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    The Tampa Bay Rays fall a dismal 3 games to 1 in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.  Andy Sonnanstine could not hold the Phillies silent and lasted only 4 innings.  In his 4 innings he allowed 5 runs (3 ER) and gave up 3 walks.  One of his walks was with the bases loaded, the first time in his professional career he has walked in a run.  It was obvious from the start that Sonny did not have his best stuff.  His location was not even close.  Sonny throwing at such a low velocity relies on his location to quiet bats.    Sonny wasn’t the only pitcher who had problems Sunday night.  All the Ray pitchers had problems Sunday night.  All in all they gave up 4 HR including the first ever HR to opposing pitcher Joe Blanton.

    The offense clearly did not fair much better.  In this game alone the top 4 hitters were 0-15 with 1 BB.  Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria are without batting averages so far in the World Series.  Having your 3 & 4 hitters with a BA of .000 by game #4 is not a good sign.  The runs we scored were off HR by Carl Crawford and PH Eric Hinske (welcome back ‘E’).

    The Rays look like a group of tired old men sitting on the bench as they bat.  The smiles and laughter have faded from their faces.  That used to be the hallmark of this team.  No matter the situation they had a good time together as a group.  That attitude made for many comebacks during the course of the season and the playoffs.  Unless the Rays can put the past few games behind them and come out aggressive at the dish this World Series will end Monday night.  This is not an easy task no matter their attitude as the Rays will face the best the Phillies have to offer in Cole Hamels.   

    So, Ray fans keep the faith, work the cowbell and give the Rays everything you have in good mojo Monday night.  The Rays have certainly given us more than we could have ever expected this season.

    Go Rays!!   

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 27th, 2008
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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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    The Tampa Bay Rays lost their composure on the field and a game in the standings by giving away game 1 to the New York Yankees. They made costly mistakes on both sides of the ball.

    SP Matt Garza clearly showed his frustration on the mound by throwing the rosin bag down several times through out his 5 innings of work. He was clearly irritated at the miniscule strike zone that Rays arch nemesis, Umpire Brian Runge, was calling. Garza was stellar the first 3 innings of the game then it all began to unravel in the 4th and 5th innings. Garza committed an error by throwing a ball far beyond the reach of Carlos Pena and gave up a 2 run blast to Xavier Nady. A dropped ball by Jason Bartlett that would have been an easy caught stealing on Derek Jeter led to another run. The frustration was evident on Garza as he allowed 6 runs (4 ER) in his 5 innings of work.

    The offense did not back Garza’s cause either. An uncharacteristic lack of fundamental play by Eric Hinske cost the Rays 2 runs early. With Willy Aybar standing on first Hinske blasted a line drive to the LC gap off the top of the wall. Hinske put his head down and ran all the way to third. Problem was Ray’s 3rd base coach, Tom Foley, held up Aybar at 3rd. Aybar was then forced off 3rd by Hinske and thrown out at the plate. On the next play Bartlett hit a fairly soft grounder that Rodriguez had to travel to the hold to his left. Hinske not breaking on contact did not score.

    The Rays out hit the Yankees 12 – 9 but stranded 10 on base. The offense gave up a lot of free outs to the Yankees by way of 11 strike outs, 8 by our top 3 in the lineup. The Rays definitely had opportunities to advance runners and score runs but failed.

    This game was uncharacteristic for the Rays on all sides. The best thing about this game for the Rays is the OUTSTANDING catch BJ Upton made off the wall in deep CF. No one in The Trop thought he was going to catch up to that ball. It was one of the best catches ever!

    Today is a new day! The Rays beat themselves up for about 30 minutes after the game and are now focused on today’s game. That’s one of the great things about this team. They understand bad games will happen and move forward. Tonight should be a total turn around for our Rays!

    Go Rays!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on September 3rd, 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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    The Tampa Bay Rays were trying to be the first team in Roy Halladay’s career to beat him 4 times in a single season.  Well, Halladay had a different idea.  He pitched with a vengeance Tuesday night at The Trop.  It was clear form pitch #1 that he had his best stuff working and James Shields did not.  Shieldsy struggled through 6 2/3 innings allowing 4 ER on 9 hits and 2 free passes.  Shields showed his grit and competitive nature by keeping the Rays within striking distance but it wasn’t meant to be.

    The Rays offense showed the occasional spark but Halladay and his compadres in the bullpen silenced them quickly.  The only mark against Doc was a 2-run single by Eric Hinske.  Hinske was the only Ray with multiple hits in the game.  The Rays were also kind enough to give Doc some easy outs by striking out 11 times.  BJ Upton was kind enough to chip in with 3 of those.   

    I have to admit I was a bit surprised with the lack of energy the team showed during this game.  They looked lethargic and tired.  Having had a day off Monday I would have expected them to have recovered form the difficult trip to Chicago.  Maybe it’s the ridiculous lack of fan support.  To see 2 of the premier pitchers in the AL only 13,400 fans showed up at The Trop.  Unbelievable! 

    People!  Get off your couch and get to The Trop!  See you there

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 27th, 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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    Yes, you read correct!  With bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th and MLB RBI king Josh Hamilton stepping to the plate Joe Maddon signaled for 4, 4 pitches outside to intentionally walk in run #3.  The move paid big dividends as Dan Wheeler recorded a K on Marlon Byrd for the save right after the walk.  Nice move Joe!!

    Scott Kazmir recorded his 9th victory this season.  He pitched a solid 6 innings holding the potent Ranger offense virtually silent.  Although he again had a high pitch count, 114, he only allowed 2 ER on 4 hits while giving up 4 free passes.  Kaz also racked u p 7 strike outs.  He said he felt much better after this start so hopefully this means he’ll pull it altogether just in time for the stretch run and on into the playoffs.

    The offensive burst came in the form of extra base hits.  Out of 10 total hits for the Rays 6 were for extra bases.  Carlos Pena belted a 3-run shot and BJ Upton knocked a 2-run shot.  Adding to the extra base parade were 2Bs by Upton, Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross and Willy Aybar. 

    The bullpen was a bit of a concern.  Juan Salas appeared for the first time and promptly gave up 2 ER on 1 hit and 1 BB.  Grant Balfour followed him and gave up 3 BB in just a third of an inning.   Balfour really needs to find a second pitch.  His fastball is lights out but when that’s all he’s throwing these professional hitters are going to catch up to it.  Last night his control was clearly not good with the fastball.  It would be nice to see him add something else to his arsenal.  

    The Rays finally go home with a very successful 7-3 road trip.  Yes, these weren’t the best teams in the league they faced but isn’t that the point, beat the teams you should?  Well, they did.  They also improved their road record to 30-31, best in the Al East at this point.   The Rays are home for a possible 3 (depends upon TS Fay) game set against LAA.  Then back to the road for 3 against the CWS.  These 6 games will say a lot about the current state of this team.  Now they are playing the best the league has to offer.  This is where the affect of injuries will show themselves or not…..up to the guys playing between the lines.

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 18th, 2008
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    Andy Sonnanstine pitched masterfully (aside from a 4th inning bump) to earn his 12th victory to lead the Rays staff.  Sonny pitched 6 complete scattering 6 hits, allowing 2 ER and 1 free pass while collecting 6 K’s.  Sonny hit a bump in the 4th inning and allowed the 2 ER but did a fabulous job in damage control!  Nice job Sonny – that was a much needed pitching performance!

    The Rays faced the Al Leader in ERA, Justin Duchscherer.  I expected a great pitching matchup and that’s exactly what we got.  The Rays touched the Oakland ace for 2 HR early – Carlos Pena and Eric Hinske.  He then settled in and held the Ray bats silent until the 7th inning when Ben Zobrist doubled in the go ahead run.  The bull pen did a nice job, albeit Perci gave up 2 BB in the 9th – NOT GOOD.  Dioner Navarro threw a strike to 2nd base to catch Rajah Davis trying to swipe the bag.  With Navi’s help Perci notched his 27th save. 

    Great game and a great win!  Keep it going Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 14th, 2008
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    It is the only word that can adequately start to describe the Rays and their amazing comeback today!  The Rays take the series from the Tribe in walk off fashion!  WOW…..I still can’t catch my breath!

    The offense was clicking on all cylinders in the bottom of the 9th inning!  Going into the bottom of the 9th the Rays were down 7-4.  Up steps our DH Jason Bartlett – yes, this is not a typo.  JB was not able to throw the ball due to his injured finger but was able to hit.   JB lines a shot to the wall in left for his second 2B of the game.  Next comes Eric Hinske.  Hinske struggled this series going hitless to this point.  BUT, he comes through when it counts drilling a ball fair right over the first base bag for a 2B scoring JB, score 7-5.   Then comes Mr. Clutch, Gabe Gross.  For as many clutch, late game hits this guy has produced for us could he possibly do it again?  One swing of the bat answered that with a resounding smash of the ball off the scoreboard in right field!  Game Tied, 7-7!  OMGoodness, can you believe this?! Still no outs have been recorded! 

    The top of the order, Akinori Iwamura, strides to the plate.  He hits a ground ball to the 1st baseman forcing the pitcher to cover.  Aki hustles down the line and is SAFE!  WOW – could it be?  Batting 2nd is out CF, Ben Zobrist – again not a typo; Upton was benched for not hustling in last night’s game.  Zobi works the Indian reliever for a BB.  Batting 3rd for us 1st baseman Carlos Pena with 0 outs and the winning run standing on 2nd.  With one swing of his mighty bat it is over!!  A LONG BLAST over the CF fence ends the game!  Rays win, the Rays win, 10-7! WOW!!!!  The celebration begins at the plate and all over the Tampa Bay area!

    This game brought to light how well this team plays as a TEAM, no superstars.  SP Scott Kazmir struggled once again allowing 5 ER in 4 1/3 innings.  The BP did a good job holding the Indians at bay for the rest of the game and keeping the Rays within striking distance.  The lineup was questioned by a lot of you (based on reading the message board).  A lot of people playing out of position and one of your better players in Upton benched.  Every one of these guys has had their good days and their bad days.  The TEAM mentality of the Rays allows the guys who are having a good day (Barlett, Navi, Gross, Pena) to pick up those that are having a bad day (Kaz).   

    This was another amazing win in an amazing season!  As a fan I cannot express my thanks to this team for giving us the amazing play they give us day in and day out.  This is a magical season.  We will see playing time in Oct!!!

    Go Rays!  

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 6th, 2008
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    OK, you’ve all heard the saying the good pitching beats good hitting….let me assure you however that bad pitching makes the game interesting! WOW! I am still emotionally spent from that game yesterday, it was amazing!! The Trop was packed and most stayed to see the walk off win!

    This game really didn’t get “started” until the bottom of the 8th inning. Armando Gallaraga had the Rays shut down for 7 innings allowing only 4 hits and 1 ER. James Shields did not pitch his best, allowing 9 hits and 2 ER in 6.1 innings. Shields left the game behind 2-1. Grant Balfour followed Shields and gave up a monster blast to Tampa native Gary Sheffield to run the score to 3-1.

    The Tigers then brought in newly acquired Kyle Farnsworth in the bottom of the 8th and this is when the game got interesting. Eric Hinske led off the 8th facing the 98 mph fireballer Farnsworth. Hinske promptly deposited a Farnsworth fastball over the right centerfield wall to move the Rays to within 1 run, 3-2. Bartlett was over matched by Farnsworth for the first out of the inning. Akinori Iwamura sauntered to the plate and drove a firm single to centerfield. BJ Upton walked to the plate with the tying run standing on 1st and only 1 out. BJ launched a 3-1 fast ball to over the centerfield fence to put the Rays up 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th!

    The Rays bring in Troy Percival to collect his 25th save – NOT!! Curtis Granderson deposited the first Perci pitch he saw into the RCF seats to tie the game in the top of the 9th at 4-4. Uggggg………… The Tigers and Rays then went down quietly into the top of the 10th inning. Once again we run Perci out to toe the rubber and try to keep the Tiger bats quiet. Perci faces Miguel Cabrera with a bad outcome – you guessed it – another home run! Now the Tigers are up 5-4 in the top of the 10th. Finally Perci had thrown his last pitch. Trever Miller came in to close the door.

    Now I have been watching baseball for many years and cannot remember a time when I’ve seen such dramatics in the potential last at bat of a game. Willy Aybar, PH for Gross, walked to start the bottom of the 10th. Jason Bartlett squared to bunt and took a pitch right on the tip of his finger splitting open the nail and causing a lot of bleeding. This and I’m sure the intense pain he was feeling, sent him to the showers with a 0-1 count. Off the bench to PH for him was our last remaining position player — Shawn Riggans. Fernando Rodney throws as hard as anyone, mid to high 90’s. Riggans turned to swing and was hit directly in the middle of his sternum by a 93 mph Rodney fastball running in on him – the crowd went silent as Riggans hit the dirt! All 33,000 + stood and watched with anticipation for Riggans to get up under his own power. I think we all stopped breathing for a few seconds or so! After a few minutes of clear agony Riggo regained his breathe and walked ever so slowly to first base.

    Next Ray to go against Rodney was Aki. Aki laid down a beautiful sac bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. Carl Crawford came to the plate and deposited a single past the drawn in infield to score Aybar with the tying run! The crowd went mad!!!! With runners on 3rd and 1st Upton walked to load the bases. Longo stepped to the plate to become a hero once again. But, it was not to be this time as Rodney clearly overpowered our beloved rookie and struck him out.

    So, here we go fans!!! Bases loaded, bottom of the 10th, tie score, 2 outs …. Up steps Carlos Pena. Carlos hung tough fouling off several pitches and bringing his count to 3-2. Now, isn’t this every young boys dream??!! Bases loaded, bottom of the 10th inning, 3-2 count, 2 out??!! WOW – the stage is set for tonight’s hero. Pena takes ball 4 and, appropriately, it is Riggans who jogs in from 3rd with the winning run!

    WOW – I’m worn out just by reliving the excitement! What a game and what a series!! The Rays appear to have found that intensity they had lost for a bit. They looked great this weekend. Even when the chips were down they picked each other up and played hard as a team! Great to see!

    Get some rest fans! We owe the Indians a sweep! Go Rays!!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 4th, 2008
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