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    JB

    The Tampa Bay Rays knotted the World Series at 1 game apiece by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 Thursday night. SP James Shields was every bit the “Big Game James” we’ve all come to expect. The intensity on the man’s face while he’s on the mound is amazing! When he doesn’t throw a pitch exactly where he wants, his head looks like it’s going to explode. Shieldsy went 5 2/3 scattering 7 hits and 2 free passes while striking out 4. The big story is he allowed 0 ER. With runners standing 90 ft away James dialed up 3 K’s 3 different innings to quiet the Phillies fans! It was awesome.

    The Ray offense played a great game of “small ball”! The Rays used station to station advancement, safety squeeze and opposite field hitting to move runners into scoring position. It was great to see the team not thinking about the home run ball. It really looked as if BJ Upton was over swinging in game 1 trying to put the ball out. BJ had 2 nice hits to right field! Jason Bartlett laid down a beautiful safety squeeze bunt allowing Cliff Floyd to score easily.

    This was a great game! The series now swings to Philly. There is a high possibility the Saturday night game will be rained out. This would mean pushing the games back and no off day between games 5 & 6. Could be some interesting managerial moves made if this happens. Keep your eyes posted on the weather in the Northeast!

    Go Rays!!!!!!!!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 24th, 2008
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    head down

    The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox hooked up for game 1 of the ALCS at The Trop Friday night.  It was a magical atmosphere in the dome but the Rays offense was vanquished by Dice-K Matsuzaka.  This game was one of the premier pitching match ups of the season.  James Shields toed the rubber for the Rays in an effort to get an early jump on the BoSox.

    Dice-K ran into trouble several times through out his 7+ innings of work but always managed to work himself out of it.  Notably in the first inning Dice-K walked the bases loaded and then managed to get Cliff Floyd to roll over and hit a lazy ground ball for the third out keeping the Rays off the board early.  In the 7th inning the Rays Carl Crawford managed the first Ray hit of the game, yes that’s right the first hit in the 7th inning, and went to 3rd on a Floyd single.  Now with, at that point, the tying run on third with 0 out the Rays could not even manage a long fly ball to score the run.  

    The Rays made the BoSox pitching staff’s jobs a bit easier by swinging on counts of 3-0 and 2-0 all night long and having nothing to show in return.  The Rays lack of big game experience seemed to rear its ugly head in this lack of patience all night long.

    Well nothing positive to note from the offensive side of the game.  The Rays managed only 4 hits and 4 free passes for the game.  That’s a shame as Shields pitched just as well for the Rays and deserved a better fate.   

    In my opinion the difference in this game was the experience factor.  The Rays had opportunities to score runs multiple times but could not muster the key hit.  The BoSox didn’t have many more opportunities than the Rays to score runs but they managed to be patient and, rather than swing for the fences, focused on the base hit to score the runs.  

    The Rays have now put themselves in an early must win situation in my opinion.  They cannot go to Fenway down 2 games.  That will spell doom for them.  The Red Sox would have far too much momentum.  If the Rays are patient at the plate they will score against Beckett.  Even though his postseason numbers are incredible through his career he has struggled a bit as of late due to a rib injury.  Scott Kazmir will take the mound for the Rays and he must keep the ball in the park for the Rays to have a chance.  If the Red Sox get out to an early lead the momentum given to the Red Sox will be difficult to overcome.  The postseason is their stage and they know that.  I don’t really think the Red Sox care too much about winning or losing the division pennant.  Their focus has always been to make it to the playoffs where they seem to become an entirely different team.  The Rays have to squash the thought that we will lie down for them early in this game 2.    

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 11th, 2008
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    2celebration

    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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    Rays Clinch Playoffs

    They did it!  For the first time in the franchise’s 11 year history the Tampa Bay Rays will play baseball in October!  Scott Kazmir seals the deal with a nice 6 inning outing.  Kaz scattered 5 hits over the 6 innings while allowing 1 free pass and compiling 5 strike outs.  Kaz did manage to work himself into trouble a few innings but was bailed out by stellar defense.  With bases loaded and no outs a Twin batter hit a pop fly to Fernando Perez in CF.  The throw was cutoff by Carlos Pena who had the play in front of him and caught Justin Morneau leaning too far off 2nd base for a double play.  The runner on 3rd did not tag and score. The last out in the inning was recorded with no runs scoring.  That was a great play by Pena to help bail out Kaz in that inning. 

    The offense chipped away at Twin pitching to score their total of 7 runs in 4 innings.  Pena led off the scoring barrage with a 2 RBI double off the SP Slowey.  The big bangs came off the bats of Cliff Floyd and Perez, each sending solo blasts over the wall.  The Ray hitters showed a great deal of patience at the plate and took the Twin SP deep into counts.  This was a great overall offensive approach to the game! 

    It was awesome to see the Rays celebrate on the field at the end of this game!  Actually it was unbelievable!  At the beginning of the season it was clear this Ray team would improve on past performances.  But no on had any idea by how much.  I was going to be thrilled to see the team go .500 as I’m sure most Ray fans would have been.  But this…..this is beyond all belief!   Joe Maddon and the RFO deserve a ton of credit for GREAT talent evaluations and GREAT management of such!  They took some veterans who were cast off from other teams and infused their leadership into the youth of this team.  They made a GREAT trade for Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza.  They rid the clubhouse of any negativity.  They brought up the young AAA talent and put them in positions to be successful.  And the players themselves…..they never gave up.  No matter the circumstance they fought every game until the end.  Enough cannot be said about the chemistry of this team.  This is a special group enjoying a very special year.

    The year isn’t over yet though.  The Rays have their sights set on the AL East pennant.  They gained a game on Boston with Boston losing to Toronto.  I expect to see the Rays play as they have all season long Sunday and take the series from the Twins.   

    Congratulations Tampa Bay Rays!

     

    Post info: By Rays6 on September 21st, 2008
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    Edwin Jackson pitched a strong 7 innings giving up 6 hits and 1 ER to earn his 11th victory for the Rays this season.  The Rays did what they have done all season long and took another series!   Dan Wheeler notched his 10th save of the season as well.

    The story of this game was the long ball and awesome defense.  The Rays collected 10 hits in total, half of which were for extra bases.  Akinori Iwamura smacked 2 doubles, Gabe Gross chipped in with a stand up triple, while Cliff Floyd and Willy Aybar blasted solo bombs!    

    Eric Hinske laid out for an extra base saving catch in the top of the first inning!  Hinske still has some giddy up in those legs.  And for the second night in a row a Ray defender made Sportscenter’s 10 Top Plays.  Great job!

    Today I purchased my postseason tickets!  I’m so excited!  This is going to be awesome!  The Rays are hosting the Baltimore Orioles this Labor Day weekend while the Red Sox will be hosting the Chicago White Sox.  We may look to pick up and additional game or 2 in the standings!   

    Get to The Trop and enjoy a GREAT family experience together!  If you haven’t been top The Trop lately the new Rays front office has improved the family friendly atmosphere tremendously since they have taken over. 

    Cheer on your Rays! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 29th, 2008
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    Who would have thought at the beginning of the year it would be Andy Sonnanstine leading the Rays pitching staff with 13 victories?  Well, it is true!  Sonny earned #13 by defeating the hard hitting Angels 6-4.  He pitched very well and had many of the Angels hitters swinging at air and looking bad!  Sonny pitched 5 1/3 giving up 5 hits and 3 ER.  It really was a good pitching performance from him especially against a very tough Angel lineup.

     The big bats of the Rays made a statement today against the Angels pitching.  Eric Hinske and Cliff Floyd both hit 2-run blasts!  The Rays collected 13 hits and 2 walks off the Angels with only 3 K’s.  Nice job at the dish! 

    BJ Upton managed to make another ridiculous out.  After hitting the ball to the base of the LF wall Upton was too busy admiring the shot to hustle into 2nd base.  He trotted around 1st and as he did this the Angel’s LF threw the ball to Teixeira who was following Upton and tagged him out.  Upton looked like he had seen a ghost.  He could not believe he had been tagged out.  Guess what BJ – these other teams are scouting you!  They have you listed as lazy!  Great play by the Angels!  The good news in all of this is that Floyd and some of the other Ray players have stated they are now taking the matter into their own hands.  About time!

    Great game tonight!  I think this series will prove to all the naysayers out there!  Yeah, believe it or not some of these yahoos out there still think those that wear pinstripes are going to make a miraculous run.  Give it up folks! The Tampa Bay Rays are the NEW Beast of the East!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 19th, 2008
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    The Tampa Bay Rays took the series from the Oakland A’s in 12 innings taking this road trip’s record to 5-2 so far. They begin the last leg of this 10 game trip tonight in Texas. I’m not really sure how to characterize this victory. Was it a great victory in that the Rays kept grinding? Was it a lucky victory in that the Rays made a ton of mistakes? Was it a bad victory because we should have put this team away easily? Well…..I guess none of that really matters as WE WON!

    The Bad: James Shields struggled through his 5 innings of work mightily. He allowed 5 hits, 5 free passes, 1 HR and 4 ER. Clearly James’ road woes haunted him in this game. BJ Upton was doubled off of first base on a fly ball that took the A’s RF to the wall. Upton forgot to retag 2nd base on his way back – are you kidding me with this??!! Troy Percival thought that cutting in front of Carlos Pena to field a late inning bunt then running down the runner rather than tossing it to first base was a good idea. WRONG — yes, we got the out, only because the runner ran out of the baseline, but Perci is probably going to join CC and Longo on the DL for his 3rd time this season with a sprained knee. Perci – you’re old dude, let the young guys take care of the details! Grant Balfour earned his first blown save of the season by giving up a game tying single to Frank Thomas.

    The Better: The Ray offense banged out 13 hits and accumulated 7 free passes. Rocco Baldelli played 6 innings and made an outstanding diving catch in RF. Jason Bartlett returned to the game as a late inning replacement at SS.

    The Best: Willy Aybar had a nice day at the plate going 2 for 5 with a 2B, 3B, 1 run scored, 2 RBIs and 1 BB. Cliff Floyd showed his great eye for the K zone by going 1 for 2 with 4 free passes, 2B, 4 runs scored. Carlos Pena broke the 5-5 tie in the 12th by crushing his 23rd HR of the season. But most importantly – WE WON!

    Concerns for today’s game: The Rays used every pitcher in their bull pen in this game. If Garza cannot go deep we may have to use a few tired arms against a very potent Ranger offense. Rocco played hard and ran a lot in this game so he’s probably not available for the opening game in Texas.

    Go Rays!!!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 15th, 2008
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    The story of game 2 between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians were the Ray bats. The offense banged out some timely hits and some long blasts to help Edwin Jackson earn his 8th victory.

    Several Rays had big offensive days! Dioner Navarro lead the pack with a key 2-out, 2 run game tying single and blasted a solo shot to right field. Navi finished the day going 2 for 3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and 1 BB. Impressively all 3 of Navi’s RBIs were collected with 2 out. Navi wasn’t the only Ray to go long! In the same inning Evan Longoria hit a monster blast to left and Cliff Floyd went deep over the center field fence. Among the other extra base hits the Rays collected Aki and Gabe Gross each hit triples and Carlos Pena had 2 doubles. Over all the Rays collected 10 hits, scored 8 runs and had 7 extra base hits – great day at the dish!! The Rays collected their 5th back to back HR game when Floyd and Navi did it in the 7th.

    The pitching staff was not stellar; from the starter to the BP they all ran into issues. But they came up with big outs when they needed them and had a nice overall day!

    It was a great game to watch as a Ray fan! You can definitely see the Rays pulling it all together again after a poor July! They look confident and relaxed at the dish and their defense has been outstanding. Today the Rays go for the series victory early (get away day) with first pitch at 12:40 – IT’S ON FSN!

    Go Rays!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 6th, 2008
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    Hey Rays fans!!  The Rays bats looked a bit livelier last night!  Good news on the horizon maybe????    The Rays banged out 9 hits in last night’s Tiger whoopin’, 6 of those hits were for extra bases!   That was great to see.  A lot of hustle around the base path, turning singles into doubles, swiping bags and even a bunt attempt put the pressure on the Tigers and they retreated to the safety of the den.

    Carl Crawford led off the hit parade with his 5th triple in his last week or so.  Jason Bartlett added another triple.  Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria belted solo blasts.  Akinori Iwamura and Cliff Floyd laced doubles.  The aggressors on the base path included BJ Upton, Eric Hinske and CC, and let me tell you, these guys had such good jumps it wasn’t even close!  Great to see these guys put the pressure on the defense.  It was clear they were in the head of the battery.  Keep it going! 

    The pitching wasn’t as great but it was sufficient to hold the hard hitting Tigers to just 2 runs and preserve the victory.  Scott Kazmir struggled with his control mightily!  I really can’t remember the last time he pitched so poorly…that being said he get s break from me.  He has been our staff ace and through several years the only SP this team could count on.  He is having an off year (by his own comparison) but he’s a smart guy and I believe he’ll have it all figured out just in time for our PLAYOFF RUN!      

    The bullpen faired well except for a couple of minor bumps.  Troy Percival somehow seems to keep getting it done.  He earned his 24th save last night.  Overall this was the line of the pitching staff: 9 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, 9 BB and 11 K’s.  They only negative in that line is the 9 BB – but 6 were by Kaz, that shows how much he struggled. 

    This was a GREAT TEAM effort!  It seems like not making a deal by the deadline rejuvenated the Rays.  It showed them the confidence the RFO has in the players they have.  They certainly looked like a different team from that team of the past month.  It will be interesting to see if they come out with that same intensity tonight.   

    See you at The Trop! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 2nd, 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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