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For the first time since the Tampa Bay Rays franchise came into existence someone other than the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox have been crowned the Champions of the toughest division in baseball – the AL East.  That team is our loveable group of blue collar grinders the Tampa Bay Rays! 

The Tampa Bay Rays have had a remarkable year to say the least.  At the end of last season the “Devil Rays” were in the cellar just begging for the season to come to an end.  Their record at that time was 66-96 and they stood 30 games behind the Beantown  Bullies.  The RFO made some changes including having the “devil” exorcised, changing the team colors and filling in a few pieces of the puzzle with guys that were considered “throw aways.”  It was clear beginning in spring training that the changes made would have a major impact on the approaching season.  The Rays showed an explosive offense and improved pitching potential from starters and relievers alike.  They also showed a changed culture that was evident when they literally ran over the Yankees.  They were now a team and they believed in each other.    

Then it began, the regular season.  The Rays broke out with a good April.  They finished in second place for that month with a record of 15-12.  They were only trailing the Boston Red Sox.  From there it just got better!  From the months of May through September the Tampa Bay Rays finished each month atop the AL East.  Many games won on walk off hits, defensive gems and outstanding pitching from the most improved bull pen in baseball history.  A bull pen who the previous year had given up 52 games in which the “Devil Rays” had a lead had now learned how to pitch effectively late in a game.  Some of that turnaround must go to the acquisition of veteran Troy Percival.  Percy had an outstanding first half of the year saving 19 out of 21 games.  But that is only half the story.  His veteran presence made him invaluable to others sitting next to him in the BP.  They watched, asked questions and took notes.  He made the BP better!

The Rays were bit by the injury bug all season long, Scott Kazmir, Troy Percival, Al Reyes, Gary Glover, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, BJ Upton and on and on.  The goods news is those “throw away” guys were able to call on their veteran leadership and step in to fill the needs of this team.  Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd and Willy Aybar walked right between the lines and did the job beyond all expectations I think.  They flashed the leather, made the throws, stole the bases and got the hits.  Newcomers like Gabe Gross, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett also proved more valuable than anyone could have imagined when they were traded for.  When called upon our AAA players filled in for injured players like they had been here all season long.  Dioner Navarro was challenged by Manager Joe Maddon to step up his game, especially on the defensive side of the game.  Boy did he!  With a fielding percentage of .994 and having thrown out 28 attempted base stealers he earned his right to participate in the All Star game.  Oh and by the way, he has led the Rays in hitting most of the year! 

Enough cannot be said of the changes made by the Rays front office and Manager Joe Maddon.  They rid the clubhouse of negativity and brought in guys who wanted to win.  And that’s just what they have done!  Win, win, win!  These Rays are not satisfied with just making it to the playoffs.  Joe Maddon has made it clear this is just the first step of their ultimate goal.  Their sights are set on the World Series – not just playing in it but winning it!

I will be there at The Trop for every playoff game!  I would never miss an opportunity to enjoy such a precious gift the Rays have finally given their long suffering fans!   

Congratulations Tampa Bay Rays and we’re all behind you!

Post info: By Rays6 on September 27th, 2008
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With the addition of submariner Chad Bradford someone had to go out of the Ray bullpen.  That unlucky fellow turned out to tbe El Assassino, Al Reyes.  Reyes has done 2 stints on the DL this year and has been uneffective since his return from the last trip.

Bradford, a side arm pticher with an extremely difficult move to follow, was acquired from Baltimore for a player to be named later.  Bradford is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA this season.  He is a ground ball pitching machine.

Welcome Chad! 

Post info: By Rays6 on August 9th, 2008
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Andy Sonnanstine pitched a nice 6 innings and was backed by his offense to notch his team leading 11th victory.  Sonny scattered 7 hits, 1 BB, 2 ER and 6 K’s in a complete 6 innings of work.  Al Reyes and Jason Hammel finished the game for him and, be it for a blip by Reyes allowing 1 ER, pitched effective and kept the powerful Tiger bats quiet.

The big story of this game was the offensive explosion from the Rays!  They looked like the Rays we came to know and love from the first half of the season.  The offense banged out 11 hits – 5 of which were for extra bases.  Evan Longoria was the offense spark plug going 3 for 4 including his 2nd HR in as many days, a 2B, 3 RBI, 1 run and a stolen base.  The other Rays to add the 2B hit parade were BJ Upton, Jason Bartlett, Shawn Riggans and Akinori Iwamura.   

The impressive thing about the offense was watching them work.  The intensity was higher than I’ve seen it in, oh, about a month.  They worked the counts for walks (7) and really looked like they were energized.  It made the lethargic and less than stellar month of July vanish into past.  It made the future for the Rays look like October was again a reality! 

Go out today and support the team as they go for the sweep of the Detroit Tigers!  See you there!!  

Post info: By Rays6 on August 3rd, 2008
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Another day of ineffective offense destroyed the Rays hopes of taking the series from the Kansas City Royals.  The Rays had opportunity to score runs and continually squandered them.  In the 6th inning the Rays had runners on 2 and 3 with 0 out and could not score a run!  That is story for the Rays so far in the second half of the season, opportunities lost.  The offense banged out 7 hits but only 1 of those hits was worth anything.  Carl Crawford knocked in the lone run.  Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria were the only Rays with a multiple hit day but Pena struck out when we needed the sac fly/hit and Longo did not generate any run production.  It is nice to see Pena swinging a much better bat these days however.

Andy Sonnanstine pitched well enough to win the game.  He gave up 8 hits, 5 ER, 2 BB and 2 K’s in 6.2 innings pitched.  Not his best performance but he kept the Rays in the game until the bullpen entered.  Al Reyes gave up a 2 out, 3 run blast (2 runs charged to Sonny) to Butler to seal the split for the Royals.  

Since the week prior to the All Star break the Rays have not looked the same.  They have looked very lethargic and uninterested on the field.  They have lost their swagger, their intensity.  I cannot think of a reason why.  They are currently still atop the AL East and will be regardless of tonight’s Red Legs vs. Pinstripes outcome.  They need to pull their heads out of their asses and play like they want the playoffs! 

The Rays are not winning the games they should against the “soft” part of their schedule.  If this trend continues it will be a very long August and September for both the Rays and their fans!  See you all in Toronto!

Post info: By Rays6 on July 27th, 2008
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I’m not quiet sure what team that was that appeared against the A’s yesterday but it sure didn’t look like the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays!  Not only was their offensive effort pathetic, the defense was slow and lazy and the bullpen imploded late in the game once again.  Andy Sonnanstine made 1 bad pitch to give up a 3-run blast to Jack Hannahan.  Other than that his effort was adequate as he left the game with Rays in position to win.  Sonny pitched 7 innings scattering 5 hits, only 1 BB and 5 K’s.  Trever Miller then entered the game in the 8th and it was downhill from there.  Miller, whose effectiveness has been declining with each passing month, did not record an out in the 8th but gave up 1 hit, 2 BB and 3 runs.  Al Reyes then followed Miller’s disappointing performance with one of his own.   Reyes actually recorded 3 outs but not before he gave up a hit, a BB and another run.  Jason Hammel capped the bull pen performance by “mopping up” the 9th inning allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. 

 The offensive effort in this game matched the bullpens’.  The Rays actually had runners on base in just about every inning but only managed to push across 1 run.  A base running blunder by Carl Crawford took the Rays out of a possible scoring opportunity.  With bases loaded and 1 out Carlos Pena hit a sac fly to left field.  The throw in was cut off, as there was no play at the plate with Aki scoring the lone run, and CC was hung out to dry between 2nd and 3rd for the 3rd out of the inning.  The offense managed to rack up 7 hits and 5 BB with only 4 K’s.  Looking at that line you’d think we’d have won the game.   

The defensive effort was less than stellar also.  Ben Zobrist was charged with 2 errors.    

This performance was reminiscent of days gone by…..the old Devil Rays.  The team showed no hustle, no grit and determination.  They were standing out there just going through the motions.  Clearly the Rays front office must make some tough choices if we are to make a late season push for the playoffs.  The Red Legs are lurking only .5 games behind and playing a weak schedule.  Those that wear the pinstripes also gained a game and are now just 3.5 games back.   

It seems painfully obvious they really need to make a deal for a RH hitter with some pop.  Someone we can sign to be a part of this team for years to come.  NOT a player on “loan” until the end of the season.  It seems pretty clear that bull pen changes need to be made also.  Rumor has it that Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon spent about an hour behind closed doors after the disappointing loss last night so stay tuned Rays fans…..trades/moves may be on the way!

Post info: By Rays6 on July 23rd, 2008
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The Tampa Bay Rays banged out 10 hits, including 2 HRs, and scored 6 runs Saturday night en route to a series victory over the Toronto Blue Jays!  The Rays sleeping beast – their offense – appears to have come out of hibernation.  Evan Longoria led the charge blasting his first career GRAND SLAM in the 6th inning.  Cliff Floyd added another HR to dead centerfield on the first pitch he saw in the 8th.      

Until the 6th inning the game was locked in a pitchers duel between Matt Garza and Roy Halladay.  Garza pitched an almost flawless game.  The only marks against him were 2 hits in 7.2 innings which included 6 K’s!  He was outstanding against a tough hitting Toronto team.   

The ineffective bullpen made the game interesting allowing the Jays 4 runs on 5 hits in the 9th inning!  The Rays ended up using 3 pitchers in the 9th inning alone.  Trever Miller, Al Reyes and Dan Wheeler were off the hook when Wheeler eventually managed to shut the door.

Great to see the bats come alive!  The Rays also put a lot of pressure on the defense by lying down several bunts. Akinori Iwamura and Dioner Navarro took the defense by surprise and beat out bunts for base hits. Adding the bunt to the Rays offense is going to put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses and they need to KEEP DOING IT!   

Great game and looking forward to another today!  Get out to The Trop!  See you there!

Post info: By Rays6 on July 20th, 2008
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It was another low scoring game tonight and this time it was the New York Yankees beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1.  The Rays were only able to push across a run in the seventh inning Dioner Navarro had a rbi single.

James Shields took the loss for the Rays as he dropped his record to 4-3.  Shields didn’t really pitch bad as he only gave up six hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings.  There was just no run support for Shields.  Trever Miller and Al Reyes pitched the final 1 2/3 innings without giving up a run.

Not much on the offensive side as Navarro had the only rbi for the team.

The Yankees and Rays will battle again on Thursday.  Rays Blog

Post info: By TBRays01 on May 14th, 2008
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The Tampa Bay Rays could not control the New York Yankees bats on Monday night as four different Yankees hit home runs.  With the loss to the Yankees, the Rays drop one game under .500 with a 6-7 record.

Al Reyes who was pitching in relief picked up the loss for the Rays.  Rays starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine got rocked as he only pitched 3.1 innings and allowed nine hits and seven earned runs.  Sonnanstine but the Rays in a big hole early, and it was just a little to big for them to come back from.

Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton hit back-to-back home runs in the 7th inning.  It was Longoria’s first home run of his major league career.  Carl Crawford led the Rays with three RBI’s in the game.  Eric Hinske also contributed with one RBI.

Rays Blog

Post info: By TBRays01 on April 14th, 2008
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