Results tagged ‘ Trever Miller ’

Rays Pena Blasts the Rays to series win against the Indians

 

 

Rays 10, Indians 7

 

The Rays this morning completed a waiver trade for Orioles reliever Chad Bradford. The trade will consist of a “player to be named later,” and Bradford will be in uniform Friday night for the Rays as they visit the Seattle Mariners.

 

A corresponding roster move will be made prior to gametime, which is 10:10 PM EST, and might include such names as Al Reyes, Trever Miller, or maybe optioning Ben Zobrist back to Durham until Sept 1st.

 

Everyone knows Bradford as the sidewinder who seems to rub his knuckles on the mound in his unsual pitching sidearm motion.  Bradford had been effective this season, going 3-3, with a 2.45 ERA.

 

 Bradford has a 0.00 ERA in 17 playoff games spanning 15.1 innings. The move is viewed as a Bullpen upgrade to bring more experience and a different look to the Rays staff. 

 

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Weds. afternoon, Rays starter Scott Kazmir looked rough and not in the mental state to be effective in the game. On one occasion, Kazmir did not cover home on a play coming in from the outfield, and looked confused and into his head throughout the contest.

 

Rays Manager Joe Maddon noticed this problem with Kazmir and gave him a few innings to gather himself before removing the ace after 4.1 innings. Kazmir did not have his usual control, and issued 4 walks and only got 3 strikeouts in the game.

 

 In 4.1 innings, Kazmir threw 97 pitches. To make matter worse, the Indians’ Jhonny Peralta was putting on a hitting clinic at Kazmir’s expense. Peralta went 3-3, with a single, double and homer against Kazmir today. For the contest, Peralta ended up going 5-5, with 2 RBI’s.

 

 

In the 1st inning, Ben Zobrist, batting second for the Rays hit a 3-1 count ball to center for a single to give the Rays a runner on base early in the ball game.  Zobrist then stole second, and Carlos Pena ended up walking on  7 pitches. Pena was then caught stealing second, and Zobrist moved to third on a runners fielders’ choice.

 

With Zobrist 90 feet from scoring the first run, Evan Longoria hit a single up the middle to let Zobrist plate the first run for the Rays. With Longoria at first, Dioner Navarro came up and hit an opposite field 2-run homer to put the Rays up 3-1 on the Indians. It was Navarro’s second home run in two days.

 

Jason Bartlett played today as the DH, three days after injuring his finger in the finale against the Tigers. Bartlett, who began to take batting practice on Tuesday, look great at the plate going 3-4, and scored a run on Eric Hinske’s double in the bottom of the 9th inning.

 

I understand that Rays Manager Joe Maddon wants tp put the best lineup out there to win every night. And against the Indians this season that is a tall task. But, to suject your injured starting shortstop to re-injuring an already healing ailment might have pushed the envelope a bit.

 

 I understand nothing happened to hamper Bartlett from maybe returning to short during the Mariners’ series, but was the gamble really worth maybe losing Bartlett for more time on the DL. Since the gamble rolled perfect, it might just be a moot question now.

 

     

In his post game interview with Rich Herrera, Carlos Pena remarked about Gabe Gross and his ability to be the “guy at the right place” this season for the team. Again today, Gross was an instrumental part of the Rays comeback in the 9th inning. Gross, who went 1-4 on the day, saved his best for last.

 

In the bottom of the 9th, Bartlett got on by doubling to deep left center and Eric Hinske hit a blast to the corner in righfield that put the Rays down 7-5. Gross came up and hit the 6th pitch to the back wall of the Trop in right to tie the score at 7-7.

 

                  

 

After Gabe Gross’s homer, Cleveland Manager Eric Wedge put in reliever Masa Kobayashi to face Akinora Iwamura. Iwamura hit a controversial infield single and was out by inches, but was called safe by first base umpire Ed Rapuano. Wedge came out to argue the call, but Aki was awarded first and put the winning run on base for the Rays.

 

What is so special about this play, it would have been the 3rd out of the inning and neither B J Upton or Pena would not have batted in this inning if the play had stood as an out.

 

 

 

  

What came next in the next few plate appearances, might go down as the most pivitoal point in the Rays’ offense this season. With Akinora at first base after the missed call, Ben Zobrist came up and walked on 4 pitches. This set the stage for Carlos Pena, who has hit some monster fly out in the past few games to see if he could end the game with a bang.

 

Pena stood in th box and  hit the first pitch he saw for a 3-run homer off the lower wall below the Batter’s Eye in centerfield.  The play ended the emotional game for the Rays, and as  Rays’ Radio guy, Andy Freed commented, “set off a team meeting at home plate”. 

 

The Rays mobbed Pena at home and took the home series form the Indians 2-1. This is a remarkable chain of events considering on Monday, the Tribe had beaten the Rays for the 5th game in a row.

 

 

Peralta started the 9th inning with his 5th hit of the night, a single to center.  Shin-Soo Choo then tried to sacrifice bunt Peralta over, but Trever Miller threw him out at second base.  Miller was then replaced by Troy Percival. Choo then stole second and got in scoring position for the Indians.

 

Andy Marte hit a grounder to short that moved Choo to third. Choo scored on a Troy Percival wild pitch and put the Indians up at that point 7-4.  Percival then went on to finish his scoreless 2/3rds of an inning and was awarded his second win of the season.

 

The afternoon matinee was the second Parks and Recreation Day for the Rays this season. The kids were treated to Rays bangsticks and a Rays mouse pad as door prizes.

 

I understand the bang sticks to be used to terrorize their seatmates, but the mouse pads had me scratching my head. How many of these under 12 year old kids had computers to even put the pad under, or would they just lose them before even getting them home to Mom and Dad.

 

The answer soon came to me after the game as I saw about 300 mouse pads circulating under the trash and empty Dipping Dots containers. Maybe this was not the right crowd to give the mouse pads to, or at leadt maybe give them to the people watching the kids for after the game.

 

I know I will have a Rays mouse pad for about the next 15 years, as I scooped a few for friends and to distribute to people I know that have computers, and love the Rays.

 

 

The Rays now head off on a 10 games in 11 days roadtrip that will take them through Seattle, Oakland and Texas before coming home for 3 against the  L A Angels. This is the first in a stretch of long roadtrips for the team that will spell out their chances for the post season.

 

There is nothing more fulfilling to a team out of the race than to knock off someone who is above you and has a chance to make the playoffs. Each of the next tree opponents would like nothing better than to help the Rays struggle in the last two months of the season.

 

In these three series, the Rays will only have 2 games telecasted against the Oakland A’s.  The Tuesday game against the Oakland A’s will be broadcast only  on MLB.TV.

 

Most of the West Coast games are set to start at 10:05-10:10 PM EST, with the Sunday finale in Seattle coming on at 4:05 PM. One game in the Oakland series will be an afternoon game to start at 3:35 PM.

 

The Sunday Finale in Texas will be broadcast at 8:05 PM to combat the Texas heat during the day.

 

 

Rays Win Wild Shootout Against the Tigers

 

 Rays 6, Tigers 5

 

This game had everything a fans would want. Extra innings, which is like “free” baseball. Drama and possible defining moments for this team. A closer episode that was close to implosion, and a setup guy who gave up only his first homer of the year in his appearance.

To say you went home from the game on Sunday thinking you got ripped off or missing any form of excitement would be criminal. The Rays battled back again and again in this hard fought contest and never seemed to raise the white flag to the Tigers. It was defining moment for this club that showed not only heart, but will in wanting the win.

It was a instant classic Rays moment that also had some sadness to it. We might have lost our starting shortstop for a few games, and saw a fan favorite get hit with a 96 MPH fastball square in the area of the heart. It was a pitch that made everyone in attendance gasp and also hold their breath for a few seconds. Oh, and we also had over 30,000 fans on a Sunday, which is a first in this team’s history.

 

                                       

 

It might not have been a picture perfect day outside for the fans to do other things, but hopefully the action and the determination on the field will want them to come back again, and again this year.  And we had the first official “Grizzly Rocco” sighting on the Rays bench during the game.

 

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Sometimes I have a great seat to hear if the outfeilders or infeilders call a ball in the air during the game. But in the 2nd inning, Akinora Iwamura and Eric Hinske were silent when Matt Joyces hit dropped to the turf in between them for a single in rightfield.

Neither player voiced any loud attempt to get the fly ball, and both seemed to pull up just inches from the scene of the crime.  I am not going to thrown either of them under the bus here, just from now on guys, sing it loud and proud you want that horsehide.

 

                                

 

Rays starter, James Shields had a pretty good outing today, but the Tiger’s offense picked their spots on him today and spotted up a 1-0 score after 3 innings. In the next 3 innings Sheilds only gave up 3 hits and another lone run to let the Tigers gain a 2-0 lead on the Rays.

Shields did enough to earn his win today by pitching 6.1 innings of 2-run ball, but the Tigers were stiff on the defensive side and Sheilds left with the Tigers still up 2-0 on the Rays.

 

                                   

 

The Rays were down 2-1, when the Tigers’ replaced starter Armando Galarraga in the 8th inning with newly acquired reliever Kyle Farnsworth.  Eric Hinske hit the a fastball on the third pitch he saw from Farnsworth  to right for his 18th homer of the season.

Hinske hit his 101st homer of his career, and the Rays are now 15-4 when he homers in a game. It started a Rays 8th innig that saw two great shots over the wall.

 

 

           

 

 

B J Upton, who had not hit a homer in his last 25 games. B J  hit a high 2-run shot to center that cleared the wall by less than a foot. It helped put the Rays up 4-3 in the 8th inning. Going into today’s contest, the Rays have gone 58-0 when leading after 8 innings.  Upton also got his 25th double of the season to go along with his 8th homer of the year for the Rays.  On the day, Upton got 2 RBI’s to put him at 49 for the season.

 

 

                                  

 

In the top of the 8th, Grant Balfour came out and gave up on his only homer run of the season to Gary Sheffield to put the Tigers up 3-1.  Balfour had given up only 4 extra base hits prior to Sheffields homer, all doubles.

 Balfour had been the best reliever  coming into the game with a .103 opponents average against him. He also  has a 13.5 strikeouts per 9 innings mark, tied for best in the majors this season. He has shutout the opponents in 21 of 25 appearances this season. and earned the win last night in the game for the Rays to improve to 3-1 on the year.

 

 

When Rays closer comes on in the 9th inning, you can usually close the book on the game. Today, Troy was not sharp in the 9th inning and gave up a solo shot to Curtis Granderson to tie the game on the first pitch. Percival  then took 10 pitches to get out of the inning.

Troy Percival has not pitched 2 straight innings for the Rays this season.  Percival went back out in the 10th inning and  gave up another homer to Miguel Caberra to put the Tigers’ up 5-4 on the Rays.

 Trever Miller then came in and finished the inning for the Rays.

 

                                     

 

If you left this game after the 9th inning, you missed one of the most exciting Rays’ rallys in our history. With the team down 5-4,  Tigers reliever Frenando Rodney came in to pitch the 10th inning.

Rodney walked the first batter Willy Aybar after a 9 pitch at bat. Jason Bartlett came up next and the real ecitement started for the Rays. Bartlett tried to put down a bunt on the first pitch from Rodney, but caught his index finger on the bat and split it open.

 Bartlett was taken from the game and back-up catcher Shawn riggans was inserted to finish the at-bat. Riggans  came up with one strike on him after Bartlett’s failed bunt attempt.

 

 

 

 

On the first pitch from Rodney, going about 96 mph, Riggans was hit squarely in the chest near the heart ans went down immediately to the ground.

The Rays medical staff rushed out to the field and in a few minutes Shawn was standing on first base, but had  a difficult time breathing normally.  the pitch had hit with enough force to knock the wind out of Riggans and left him gasping for breath on the ground.

Akinora Iwamura then hit a scarifice bunt to the catcher to advance Aybar and Riggans. Rays Manager Joe Maddon said after the game that Iwamura put the bunt down himself without the signal from third base coach Tom Foley. The play ended up being as brilliant move by Aki and helped put both men in scoring position with Upton coming to bat for the Rays.

Upton walked on 6 pitches to load the bases for the Rays. Carl Crawford then sliced a single to left that scored Aybar and tied the game at 5-all. Riggans was now on third and looked labored running around the bases for the Rays. Becuase Maddon had used everyone on his bench, he could not substitue anyone for Riggans to run for him.

Evan Longoria struck out and put the Rays with one out left in the game to try and get Riggans home from third base.

Carlos Pena came up and was down  to a 1-ball, 2-strike count early in the at-bat. Carlos then saw 3 straight balls to earn a walk-off walk and secure the win for the Rays. It was Pena’s second RBI of the game, and one of the Rays most important of the season. 

 

                                     

 

Upon issuing the walk, you could see Curtis Granderson in centerfield slap hid glove down in frustration in giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 10th inning.

 

The game also saw another record go by the way-side. Trever Miller entered the contest decision-less in his last 122 appearances. Miller finally got to celebrate as he earned the win for the game, and put this huge gorilla of a monkey off his back.

Ex-Rays Bobby Seay, who was also in the game for the Tigers’ is the player Miller passed to secure his record. Seay had gone 116 straight appearances from Sept. 5th, 2001-Aug 24, 2007 without a decision.

 

What was lost in the victory was the alignment on the field if the Rays did not score the final run. Maddon had used all avaiable field players in that inning, and did not have any fielding substitues for Riggans, who has never played any position beside catcher in his career.

Maddon remarked that Edwin Jackson, who was drafted vy the L A Dodgers as an outfielder, volunteered to play rightfield for the Rays. Maddon quickly turned down the sincere offer.

Maddon had planned on moving Longoria to short, put Aybar at third, and taken Gomes off the DH to secure the 9 players needed to field the inning. With that alignment, the Rays would have lost the DH position and the pitcher would have had to bat for the Rays.

Great thing we did not have to find out how this all turned out for the team. Riggans could not have played regardless becuase of the labored breathing he was showing on the bases. He would have had to be pulled as a possible precaution in case of a chest injury or possible rib situation.

 

Post Game note:

Both x-rays on Riggans and Bartlett came back negative and both will sit out at least the next game to recover from their injuries.  There is no timetables set yet as to the length of time either will spend recovering, with Bartlett seen bandaged and ready to go that afternoon.

Maddon will probably sit Bartlett for Monday’s game and re-evaluate the situation nightly after the games. Longoria will play short in his absence, if it is short-term. If the injury lingers, or Bartlett goes on the DL again, Ben Zorbrist will be brought up again from  the Durham Bulls.

Riggans should be fine after a few days off and might catch again during the weekday homestand finale on Wed afternoon.

 

 

 

 

  

Pena goes Deep for Rays Victory

 

 

Rays 5, Royals 3

 

In the past, my Sat. night’s when the Rays were out of town did not include Rain Delays and sitting their watching alternative Tv shows. I used to hit my old watering hole about 8-ish, or after 5 innings. Usually by then, you knew what kind of outcome was coming for the Rays.

But, in this playoff-drenched year, you never know what Rays team is going to show up on any night.

Could it be the offensive minded juggernaut who scored at will a few weeks ago, or the runs challenged little cousin we have seen here in KC this weekend. The Rays now have to get up as much for the little guys they are suppose to beat, as the giants in the AL.

In the coming weeks, the little guys are going to decide this pennant race. The Rays used to be in the spoiler roles for playoff bound squads. Now, they are in the crosshairs of teams wanting to shoot the upstarts back to earth and home in October.  We forgot to bring our “A” game against the “little guys”, and the teams we are suppose to beat are beating us to the punch.

We are now the team that should dictate what our record and rise up accordingly. But I think we might not have that strong a opinion of our own worth just yet. We know what talents we have, but are not using or abusing our own goods to succeed this year.

Maybe people are right, maybe we are just scratching the surface and will not be the monster this year. We still have over 60 games to prove the world wrong, but the path is uphill and the Rays have seemed to be on a slippery slope on the road lately

I think the Rays need to finally put that game face on 24/7 and grit it out for the next 60-ish games and show that this team is the one to delegate the playoffs this season, and not be the last one invited to the party.

Time to RSVP Rays, are you up to the test?

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One of the foundations of this teams playoff run this season has been the play of Carl Crawford. In the last few seasons, Crawford has rasied his average and steal totals every season. This year might be the first year he is not going to keep pace with that stat, but Crawford  for the first time in his Ray’s career is not being asked to carry this team.

That has raised some questions into Carl’s heart for the Rays’, or passion for the game. I do not think there is any question that the reason Carl is more aggressive at the plate is that he sees, and knows that this is a turning point year in his baseball career. Not because of contract situations, but because of expectations of the team and himself are finally meeting each other.

For the first time since he put that old Ray’s jersey on his back, he knows that this team can win, and that he can be a cornerstone for that feat.

Crawford recorded two triples last night in a contest that was delayed and dominated by  extreme weather and outstanding defense by both squads.  Crawford went 2-4 last night with 2 RBI’s to help the Rays win over the Royals.

 

 

 

Crawford has his 7th multi-triple game of his career. Carl joined former Royals great George Brett in 3rd place since WWII in  multiple triples games. Willy Mays currently hold the record with 10 multi-triple games in his career. With Crawford’s increase offensive power, that record is sure to fall in the future.

The triples, numbers’ 80 and 81, move Crawford past Hall of Famer Arky Vaughan ( 1939) to become the first player since Vaughan to reach 80 triples before his 27th birthday. C C had been 1-35 in his pervious 8 road games for the Rays.

 

 

 

Scott Kazmir pitched the first 4  innings for Tampa Bay, before a rain delayed the game for an hour and thirteen minutes. Upon completion of the delay, Kazmir threw one more inning before retiring for the night.

When Kazmir came back onto the mound after the delay, his pitches seemed a bit more crisp and  his placement was better. In his 5 innings, Kazmir gave up 2-runs on 7-hits and got 5 strikeouts.

Kazmir came into the game with a 3-4 record on the road, with a 4.10
ERA. Kazmir lifetime had an 5.90 ERA against the Royals.

 

Carlos Pena has been considered a keystone to the Rays push for a winning .500 season and a possible playoff berth. Pena is riding a current 29 game on base streak. It is the longest streak in the majors this year. Pena also hit his second homer in the 9th inning las night to put a cushion on the Rays victory over the Royals.

Pena’s 2 hits in both of those games gave him his first back-to-back multi-hit games this year.  Carlos has been 5-31 in his last 9 games.

Pena’s 17th homer of the season, led off the 9th inning for the Rays, and gave a much needed insurance run for the win.

 

 

Trever Miller, Al Reyes, and Dan Wheeler came on and blanked the Royals before Troy Percival took over in the 9th inning. Miller had better control in his inning, and might have corrected the small error in his delivery that caused him such problems in the Rays’ homestand.

Percival came on in the 9th innig and recorded his 22 save of the season. The save (346) puts him 1 save away from tying Randy Meyers for 8th on the All-Time save list.

Troy’s 9th inning started with Gabe Gross’s misplay of a Russ Gload fly ball that bounced off the Royals Bullpen Wall and allowed him to reach thrid on the play. E German then came up and singled after going to a 2-2 count against Percival. Gload scored on the play and put the Royal to within 2 runs of the Rays.

Percival then retired the next 3 batters, all on hit balls to record the save for the Ray’s 61st win. Percival has made 4 appearances since his return off the DL and is 3-3 in save opportunities for the team. He is holding opponents to a .175 average this year.

 

 

In the 2nd inning of the game, the Rays did an impressive job of moving over the runner and getting a run. It is the type of run producing action that the Rays will have to duplicate often if they plan on staying atop the AL East for much longer.

The inning began with Calros Pena waling to start the inning.  Willy Aybar then came up and bunted Pena over to second base.  A Dioner Navarro single put Pena on third with 1 out in the inning.  Eric Hinske picked up an RBI when he grounded out to second, and Pena scored for the Rays.

Perfect execution of a common National League style of play to get runs on the board. The Rays need to institute this type of situation more in the coming games to help produce and consistantly record runs for the victories. Leaving men on base has been a huge problem for the team this year, and is a great achille’s heel that must be fixed before any playoff dreams can be fulfilled.

 

 

Heads up to all you L L Cool J fans. If you do not get your tickets soon for the Aug 2nd game against the Tigers, you might not be able to see this Rap Giant’s show at the Trop. Tickets are going fast, and when they reach that magical number, the game will be a sell-out.

I think you might see the game sold out by Thursday of this week. The contest will also be a giveaway night, with the first 7,500 fans getting a B J Upton figurine. The figurine features B J  sliding into a base and is a great collector’s item. The night is also African-American Night at the Trop and will be saluting the African-American accomplishments throughout MLB’s history.

So get your tickets early before you have to watch the Youtube videos of this great concert event.    See you at the Trop.

 

 

 

Rays escape with Victory # 57

 

 

Rays 6, Blue Jays 4

 

 

Last night, MC Hammer rocked the Trop with his songs and his high energy dancers. This group had all the energy of 3 Energizer bunnies with some pink fluff to spare. It was one of the best visual concerts I have even been to in my life.

 

Hammer had his music programmed, so he did not have to move around band members or stage equipment. The entire stage for set up for “Hammertime”, and he delivered a lights out show for the Trop fans.

 

I was especially looking forward to a old sone called, “They put me in the mix.” It is a great song with some expanded bass and awesome backbeats. It was also a favorite of mine when I was a skaterat a long time ago.

 

 

Last night’s game was a pitcher duel as expected. We all knew that the first pitcher to blink and show some form of weakness would be the loser in this contest. And the game lived up to it’s billing totally. Toronto ace, Roy Halladay was consistent on the mound for 6th inning.

 

In the Rays bottom of the 6th, the game took a turn for the Rays when Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a single to left. Akinora Iwamura then pushed a bunt single down the third baseline that hugged the white chalk before resting in fair territory for another Rays’ hit. It was Aki’s 15th infield hit of the year.

 

Carl Crawford put down another bunt single to the pitcher to load the bases and set up the drama for Carlos Pena. Pena responded by driving a single to the opposite field and score Zobrist. With the Rays up 1-0, and the bases again loaded Evan Longoria came up and on a 0-2 pitch drilled a grand slam to left.

 

With the bases empty,  B J Upton reached on a infield single to thrid, while Dioner Navarro put down another beautiful bunt to get on for the Rays. Zorbrist ended the Rays inning by grounding out to first.

 

 

B J  Upton had another caught stealing last night against the Blue Jays. Upton, who leads the majors with 12 caughts stealing situation this season, was out significantly on the play.

 

I have said it before, sometime this team give too much leeway to Upton on his baserunning decisions. Most of his baserunning blunders have been self-imposed  because of ill advised leads or bad jumps. But this steal was a perfect example of the cather knowing his tendencies and reacting to them without a flaw.

 

                            

 

Cliff Floyd  has gone 6-20 in the last 6 games. He has also srated in 5 of the last 10 games, and with a single on Friday night, snapped a 0-20 streak  with men in scoring position.

 

Floyd expanded on his streak by 1-4 with his 7th homer of the year. The homer would provide a cushion for the Rays later in the game. Floyd has a .340 average lifetime at the Trop.

 

 

Rays starter Matt Garza pitched 7.2 innings of 2-hit shutout ball before giving the ball to the Rays bullpen. Garza got 6 strikeoyut on 102 pitches to get his 8th win of the season.

 

Garza pitched a brilliant game mixing his pitches against the Jays and retired the first 6 batter to face him before Scott Rolen singled to leftfield.  Garza then retired the next 12 Toronto batters before giving up a single to  Matt Scutaro to start the 7th inning.

 

Garza was replaced by J P Howell in the 8th inning. Howell got ther last out of the inning and was replaced by Trever Miller to start the 9th inning.

 

The 9th inning turned out to be the big inning for the Jays. Miller, who had come on to relieve Howell gave up two  quick hits to put Adam Lind and J oe Inglett on second and third with no outs.

 

Miller was replaced by Al Reyes, who had just come off the DL with shoulder tendonitis on Friday night.  Reyes quickly gave up a single to Marc Scutaro that scored both Lind and Inglett.

 

Then Reyes got Alex Rios to pop out . Reyes then serving  up a ground-rule double to  Matt Stairs to right that hopped over the short wall  by the Bullpen Cafe’ area. That put Scutaro and Stairs in scoring position with 1 out.

 

Dan Wheeler came on without a huge amount of warmup time and got Rod Barajas to ground  out to second base. The play scored Marc Scutaro and the Jays slimmed the Rays lead to 6-3.

 

Wheeler then gave up a double to Lyle Overbay that scored Stairs and cut the lead again to 6-4. Wheeler then got Rolen to foul out to Navarro for the last out and secure his 4th save of the year.

 

All in all, it was an intersting game for the Rays. For the first time in a while, the Bullpen did not come through for the team and gave up 4 runs in less than an inning. But the Rays defense stiffened and got the 57th victory of the year for the squad.

 

The Rays did show that they are overcoming their problem with hitting with men in scoring position, but still left  7 men on base, 3 in scoring position.

 

Last night’s come-from-behind victory was their 25th of the season, which is ranked 6th in the AL. The Rays also improved to 17-11 in 1-run games, only the Ranger at 19-11 have a better record than the Rays in the major leagues this season.

 

Since the Rays swept the Jays at Disney World April 22-24th, they are 20 games over .500.  They entered that series in 5th place in the AL East at 8-11.

 

 

Rays Score, But Still Fall to Indians

 

 

Indians 8, Rays 4

 

 

The worst thing about this 6-game losing streak is the fact it will make the nay-sayers’ and doubters’ more than happy to see a Tampa Bay slump. All year long the media in the upper East Coast has been wanting and hoping for such a slide.

To consider that this squad has not has a losing streak of any length before now is really quite amazing considering it’s history, but the “no”-boys only see the kink in the Rays armor. I have read a few blogs and viewpoints where the Rays have been thrown again to the wolves and are considered only a “comet that shines bright then fades into the black.”

Wow, nice imagery, but what worse is it is from a popular magazine that has seemed to have our backs most of the year. Now, they have taken a “let’s see” approach to us even having a rebound or playoff type year.

All I have to add to this is tha fact that this team has never been here before. We have nopt had a late season push for the playoffs and folded, or even made it then imploded.

Can’t you just reward the effort and know that the best years are still in the can. If we hit the playoffs this year, it will not be the last time. If we get past a few rounds, it might not be the only time you see us in that position. But, can we at least get in that position before the world decides to knock us down…………….and we will get back up and go for it all over again, and again, and again.

 

 

 

Dioner Navarro has had a helluva week. He is going back to New York as an All-Star, and he is going to re-visit his Yankee past while he is there. Remember Navarro was a first round draft pick of the Yankees in 2000.

He has been a constant force on this team this season, both at the plate, and behind it. He will only the 4th youngest Ray to ever make the All-Star team, and the first Rays’ catcher to have that honor.

 

 

When the season began, I questioned his ability as a leader with the pitching staff. Since Texas, I have seen this guy grow by leaps and bounds both in confidience, and in leadership with this young starting pitching staff. You do not find alot of staffs that have a catcher as young as it’s up and coming aces. And you usually do not see them in contention for a divisional title while going through their aches and pains.

For that reason, I applaude and respect the job Navarro has done for the Rays in this first half of the season.

 

                                

                                   

 

Navarro again did it at the plate for the Rays on Sat. night. In the game Navarro went 2-3 on the night and hit a timely 2-run double down the rightfield line in the 8th inning. It helped the Rays extend their scoing in the inning, and help boost the morale on the Rays bench.

 

Cliff Floyd has had an intersting first half to this season. He has battled knee aliments, been shuffling in and out of the line-up, but has come to play every day.  The 14 year veteran has made 34 starts this year, all at DH for the team.

Floyd’s 2-run single  in the 8th inning, snapped an 0-21 streak for runners in scoring position for the Rays. His scoring play was the first Rays runs since Jonny Gome’s 2-run blast in Thursday nights game. Floyd went 2-4 in the contest and ends the first half with a .264 average and 18 RBI’s for the season.

 

                                 

 

Rays starter Matt Garza was trustingf his pitches early on in this game, before he ran into trouble in the 2nd inning. The IUndians took advantage of a control issue with his 2-seam fastball and slider that were just missing and up on the night.

Garza worked  only 5 innings, and gave up 11-hits and 7 runs before being relived by JP Howell,Dan Wheeler and Trever Miller. Garza had 6 strikeouts on the night and gave up two homers to Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko.

 

Eric Hinske had a great night himself on Sat. night for the Rays. Hinske, who had been odd-man out with two straight lefties starting for the Indians took advantage of his time by going 3-4 on the night with 3 singles.

Hinske, who has batted .278 against right-handed pitching this season, seemed in control at the plate and in the field. Hinske was batting 3rd for the Rays tonight in place of B J Upton, who was given the night off by Rays Manager Joe Maddon.

Hinske responded with an outfield assist in the 2nd inning, and several close plays in the game. On one play in the 2nd inning, both Hinske and Gross left their feet to try and get a dying ball hit into rightcenterfield. Gross ended up throwing out Carroll on the play.

 

Grant Balfour came on in the 8th inning and worked 1/3 of an inning and gave up a run on 1 hit to end the game for the Rays.

 

Tampa Bay did get 3 outfield assists in the game against Cleveland. The first came in the bottom of the second on a ball hit to shallow rightfield  that Eric Hinske got back into second in time to catch Ben Francisco over-running the bag and being tagged out by Ben Zorbrist for the second out of the inning.

The second was a play at the plate involving  Indian Jamey Carroll, where he tried to score on a ball off the centerfield wall. Gabe Gross retreived the ball and threw it to Akinora Iwamura, who turned and fired a strike to Navarro for the tag-out at home to end the inning.

The last outfield assist involved  Carl Crawford in the 8th inning. Casy Blake had singled to left, and Jhonny Peralta was trying to sneak into third on the play. Crawford put a bullet on-line to Evan Longoria who applied the tag for the 3rd out of the inning.

 

The Rays have hit .210 in this series and have only scored 6 runs. They are hitting .187 on the roadtrip, with 7 runs. The Rays have also only hit .200, with 11 total runs on the 6 game losing streak. The Rays are also hitting only 0.85 ) 4 for 47) with runners in scoring position.

The Rays are currently on pace to allow 665 runs, more than 284 runs less than last season. Only 2 teams in the modern era have had such a huge run drop-off from one year to the next. It would be the 8th greatest run decrease in the history of the league.

 

Trever Miller logged his 116th consecutive relief appearance without a decision last night tying former Rays Bobby Seay for the longest such streak in the last 50 years. Trever’s last decision was a win in Atlanta on Sept. 30, 2006.

Prior to this series, Rays starters have allowed 3-earned runs or less in 20 of the last 21 games. In this series, they have allowed, 6, 5,and 7 earned runs in the first 3 games.

The Rays pitching staff had held opponents to a .244 average this year, 3rd lowest in the majors. But, Cleveland has batted .352 and have scored 26 runs

 

The Rays starters have failed to go 5+ innings only once in their last 30 games.  The Rays have made 22 erros in their last 23 games. The Raya began the season by only committing 30 in their first 71 games.

 

                      

 

 

Tribe Scalps Rays to 4th loss in a Row

 

 

Indians 13, Rays 2

 

I was just reading a article about changing and updating the All-Star game on ESPN.com. It was a very interesting article and had alot of great changes that could and should happen to liven up this 3-day carnival of baseball. One of the unique ideas was to have a roster spot or two added for a “living legend” participant.

 

Now that would be a veteran that might be winding down a fantastic career who doesn’t have the offensive or defensive muscle they had in their primes. I think this could be used as a “Thank You” spot on the roster.

 

An example, Ken Griffey Jr. could have been this years legend.

 

We all know how much he has meant to the game, and will be in Cooperstown without a doubt. But this stage gives baseball, and the fans a chance to truly give him a standing ovation or the send-off with respect and admiration for his feats. I would stand up and clap for at least 5 minutes for his feats and amazing career.

 

Another idea was to set a spot on each team with a designated “set-up” guy.

 

You know, a J P Howell, or Dan Wheeler who is on top of his game, and who is feared by opposing batters. The All-Star rosters are full of back-end closers and no true set up guys who do a boatload of work to get the closer in a position to save a win. Wheeler for example has 20 “holds” this season. That is one more than the entire Royals relieving corp, and is one of the best in the AL. Should he have a spot on this roster?

 

Another great example is the Cub’s setup guy,Carlos Marmol, who has allowed only 23 hits in 50 innings. Seattle’s Brandon Marrow,who has a 0.65 ERA as a setup man.

 

There are more ideas, but these two caught my eye and should be put into effect in next year’s All-Star game. These roster spots would increase the players invited, but aren’t these positions more important than a 4th catcher, or a 3rd second baseman.You make the call………

  

Before I get started here, we need to truly understand why the system worked for Evan Longoria in the Monster  Last Vote to the All-Star game. It could have been the pounding and repetition voicing and reminders by  the radio and television broadcast teams about voting for Longo.

 

It could have been the Rays video supporting his inclusion with ESPN/Rays Guru Dick Vitale, or it could just be that we finally believe we have a true All Star in this guy. I am going to go with the last one.

 

I think we truly have a guy we all can enjoy here. In the past, Delmon Young was so standoff-ish to the fans he could have been invisible before he steps on the turf. So he would not have won such an honor by our fans. But, Longoria has been a delight from the day he signed his first contract.

 

And, by the way, it might have been the fastest signing of a 1st pick in history. Evan wanted to play baseball, plain and simple. And he did work his way up the right way. He won championships in Double-A, he struggled but found himself in Triple-A, and when he stepped on the field in the 12 game of the season, he was cheered and applauded. He had arrive, and we were more than happy to welcome him into our home (Trop.).

 

 For that reason, I think we all banded together and did multiple and massive votings online and by text to get this kid in the All Star game. By the way, he had more than 9 million votes…………9 million reason more to love watching this guy play ball.

 

 Here are a few fun facts about the All-Star game voting for Longoria:

He is the first Rookie ever voted into the game on the Last Vote concept since its inception in 2002.  He is only the 3rd Rookie third baseman to be selected to the contest. Also selected were KC’s Kevin Seitzer (1987), and the Twins’Rich Rollin (1962).

The first Rookie third baseman to make the roster since the Red’s Chris Sabo in 1988.

 

 

 

 

Andy Sonnanstine was going for a place in Rays history last night. The problem is, he might be remembered more for the loss in this contest than for trying to establish a great pitching record.

 

Andy was going for his 11th win of the season, which would have been 1 win more than Rolando Arroyo and Scott Kazmir before the All-Star break. Instead, Andy had a 5th inning that he would love to forget.

                                  

 

In the Cleveland 5th, Sonnanstine lost all sense of control around the plate and seemed to leave the ball up constantly in the inning. His breaking ball was not hitting it’s sharp points and rolling through the strike zone.

 

 When the 5th started, the Rays and Indians were tied at 2-all in the game. By the end of the inning, Sonnanstine had lost the game, and it started an avalanche towards one of the Rays worst losses this year. Sonnanstine’s 5th inning started great as he got the first two Cleveland batters out in order, but with 2-outs in the inning, it began to unravel for him.

 

The next six batters hammered him for 5 runs, including 2 homers. Sonnanstine for the night gave up 3 homers in 2 innings. He had last given up a home run on May 21st in Oakland. Andy had gone 46 innings and faced 202 batters since his last homer. Sonnanstine will finish 10-4 at the break, and is the only Rays pitcher with 10 wins this year.

 

                                     

 

Jonny Gomes has been itching to show he still has the stuff to play every day, and can still hit MLB pitching. In the 3rd inning, Gomes connected on a curveball up in the zone and deposited it in the leftffield stands. Willy Aybar was on base, and the homer put the Rays 2-0 at the time.

 

It was Gome’s 7th homer of the year. The homer out some confidience in the Rays offense who had been held in check the previous 2 games in New York against the Yankees. The last hit for Gomes was his pinch hit homer in Pittsburgh on June 28th. This stadium has not been good to Gomes, who is 5-26 lifetime at Jacobs/Progressive Field.

 

                                

 

Andy Sonnanstine was not the only pitcher to have a rough outing in Cleveland Thursday night. Gary Glover probably had the worst relief appearance of his career last night.  Glover entered the game with the score in favor of Cleveland 8-2. In the 8th inning, Cleveland would sent 11 batters to the plate and score 7 runs off Glover. Glover pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up 6 hits and 2 walks to the Indians.

 

Glover also had 2 wild pitches during the inning. Glover threw 46 pitches in the inning before being replaced by Trever Miller for the final out of the inning.

 

In the 9th inning, the Rays got walks by Carlos Pena, and Eric Hinske, and a single by Willy Aybar to load the bases with 2-outs for Ben Zobrist. He ended tp taking a called 3rd strike to end the game for the Rays.

 

In this roadtrip, the Rays are hitting 2-33 with runners in scoring position. This statistic shows the struggles by the Rays offense right now to get rid of this 4-game losing streak. The Rays are also hitting .189 during the recent slide.

 

The loss also added to the Rays woes in this stadium where they have lost the 10th straight game here. The last win in this stadium was on Sept. 28, 2005. The Loss drops the Rays another game closer to Boston. The Red Sox are currently only 1.5 game behind the Rays for the lead in the AL East division. The NY Yankees did not pick up a game since they lost their make-up InterLeague game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

 The Rays did have some great news last night. ESPN did a Sunday Conversation with Rays’ Manager Joe Maddon. This is a first for the Rays, and should be great PR for the team.

 

Also the Rays are still the best team in baseball with a 55-35 record. The Rays are on pace to win 99 games this season. That would give them a 33 game improvement over last season. That would match the 1946 Red Sox for 3rd best turnaround in MLB history

 

Mentals errors cost Rays against the Astros

 

Astros 4, Rays 3

 

After a killer sweep of a series like we just had with the Chicago Cubs, you know there had to be some kind of backlash that would plague this squad for at least one night. 

 Well, we got the fatique and the mental clouds Friday night in our first contest against the Houston Astros.

Considering we also had the Astros ace pitcher on the mound, Roy Oswalt, that could combine to make for a long, long night.

 It was good to see old friends come back into the fold.

Ty Wiggington was there with his usual gruff and serious stare, Jose Cruz Junior was just chillin’, and Brandon Backe was loving every minute of it all seeing old friends and taking pictures with the fans. 

Good to see former guys’ coming in and still playing ball against the Rays. Backe will have an extra smile on his face Sunday as he faces his old squad for the first time  as an Astro.

 Should be an interesting afternoon for a few of us in the crowd who think Brandon is an outstanding pitcher and want to see him do great things today, but also want our hometown team to beat the Astros for their 10th series win of the year.

Maybe he can have 5 good innings, and we do our usual late inning push and win the game.  Win…..win for both sides Sunday.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The youngest player to reach 3,000 hits was Ty Cobb at age 32.

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I am going to get this out of the way early today. Rays starter Matt Garza  was a victim of an offense that was stymied by a great pitcher and  he took the loss to move to 5-4 for the year.

 Garza pitched 6 strong innings and gave up 7 hits and 3 runs to the Astros. He showed mental toughness and  did not show any frustration or adverse emotion on the mound. Garza got 8 strikeout before leaving tonight and showed mass improvement in his location at the plate.

 

 

The Rays Bullpen again came in and closed out the game by shutting down the Houston offense. Trever Miller and Gary Glover pitched 2.0 innings and gave up only a hit each in an effort to keep the Rays in this contest.

The Rays Bullpen this season is currently 7th in the league in ERA ( 3.23), and are first in opponent’s batting average ( .219).

 

           

 

The Rays committed 2 errors last night against the Astros.  Evan Longoria got an error on a hard hit ground ball hit well behind third base, and it should have gone for a hit.

I am of the opinion, that if a ball could not be fielded and put into play before a player can reach a base in a certain amount of time, that play can not be an error.  Evan was almost on the grass of the outfield when he got control of the ball. I guess that is why I am not a offical scorer of the MLB, I might have missed something in the translation.

 

 

The second error was a play in the rightfield Bullpen area by Eric Hinske. It was on a ball hit down the line and curling into the Bullpen area. It seemed like just  a common play, but turned into a classic example of not looking the ball into your glove and searching for the baserunner before you had total control of the ball.

Hinske unfortunately had the ball drop out of his glove and hit his foot and roll behind him a few feet to his left. The Astro’s baserunners advanced on the play.

 It is only Hinske’s 2nd error of the year.

 

 

Even with 2 errors last night, it was just their 2nd multi-error game in 58 games this season. The other recent game was June 8th against the Texas Rangers.  The Ray still lead the majors in defense with only 32 errors on the year.

 

                      

 

Dioner Navarro hit a curving blast just to the left of the rightfield foulpole for a solo homer to get the Rays close against the Astros. It was Navarro’s 4th homer of the season and set the scene for a dramatic ending to the game. Earleir in the contest, Navarro threw out Hunter Pence at second base  to stop a Huoston rally.

 

B J Upton recorded his 8th outfield assist of the year. He is currently tied for 2nd in the AL with Delmon Young of the Twins.

The play actually came about because B J  held onto the ball too long in centerfield, and Miquel Tejada decided to challende his arm and take second base. B J  got in a good throw and Akinora Iwamura applied the tag to Tejeda at second.

 

Eric Hinske did make up for his fielding error at the plate last night by going 2-4 with 2 RBI’s. Hinske hit two singles to center that scored  Carl Crawford in the 1st inning, and Akinora Iwamura in the 8th inning. Dioner Navarro and Hinske were the bulk of the Rays offense last night, getting 3 of the team’s 8 hits.

 

The  bottom of the 9th for the Rays was filled with huge amounts of excitement last night. The Astros inserted their secondary closer, Jose Valverde to pitch the inning.

He got Willy Aybar to fly out to the wall in deep rightfor the first out.

Then Navarro hit his  curving screamer down the rightfield line for a solo homer, then Valverde got Jason Bartlett to hit a liner down to third for an easy putout.

 Aki Iwamura was the last guy standing for the Rays. Aki got a ball outside with Ververde’s first pitch, then took three straight strikes, two of them swinging to end the game.

Rays Ride C.C. to Sweep of Cubs

 

 

Rays 8, Cubs 3

 

I opened my laptop today and went straight to ESPN.com to see if they are finally taking the Rays off the “fluke” label. 

 Much to my amazement, we are still thought to be a minor blip in the Red Sox radar for another  World Series title. Funny, I thought we just SWEPT the BEST team in baseball.  I must be in a sugar induced coma and miss the last few games.

I thought it was a great tribute by Rick Vaughn, the Rays PR guru, in making that  “SUT” sign that hung over the organist area in the Trop during Wed. night’s game.

It was a great personal tribute to Rick Sutcliffe, an ESPN  baseball announcer and great player who is undergoing colon cancer surgery and could not be here for the Cubs vs Rays game.

Rick got to know Sutcliffe while with the Baltimore Orioles PR staff before coming to the Rays.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The first Interleague game was played on June 12,1997,when the Texas Rangers hosted the NL San Francisco Giants. The giants won the first contest 4-3.

 

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The 34,441 fans in attendance were magical last night and gave the Trop. an aire of what kind of atmosphere a playoff game would have in this dome. Everywhere you looked you saw Cub and Rays bantering out their espective teams chances that night.

 

But, I hinge the Cubbie fortunes on one play that signified their series with the Rays. The Cub brought in a Japanese star this season, Kosuke Fukudome to play outfield for the Chicago Cubs. He has been met by instant cult status in the North side of Chicago and has been a important part of the Cubs winning ways.

 

In the 3rd inning, with Fukudome on first after walking to start the inning, Dioner Navarro called for a pitchout on the  second pitch to Ryan Theriot. Navarro had caught Fukudome in “no-mans land” and proceeded out to the pitching mound to get Fukedome to committ either to 1st or 2nd.

Fukedome faked to first and Navarro threw a strike to Willy Aybar that made Fukudome retreat towrds second. a three quarters of the way to second, Aybar threw to Iwamura who outran Fukudome for the out.

 

           

 

 

Rays starter James Shields came out on fire last night at the Trop. Shields pitched 6 innings of 7-hit, 3-run ball before getting into trouble in the 7th inning. In that inning,  Micah Hoffpauir hit a double to deep center for a double, then Mark DeRosa walked on 4 pitches and Mike Fontenot hit a ground rule double to the deep gap in left center to put the Cub ahead 2-1.  Shields was the replaced by Trever Miller in the game.

 

Shields ended up with 9 strikeouts for the night to up his season total to 78, good enough for 9th place in the AL this year.

 

 

 

I was sitting there talking to a Cubs fan from the Fort Meyers area of Florida when Carl Crawford came up to bat with the bases loaded in the 7th inning. The guy was telling me this would be a great time for a double play, but I interjected that C C was past due for some excitement and had not hit a triple or better in quite awhile.

 

 

 

On his second pitch to Crawford, Scott Erye laced a ball to the lower right of the strike zone that C C  deposited in the rightfield stands for his 5th homer of the year, and a Grand Slam to break this contest wide open for the Rays.

 

                           

 

 

There are so many heroes in the game last night, from Crawford going 3-5 with 4 RBIs, to every meber of the lineup but Gabe Gross getting a hit last night. Eric Hinske again came up big for the Rays getting a RBI double  a couple of batters after Crawford’s blast to add to the Rays lead.

 

James Shields caught a bunt pop-up from Cub;s catcher Henry Blanco that might have stalled that drive a bit. The Cub were on a roll before Shields leaned over and took the short pop for the 1st out in the 7th inning.

 

 

The amazing thing is, you could have sat in the Budweiser Brewhouse eating, drinking and enjoying the night and got to your seat by the 7th inning, and you would have seen the best inning of the night. Both teams scored a total of 10 runs that inning, on less than 60 pitches by both teams.

 

You would have seen a Grand Slam, a ground rule double, a regular double, a Sacrifice Fly, and a couple of singles by both squads. You also would have seen  Gabe Gross and Akinora Iwamura each hit by a pitch. Aki’s HBP would drive in a run for the Rays. And last, but not least, you would have seen a B J Upton triple that could have been a Inside-the-Park homer if he had raced to first.

 

 

With the victory, the Rays established a few “firsts” for the franchise last night:

 

With the win, it was the first ever sweep by the Rays of a team with the best record in baseball.

 

With the victory, the Rays tied their best start ever before the All-Star break, and they still have 22 games before the break.

 

Climbed to 14 games above .500, a new team highwater mark, recorded their 3rd sweep of a team in first place at the time of the series. And, secured their 5th winning homestand of the year.

 

 

 

All that and only Eduardo Perez of “ESPN’s Baseball Tonight”, can acknoledge and appriciate the change in this team this year. Eduardo is in a bad position on that panel having played here and knows the trials and tribulations of this team. But he also can see firsthand the changes and the attitude that this club has now.

 

The thing that is truly amazing to me is, that for the first time since I have been a fan, these guys get physically upset and want more out of themselves. And that fever is infectious into the stands, and starting to consume the entire region either by true passion for the sport, or being a bandwagon fan.

 

Speaking of Bandwagons, be sure to check out ESPN.com today as they feature a story on the Cubbie fans coming out of the woodwork right now. It is an interesting article, and well worth a few minutes of your time.

 

 

I am going to paste Rule 9 of the Bandwagoneers Code on here for you, and you see what team’s fan can be put into this rule………hint, hint:

 

9. Avoid “real” fans

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These people think they are better than you. They think because they actually do have real family from Massachusetts or wherever, or because they have invested 30 years in a team instead of 30 minutes, that they somehow are more die-hard than you.

 

They will be suspicious of you. They will ask you questions that can tread dangerously close to revealing that you know little more than how to pronounce “Theriot” or the name of that one underrated player.

 

Shame on them! How dare they try to make you feel guilty for being a bandwagon fan! They are the stupid ones for wasting time rooting for bad teams, right?

 

So steer clear of these people. And whatever you do, don’t let them anywhere near your car. They might get the wrong impression when they see that your bumper is covered in Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Patriots, USC football and Duke basketball stickers.

 

As though it’s your fault that you have deep, childhood ties to all those teams!

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There are several articles on Cub bandwagoning, and general bandwagon ethics. I found the articles entertaining, and I actually recognized a few Rays hopefuls in that bunch of words.   Hmmmmmmm, could be we are becoming a bandwagon team?

 

As long as you buy more hot dogs and beer, Welcome to the Trop., but please do not try and trump the regulars, we bite when provoked. 

Rangers Leave Rays at a Loss

 

 

Rangers 6, Rays 3

 

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

The evolution of the Rays design

RayscurrenttRaysevolve

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

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

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

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

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

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

                  

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

                         

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

                           

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

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

                              

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

      

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

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

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

            

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cliff

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

http://Braverays.mlblogs.com

 

 

 

 

 

Rays Errors Cost Them the Series

Cardinals 5, Rays 4

 

Sunday was a celebration in St. Louis to honor a man who I met as a small child in Spring Training here in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stan Musial was a giant to me then as a kid, and is still a giant on any  ballfield.

Sunday was a day to honor Cardinals great number 6, and his legacy with the Cardinals. Stan came out to the stadium, swung his familiar swing to the crowd, and even gave a memorable speech to the throng of fans in the stands.

The team renamed the plaza in front of the stadium “Stan Musial Plaza,” and also established “Stan Musial Drive” as one of the throughfare surrounding the Busch Stadium.  If that was not enough, the Cardinals let Stan do his harmonica rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the television,and it was a remarkable sight to see the old guy smiling and having fun that day.

                         

As you might remember, Stan Musial was the first major leaguer to hit a home run out of Al Lang Field in St. Pete.

He was also one of the small group that threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Rays first game against the Tigers’ on March 31, 1998.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Until 1859, the umpires often seated in padded chairs behind homeplate.

 

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Last Blog without the coveted “Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” in it. Tomorrow we are going into Oakland Stadium to take on the A’s. Now that we are back in the AL fold, we can fulfill our “GBU” feature again.

 

                                   

The Rays Carl Crawford hit a blistering solo homer to right center in the top of the 8th inning. The homer was Crawford’s 4th of the year. Carl is now hitting .282 for the season and has 28 RBI’s. Crawford is a lifetime .299 hitter during Interleague play.

 

                                

 

I want to take a second to congradulate Trever Miller for passing Doug Creek and becoming the most prolific lefty in Rays history. Yesterday, Tever worked his 141st game as the Rays passing Creek.

 

                    

 

Rays rookie third baseman Evan Longoria is currently number one in fielding percentage for his position in the AL with a .977 average. Longoria has been instrumental in the Rays renewed defense on the hot corner.

 

                          

 

The Rays again were playing aggressive ball and committed a few baserunning blunders in the game.  After a missed call by the umpire at third yesterday, Rays manager Joe Maddon was on the umpire crew on any inconsistancy in their call on Sunday. Rays rightfielder Eric Hinske was thrown out at second in the top of the second inning. The Rays however did steal two bases on Sunday. B J Upton and Ben Zobrist stole second on Kyle Lohse.

                         

Evan Longoria also got the offense started in the top of the second by scoring on the Eric Hinske double. Evan had connected on the ground rule double to deep right center earlier in the inning. Longoria  had a pair of two-hits nights in the first two games of this series, his first two of his career. Evan is batting .304 in his last 6 games.

 

                               

 

 Rays reliever Dan Wheeler is probably glad to be leaving St. Louis tonight, and hopes to not see the Cardinals’ Ryan Ludwick any time soon. Ludwick victimized Wheeler twice in this series for huge homers, and was a constant threat on the basepaths.

 

                               

 

Akinora Iwamura went 2-4 today with a double in the top of the 3rd inning. Iwamura scored after BJ Upton’s double in the same inning.

Aki is now hitting .276 for the season. He has also hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games for the Rays.  Since April 24, Aki has reached base via a hit or walk in 21 straight games and is batting .330 during that span.

                              

Rays starter Edwin Jackson must feel a bite snakebit lately in his starts. In his last three starts, Jackson was in line for a win, but a bullpen error cost  Jackson a victory.

Edwin has 5 quality starts this season, tied for first on the team. Jackson went 5.1 innings against the Cards and gave up 1 run on 6 hits before leaving the game with a 3-0 lead. Jackson has now thrown 20  straight scoreless innings for the Rays. Edwin won his first two starts of the season, but is winless since the Mariners’ victory 7-0 at home on April 10th.

                                  

Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist had about 60 friends and family in the stands for Sunday’s game. He was not penciled in to start the game before Rays manager Joe Maddon sat Jason Bartlett out because of a flu bug going through the Rays clubhouse.

Zobrist made the most of his opportunity getting his first two hits of the season and raising his average to .333. Zobrist’ hit two doubles todays  and scored after stealing third and advancing on the Cardinals catchers  throwing error.

 

Because the Rays are playing on the West Coast tonight in Cali., the game will not be broadcast before 9:30 P.M. I will be posting my blog about the game at 8-ish on Tuesday to get some sleep and come up with more great stats and trivia for your enjoyment.  Have a great day and …………..”GO RAYS!”

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