to the team. 2008 was the Year of the Ray, and it is one I am glad I got a front row seat for all year long.

 

 


I decided to run this in chronological order from the first event in 2007, up until the final out in Game 5.5 of the 2008 World Series.


So let’s begin with the first order of business way back in November 2007, when the Rays held a rally in Straub Park near the waterfront in St. Petersburg, Florida. The event was the unveiling of the teams new logo and colors. The Uniforms were fashioned to represent the old style of baseball with a new Rays logo on both the home and away jerseys. The “R” on the uniform front posed a new sweeping motion for the bottom of the letter, plus the sunburst between the lettering also brought about a new look and feel to the organization.

 

 

The ray of light was a new focal point of the team, which abandoned the former Ray on the cap and also on the team’s official logo. But the Rays did get to stay for 2008 on the sleeve of the jersey, but might be retired in 2009. The event was to showcase the new look and feel of the team. And with it came a new spirit of winning and posting new attitudes for the team. And one of baseball’s biggest supporters came out and celebrated with us. Kevin Costner and his band, Modern West came out and entertained the masses after the unveiling and rocked the house all the way up to the fireworks display.

 


Then came the last Spring Training reporting for the pitchers’ and catchers’ to the Ray Namoli Complex in Northwest St Petersburg. The team came out onto the field and Rays Manager Joe Maddon had a small speech in which he wanted to stress fundamentals and team work and chemistry in 2008. That was the day he unveiled his famous “9 =8 ” formula for the world to decipher for the rest of the season.

 

 


Then came the first event that molded and formed this band of players into friends and bonded them for the rest of the year. In the day prior to this event, the Rays Elliott Johnson had made a hard charge into Yankees’ minor league catcher, Francisco Cervelli a few days earlier. The event did not sit well with the Yankees’ staff and during the March 12th rematch at Progress Energy Field, Yankees enforcer Shelly Duncan decided to take matters into his own hands.



Duncan was hustling on a hit into the outfield when he turned and made a move towards second base. It was apparent to almost everyone but Duncan that he would not be able to make it to the base in time to beat the throw. During his slide, Duncan brought his cleats up towards Akinora Iwamura and struck him mid-thigh with his metal cleats.  Duncan came up immediately and contested the action before right fielder Jonny Gomes came into the action and leveled Duncan to the ground. It was an event that brought the team together for the first time in 2008.

 

 


Then two weeks later, the Rays said farewell to their present Spring Training home when the team played it’s last game at Progress Energy Field ( Al Lang Field, Waterfront Park). The game was met with sadness and joy because of the memories of teams playing on these grounds since the 1940’s in this present stadium. The event also was a visual point for the team to showcase the new proposed stadium that might some day rise on the same grounds.

 

Eric Hinske hits a one-out double during the Rays' two-run second inning. He tripled in the fourth and homered in the sixth.

 


Or could moments like Eric Hinske missing a cycle by a single. It is amazing to me that he went 3-4 on the night and got his triple and homer early in the contest at the Walt Disney complex, but could not get that elusive single.  Hinske ended up being one of the true bright spots for the Rays in the Free Agent market. He signed for a low number, but produced high energy and some pretty impressive offensive displays during the 2008 season.

 


Then we have the first sweep of the Boston Red Sox at home this season. That would only be the icing on the cake as the Rays would send the Red Sox faithful home as losers in 8 of the 9 games at the Trop this year. The  first series at the Trop. would end with a hard fought 3-0 shutout by James Shields.

 

Then comes the moment where Rays Manager Joe Maddon thinks the Rays season began to turn into its championship run. It was during a road trip up to Toronto when the Rays battled back from a possible loss. Edwin Jackson left the 8th inning with a Ray lead before Troy Percival gave up 4 straight singles to let the Jays tie the game at 3-all. The teams battled back and forth before Dioner Navarro, who went 3-6 on the day hit a screamer into the stands for a Grand Slam homer and sealed the victory for the Rays.

 

 


On May 13th the Rays got to celebrate for the first time in club history as the team officially took over first place in the American League East. It was the latest point in any Rays season that the team had enjoyed the top spot.  The game produced one of the first moments in the Rays 2008 history for celebrations when  pinch runner Jonny Gomes came on for Cliff Floyd after he singled in the bottom of the 11th inning. Gomes stole second, then sprinted  home to seal the victory for the Rays 2-1.

 

 


Then came the L A Angels first visit to Tropicana Field, and the Rays shut them down to also sweep that series. Then came in the mighty Chicago Cubs for a three game Inter-League series that was deemed by many to be a possible World Series matchup. During this series, the Rays finally began to get some national exposure for maybe being a true team that could win it all in 2008.


But not until after the June 19th game, in which Carl Crawford hit a grand slam to propel the Rays. The team had officially beat the best team in baseball all three games did the national media begin to get on the Rays bandwagon. Cub’s Manager Lou Pinella commended the Rays on their young squad, and you could see a small twinkle in his eye that he approved of the young team getting the best of his team that series.


 

 


On June 27th, Rays starter Matt Garza was on the mound in a game against the Florida Marlins and gave up a blast to Hanley Ramirez in the 7th inning to produce the only hit and run in the contest. Garza went on to shut down the Marlins’ offense the rest of the game.

 


According to the Elias Baseball Bureau, It was the first complete-game no-hitter or one-hitter with a double-digit strikeout total in the majors this season. There was only one such pitching performance in each of the last three seasons: by Chris Carpenter in 2005, John Lackey in 2006 and Justin Verlander in 2007.

 


On July 19th, the Rays won their first game back after the All Star break to break the team’s longest losing streak of the season. With the Blue Jays in town for a weekend series, the Rays went on to break up a perfectly good pitchers’ duel on a Ben Zobrist homer on the first pitch he saw tonight. Toronto starter A J Burnett was on tonight, but the Rays caught a huge break on a hanging breaking pitch to Zobrist for the victory.

 

Rocco Baldelli gets the shaving cream pie treatment after driving in the winning run in the ninth.  (AP)

 


While the Rays were at home on August 30th they got to celebrate a first in Rays history. With the 14-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays posted their 82nd win of the season. Marking the first time in franchise history they were guaranteed a winning season.  It also marked the night of Scott Kazmir’s 10th victory of the year.

 

The mystic of Fenway Park was beginning to get the better of the Rays in 2008 before Scott Kazmir took the mound on September 10th in a series the team needed to keep their lead on the Boston Red Sox.  It also began one of the most storied moments in Rays history. During the contest the Rays batters went a combined 1-15 with men in scoring position and almost gave the game to the Red Sox several times. As the team fought back and forth before the Rays sent up a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning.  

 

 

Dan Johnson had been summed from the Durham Bulls earlier in the day and would have started in left field if he had gotten to the ball park a little earlier in the night. But because of flight problems and transportation to Fenway Park, he arrived just moments before the game. In the 9th inning, Rays Manager Joe Maddon inserted Johnson into the game to pinch hit against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Johnson worked the count to 3-2 before he hit a monster shot that cleared the right center field wall to give the Rays a 5-4 lead in the game. Jason Hammel ended up coming out in the bottom of the 9th and secured the win for the Rays. It was Hammel’s first save of his career.

 

 


With the team away for their last series, it was actually the next day when most Rays fans learned that we had secured the American League East title the previous night in Detroit. With the Rays in Motown for the last series, many players came back to the clubhouse to celebrate into the wee hours of the morning. It was a wild fact, but players and staff went to area hotels sports bars to do a bit of  scoreboard watching as the New York Yankees needed to lose for the Rays to be awarded their first title in team history.

 

 


After the hard fought season, the Rays staged a airport greeting for the team at St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport on September 29th. The event was attended by almost 5,000 people who flocked into the baggage area and loading zones to greet and cheer the team as they got off their chartered flight from Detroit. People filled the airport and also the outer traffic lanes of the airport to see their new champions come in from their road trip.


 

 


On October 6th, the Rays were in Chicago facing the White Sox when they secured their first series win in the American League Divisional series. The Rays won the series 3-1, and established that they were the team to beat to get to the World Series in the American League. In that series, the Rays battled back time and time again against the tough White Sox pitching staff before finally breaking through and getting right breaks.

 

 

When the Rays faced the Philadelphia Phillies on October 23rd, they sent James “Big Game” Shields to the mound. The game  showed the waking up of B J Upton and Carlos Pena at the plate as both help produce much needed offense for the Rays. In a play featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Rocco Baldelli came across the plate for an apparent Rays run, but Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz held onto the ball.

 

 


The game came down to great situational hitting by the Rays. B J Upton scored Akinora Iwamura from third to plate the first run for the Rays.  In the 4th inning, the Rays took a hold of the game after Cliff Floyd hit a single and Dioner Navarro hit a nice liner up the middle to put two men on base for the Rays. Baldelli then hit a nice shot down the third baseline, but it was gloved by Feliz and the Rays had men on the corners. Jason Bartlett then came up and executed a safety squeeze perfectly  in front of Phillies starter Brett Myers to put the Rays up 4-0. It would be the Rays first victory in the Fall classic.


 

 


Last, but not least is the Game 5.5 as I call it of the 2008 World Series. No matter what happened in this game, the historical significance was more pressing at the moment. The contest was a hard fought contest and each team traded runs and hits before the Phillies finally walked away with their second World Series Championship.

 


The game was a true test of everything that got the Rays here in 2008. The Bullpen, which was the team’s focal point in 2008 had finally given up a run at the most critical moment in the contest. And the Rays offense could not close the gap when needed during their last at bats. with Eric Hinske striking out for the last out of the game.

 

 


All of these events made a different focal point for the Rays in 2008. I hope a few of your fond memories have graced the blog. If I forgot a moment that you found remarkable in 2008, please feel free to comment on the blog and I will check into it and might even make it my number 1 choice tomorrow.  Again thank you to all the readers of Rays Renegade for their insights, comments ans readership in 2008.

 

Hopefully in 2009, I will have more outstanding Rays moments to record for you.

Perfect Sunday for baseball under the Dome

Orioles 2, Rays 6

 

 

You know, earlier in the year going .500 so early in the season would be a upsetting situation. But with nine (9) current Rays players on the disablied list, and a few hurting but gutting their way through the games, it is totally satisfying at this moment. If we can go .500 without the big guns, what could happen when the firepower is back to normal and the trigger is set……………..think about that for a moment here.

 

 

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Trivia fact for the day

 

Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in the same game. He did it for the Atlanta Braves on July 3,1966.

 

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                                        The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly

                             

B J Upton is starting to come into his own at the plate.  Today he hit a monumental 3-run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning. Upton also raised his average to .302 today, its highest point in over a week. B J’s home run came in the 5th inning where the Rays ignited and scored all of their 6 runs of the game.

 

Honorable mentions for “Good” today:

 

                                                

 

*   Jeff Neimann tossed  93 pitches today, in which the Orioles only scored  a lone run and scattered 6 hits against him. This help Neimann collect his first MLB win.  At 6’9″, Neimann  got the ball down consistantly during the game, and never got himself into a bad jam. The lone run he gave up was to Baltimores’ Nick Markakis, who homered to left field in the top of the 6th inning.

 

** Rays outfielder Carl Crawford collected two RBI’s today also in the 5th when he singled to centerfield and Justin Ruggiano and Mike DeFelice scored to make it 3-0 before BJ Uptons at bat. BJ also currently has 11 RBI’s for the year and is in the top 10 in the American League in that category.

 

*** Third baseman Evan Longoria(E-Love) also collected another hit today and walked and eventually scored a run in the Rays big 5th innning today.

 

                                             The Bad

 

I know I have written about this before, and I was chatting with a Rays broadcast guy and I have come upon the conclusion that BJ Upton has a “green light” when he is on the bases. For those not knowing the phrase, a player having a “green light” can make decisions for himself about baserunning and advancing on plays after a ball is hit.  That is becoming more and more apparent with each of his baserunning blunders.

 

Today it was a stagger step that cost him an extra base.  He was not caught stealing today, so I will be kind to him.

 

Another “Bad” that is starting to rear its ugly head is the fact that Dan Wheeler is in a weird funk. I saw a ball kinda float today and it did not get hit a ton, but it was a great contact out, and could have been trouble for us.  I am not saying there is a mechanics situation here, I am not a pitching coach. But, with that said, I know it was a ball that could have been crushed if the player got good wood on it. Last night a change-up that stayed in the zone was crushed for the winning run.

 

 

                                              The Ugly

 

Not alot of Ugly here except in the starting shortstops batting average, and his wild throws at times. Jason Bartlett should count his stars that he has a world class first baseman like Carlos Pena. He had dug out a few balls that past first baseman would have watched  the ball skirt to the wall or beyond.

 

That combined with his .158 average at this moment is cause for early worry. This is the guy we were counting on for solid play and a good bat in the field.

 

Ben Zobrist is still out for a period of time after they inserted a pin in his broken finger to help it heal better and faster. Until that time, we are limited to Bartlett and Johnson at short, with neither player showing offensive numbers at this time.

 

 

Former Rays player of the Day.

 

I know it is early in the afternoon, but I am going to pick my former Rays player of the game for today.

It has to be Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. All of us Rays fans remember Josh as the hier apparent to Rightfield before Delmon Young entered the picture.  Josh has been hitting good this year and he is showing the talent we all knew he had in prior Spring Training and minor league games.

During this afternoons’ game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Hamilton has two RBI’s and hit a homer run to right in the bottom of the 4th inning. He also singled and drove in Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the first.

Hamilton is currently tied with the Rays Carlos Pena for first with 13 RBIs    

 

 

The forecast for tomorrow game is:

Ugly with a change for a smashing good time.  With that said, come on out to the Trop. and watch your .500 Rays take on the “Evil Empire” from the Bronx in a 7:10 PM Monday night game. 

 

 

 

You know the Cowbell kid will be there to send kisses and wishes to his pal Joe Giardi and Shelly Duncan.

 

Post Script:

 

I want to thank Edwin Jackson, JP Howell, Scott Dohmann and Andy Sonnastine for taking the all that time today to sign for the 12 Little Leagues and their  players that were at the ballgame.

 

Each of these Rays players stayed out there a long time and signed everything put in front of them. I even got a few autographs I was missing for my Rays collection. I even saw Evan Longoria out there after stretching on the wall signing and jawing with the Rays hopefuls.

 

So, as a Season Ticket holder and a great Rays follower, Thank you gentleman for showing class and community love by taking your time to show the kids of all ages in Tampa Bay you are there for them……….

Yankees Used to be the Class of the League, Now They are Just A**

 

Trivia Question: Who has the current record for most World Series rings?

 

Answer at the end of the Blog

 

 

I driving along today and listening to the Rays/Yanks game on the Rays’ Radio Network, when our rookie third baseman Evan Longoria was up to bat in the first inning.  Here we are, two days removed from the “whiny” accusations of Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, and Longoria is plucked by the pitcher in the midsection.


The Yankees’ had minor league pitcher, Heath Phillips, starting the game due to Andy Pettitte’s apparent tendonitis situation. That might be the reason for farmhand  Phillips to get the nod for the game versus the Rays, or there could be another reason Pettitte was not pitching today? 



Andy is a class act player, and maybe he wanted nothing to do with the  kid games about to be played on the field. Pettitte is a hard nosed pitcher who is not afraid to pitch the inside corner, but doesn’t have a history of  brush-backs or knock downs of  any MLB players. The reason I bring this up is that the Yankee starter, Phillips was ejected in the first Inning for a up-and-in fastball that hit Longoria. Kind of funny that he picked that player to pitch closely inside, and not the likes of  Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd or  Jonny Gomes.



Home plate Umpire Chad Fairchild immediately sent Phillips to the showers while being given an earful by Yankee manager Joe Girardi concerning the ejection.


But that would not be the end of the fun today.


Not even an inning later,with the Yankees up to bat in the bottom of the second, Shelly Duncan was running out a ball hit down the Left field line when he came in with his spikes up on Aki Iwamura. Replays showed that the relay throw beat Duncan to the base by about 30 feet, and he would not have had any chance to beat the throw to the bag without Aki dropping the ball.



With that in mind, Duncan decided to do his “Ty Cobb” imitation and come in with the spikes up around the knee/groin area and opened a small gash over Aki ‘s right knee.

 

 


Immediately following the play, Rays Right Fielder, Jonny Gomes raced in and leveled Duncan from behind  to set off  a bench clearing brawl.  Gomes said he wasn’t surprised Duncan did what he did considering his comments to the New York media this week that he would consider retaliation for Saturday’s play, and he didn’t hesitate to get involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“That was sort of second nature,” he said. “I was taught from T-ball all the way up to have your teammate’s back. With that guy trying to hurt a teammate, I just acted how I acted.”


Gomes did get an initial shot in on Duncan, but said an all-out brawl wasn’t his goal. Because of his actions, Gomes, Duncan and Yankees Third Base coach, Bobby Meacham and Yankees Hitting Coach, Kevin Long were ejected from the contest won by the Rays’ 7-6. My question is, where was the secret instigator, Joe Girardi during all of this mayhem. Probably giggling on the bench like a schoolgirl.

 

 


Rays closer,Troy Percival was in the clubhouse for the play, but he saw the spike marks visible on Iwamura’s uniform pants, above his knee on the inside of the leg, and wasn’t happy. “You’re just going out there, spikes high, trying to put them into somebody?” said Percival. “There’s no room in baseball for that kind of stuff. Ty Cobb’s been gone a long time.”


Is this the predestined action for the fun during the upcoming season for these two aggressive teams. Are the Yankees going to try and play hard, intimidation ball with a team that can dish out the same in return every night of the week.

 


In 2000,the Boston Red Sox came in to the Trop. in the send of the year, and tried to do the same to the Rays’ in their home stadium. Red Soz pitcher Pedro Martinez hit Gerald Williams and a brawl ensued. I remember seeing Red Sox first baseman/ Strike Scab, Brian Daubach getting leveled by a bullpen guy and being helped off the field. Of course, in that game several pitches were thrown that got pitchers tossed from the game. The best was the pitch by the late Cory Lidle that missed the back of a Sox’s player by two feet.

 

Does the actions of Jonny Gomes show that this team means business this year. Could we really be seeing the evolution of this franchise into respectability. I think the answer to both those questions is a loud and proud “Yes.”

 

Does today’s clear retaliation mean we have the Yankees worried for a change. Do they have a feeling that their “Empire”or “Dynasty” status is being challenged by an upstart team from the south. The last part of that word is what they have become in my eyes, just plain “nasty”‘


This is going to be a fun year to be a Rays and Yankee fan.

 

“It’s not typical of them, that’s for sure,” said Percival. “They’ve always been a professional organization. They’ve always played hard and they’ve always played smart. I won’t say that about today’s game.”


I am all about hard hustle and playing to win every game,at-bat,or pitch. But what Duncan did was beyond the usual action of the game. Should he be suspended by MLB?, that is not for me to say here.


But I would be leery of him standing in Right Field for Batting Practice at the Trop. I will be ready to lay a few lines on him about his cheap sportsmanship.

 

I will clap for any teams,even a Yankee, who shows hustle and a great play or show of true sportsmanship. But I hate and loath a guy trying to inflict,or injury a player out of retaliation for a hard-nosed play from a past game. Shelly Duncan had no business doing a “spikes up” play on Aki and it shows his lack of class to even wear that Yankee uniform. 


Gomes,Percival and others also feel unanimously that the play was “Bush League,” and had no business  being attempted today.  Dirty play,” said B.J. Upton. “Just a flat-out dirty play. Period.”

 

Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon summed it up best today:

“The other day we were playing in Tampa, that play you saw at home plate was a good, hard baseball play,” he said. “What you saw today is the definition of a dirty play. There is no room for that in our game, it’s contemptible, it’s wrong, it’s borderline criminal, and I cannot believe they did that.”

 

Triva Question Answer:

 

Yankees’ all-around good guy, Yogi Berra won 10 rings from 1946-1962.

Hey Shelly Duncan, Yogi Berra was a true winner, not a  half *** whiner.

 

 

 

 

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