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    A combination of umpire error and Ray mistakes lead to a Ray defeat at the hands of the White Sox in game 3 of the 3 game set, 4-3.  SP James Shields was cruising along through 6 2/3 innings but was lifted for the BP after walking the #9 hitter.  I rarely question what Ray Manager Joe Maddon does however in this case I will.  I know Maddon loves the computerized match ups BUT sometimes you have to stick with what works.  Even though Shields was up to 111 pitches and the hitter hit a HR earlier in the game I still think the best option was to leave Shields in that game.  I have a ton of confidence Shieldsy would have gotten that out.   

    LHP Randy Choate was brought in to face LH Podsednik (mistake #1).  Choate got a ground ball but the ball was a high hop to SS Jason Bartlett who had to hurry the throw and threw it into the dugout (mistake #2) leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd.  RP Dan Wheeler was then called upon to get the 3rd out in the person of Ramirez.  Home plate umpire Laz Diaz gave Ramirez an extra chance by calling a perfect knee high pitch a ball (mistake #3) that should have been strike 3 to end the inning.  Wheeler made the perfect pitch in this situation and the Rays could not have asked for more and it was just taken away.  With his extra life Ramirez rifled a ball to CF that BJ Upton misread…he came in when he should have gone out for an easy catch for the 3rd out (mistake #4). The Pale Hose scored the tying runs and left Ramirez standing at 3rd and later scoring on a single. 

    The 7th inning was not pretty at all!  Mistake upon mistake leaving Shields with another well pitched no-decision.  Maddon just needs to leave Shields finish his games and forget this match up stuff – give the guy a chance to record a ‘W’.  

    Not much to report on the offensive side.  Pat Burrell managed to connect with a ball and drive it into the LF seats for his 6th, yes, that’s right 6th, HR this season.  Burrell needs to offer the Rays a refund on what they have paid him considering he hasn’t performed worth a damn this season!  Gabe Gross also connected for a 2 run bomb to RF. 

    Frustrating loss for the Rays and their fans!  I have to say the only thing the Rays have been really consistent about all season long in being inconsistent.  Again the lack of consistency haunts the ‘D’ and the BP.  Another one of our inconsistent performers, SP Scott Kazmir, takes to the mound as the Rays try to earn the split in this 4 game set.  


    Post info: By Rays6 on July 23rd, 2009
    Comments: 2 Comments »

    The Tampa Bay Rays offense placed an explanation point on the series routing the Phillies 10-4 in the series finale Thursday evening at The Trop.  The Rays fell behind 4-0 after the top of the first but big bats wielded by Ben Zobrist and Willy Aybar leveled the score and the Rays never looked back.  Zobrist hit a 2 run rocket into the LF seats to pull the Rays to within 1 at the close of the first inning.  Aybar hit a ball on the rope right into the left field fair pole to tie the game in the bottom of the 2nd.  The Rays bashed Phillie pitching for 15 total hits and collected 8 free passes!  Out of the 15 hits 8 were for extra bases including double by Carlos Pena, Gabe Kapler, 2 by Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell.  Gabe Gross chipped into the shenanigans with a nice gap triple.  This was a great game for these guys, a nice statement! 

    SP Andy Sonnanstine knew he was pitching to most likely stay in the bigs.  SP Scott Kazmir is due off the DL this weekend and a move (actually 2 with the return set for Chad Bradford as well) will have to be made.  He came out in the first inning and it was tragic.  The score was 3-0 before the first out was recorded.  Sitting in the stands I had to listen to the obnoxious Phillie fans screaming behind me….Ugggg.  I was less than happy as were the Ray fans around me.  After Sonny cleared the first inning he was absolutely shut down the rest of the game!  What an amazing turn around!  He lasted 5 1/3 innings scattering 6 hits (most all in the 1st inning), 4 ER and 1 free pass while striking out 7 Phils!   This really showed me something about this guy.  He is very professional and composed no matter what’s happening on that mound.  He can let go of his mistakes and move forward for a better result.  That being said it will probably still be Sonny sent to AAA as he is the guy with options left…..

    Great game!  Great Series!  Look Ray fans get to The Trop!!!!!!!!!!!!!   You are missing the most dynamic, exciting show on turf! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 26th, 2009
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    The Tampa Bay Ray offense put on a power display in the finale of the 3 game set against the LA Angels.  The offense put up 15 hits, 7 for extra bases including 4 home runs.  Carlos Pena, Dioner Navarro, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford all went deep while Navi, Ben Zobrist and Reid Brignac checked in with doubles.   Gabe Gross chipped in 4 RBI’s in his 3 for 4 performance while swiping a couple of bags as well.  Gabe has been swinging the bat well lately as he’s getting more regular playing time.  Now that Matt Joyce has been sent to Durham with the activation of Pat Burrell Gabe should be able to keep his groove on as he gets time in the OF. 

    SP David Price threw out a mixed bag of good and bad.  He did not figure into the decision as he had to be lifted after 4 1/3 innings due to a very high pitch count (105).  To be honest he got into a lot of trouble in the first inning with a base hit and 2 walks to load the bases but wriggled free without any damage.  Here’s how mixed his performance was – 6 K’s with 6 free passes.  He was brilliant one minute and couldn’t hit the zone the next.  I attribute this to youth and as the season develops so will David.  The bullpen backed Price by going 4 2/3 allowing only 2 hits, 2 free passes while striking out 6. 

    Grant Balfour was credited with the win, his 3rd of the season; half of what he won all of last season.  This is really indicative of the issues our starting pitching has had going deep into games.  There have been at least 3 guys that struggle to get through the 5th inning Niemann, Kazmir and Sonnanstine.  You can now switch Price with Kazmir and add him to that list. This presents the obvious issues for the bullpen being worn out early in a lot of games.  On the upside Niemann has shown much better location as of late allowing him to conserve pitches and go deeper in.  Sonny I think will always be hit or miss and I think he will find himself in the pen upon Kaz’s return.  Price should work it out like Niemann has and, when this happens, will solidify a brutal 5 man starting rotation.

    The Rays host the Washington Nationals this weekend at The Trop for 3.  This series should be a “gimme” for the Rays and allow them to, at least, keep pace if not make up some ground.  See you at The Trop!


    Post info: By Rays6 on June 12th, 2009
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    That headline states it all.  The Rays offense busted out to a 10 run lead only to see it slowly evaporate by poor pitching from start to finish.  Highly touted prospect, SP David Price, got the call when Scott Kazmir was placed on the 15 day DL to open the series on Cleveland.  Mr. Price wasn’t able to stick around long however due to an out of control pitch count.  Price lasted only 3 1/3 innings throwing 100 pitches even.  He scattered 4 hits, 2 ER, 5 BB and collected 6 strike outs.  So off to the bullpen we go.  Lance Cormier and Joe Nelson went 3.2 innings allowing only 1 hit – no ER, no walks, no K’s.  Nice outing for those 2 guys and they were the high point of the bull pen pitching effort.  Dale Thayer, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour and Jason Isringhausen all combined for 1 2/3 + innings pitched, 7 hits, 9 runs and 5 free passes.  Not to be lost in all this was the spectacular error committed by SS Reid Brignac causing only 6 runs to be earned.  This was an absolute ridiculous performance.  Izzy couldn’t hit that plate if his life had depended on it.  At this level you must come out and close the door on a 10 run lead.  Sorry guys – bad, bad performance.  

    The offense was busting on all cylinders the first 4 innings of the game when they scored all 10 of their runs.  From the 5th inning on the door was closed.  Gabe Gross was the big bat of the day contributing 1 hit on 3 attempts, 2 free passed, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.  His lone hit was a 3rd inning bomb, his 3rd of the year. 

    BJ Upton remains leading off and hitting below the Mendoza line.  Yet another ridiculous day for BJ going 1 for 6 with 3 K’s.  Not sure what it’s going to take for Joe to realize he needs to be moved from that #1 hole. 

    The Rays have now lost Akinori Iwamura for the entire year with a torn ACL.  The starting pitching and bullpen are in shambles.  It will be interesting to see how the team recovers from such devastating losses.  If the Rays come out and win this series this game becomes a non factor in discussion.  If they don’t this game becomes the game that potentially ended the Rays season.

    Come on Rays – pull your heads out of your %#*&%$&*!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 26th, 2009
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    Interleague play opened with the Rays traveling south to Miami to face the Florida Marlins in the so called “Citrus Series”.  The Rays scored early and often bating around the order in both the 2nd and 3rd innings.   The Rays in total banged out 17 hits 6 of which went for extra bases.  The home run barrage began with Dioner Navarro knocking his 2nd HR of the season just over the RF wall in the 2nd inning. Carlos Pena then launched a no doubter into the RF seats a few batters later in the 2nd.  Gabe Gross connected for his 2nd HR of the season in the 7th inning.  Navi had his best game of the season so far going 4 for 6 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI’s.  His performance finally catapulted his BA over the Mendoza line. Gross also had a nice game at the dish going 3 for 5 with a walk, 2B, 1 run scored and 4 RBI’s all added to his big blast.  The Rays offense showed a lot of aggression and did not let the Marlins pitchers off the hook for any mistake they made.

    SP Andy Sonnanstine had his 2nd nice outing in a row – this is a good sign that Sonny as worked out the “kinks”.  Sonny went 6 strong innings allowing only 5 hits, 1ER wile striking out 2.  In my eyes the most important stat was 0 walks allowed.  Sonny had his pinpoint control and was hitting his locations precisely.  This was a very nice starting pitching performance – welcome back Sonny!  The Rays rested their bullpen using only 1 RP to finish the game.  Newly promoted RP Dale Thayer follow Sonny and had an equally impressive outing.  Thayer pitched 3 innings allowing 3 hits and 1 ER – and again 0 walks!  Thayer has not velocity on his pitches going all the way to 95 mph.  From there he can dial it down to 82 mph.  In his first outing it is clear he definitely has the talent to succeed at the MLB level.  We’ll keep an eye on his next few outing and see.

    This was a tremendous overall performance by the Rays.  The Rays seemed to have been carrying over some of the energy from the previous night’s walk off win.  With this victory and losses by the rest of the AL East the Rays move to within 4.5 games of first place.  This is going to be a tight race all the way to the end with 4 teams fighting it out all the way to the end.  The Rays send SP Jeff Niemann to the mound in game 2 to continue the winning ways!     

    Post info: By Rays6 on May 23rd, 2009
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    The Tampa Bay Rays pulled into Oakland and broke out the big bats.  Behind a nice starting job by Scott Kazmir the Rays mashed on the Oakland starter. 

    Kaz pitched a very nice 6 innings scattering only 2 hits and 3 BB while striking out 2.  Kaz had a few rough spots allowing the 3 BB but seemed to gather his composure and push through it to earn his 3rd victory of this season.  Kaz looks much better this young season than he did at any point last season.  When Kaz does struggle with his release point he seems to now have the ability to step out of the moment and review the fix in his head then apply it. Nice job Kaz 

    The offense led by Carlos Pena opened up early and often.  Pena belted 2 HR and knocked in 4 RBIs and scored 2 runs.  Gabe Gross added a HR and a 2B of his own.  Gabe also showed a nice arm throwing out Sweeney trying to score from 3rd on a pop fly to RF.  The Rays belted out 13 total hits, 7 of which were for extra bases.  Jason Bartlett continues his hot hitting by going 4 for 5.  

    I still think the lineup should be reconsidered, at least until BJ Upton gets into a groove.  Right now BJ is hitting only .189 with and went 0 for 4 in the game although he did walk twice.  JB is hitting a solid .390 and all pertinent offensive numbers are significantly higher than BJ’s.

    Nice rebound game but I’ll be looking at Saturday’s game.  Here’s the issue I have…the Rays have shown they can have a great game like this from time to time but have not shown any consistency to this point in the young season.  So, we’ll watch with anticipation as the Rays try to go on a winning streak of their own starting with securing the series in Oakland early.    

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 25th, 2009
    Comments: 1 Comment »


    Ben Zobrist came off the bench in the 6th inning to hit a bases loaded bomb into the LF seats at The Trop Friday night to put the Rays ahead once and for all.  This could not have come at a better time.  This game was all about the White Sox until this point.  The Rays had initially taken the lead on Carlos Pena’s 2nd inning solo blast.  The White Sox then answered back with 2 runs.  All the action seemed to take place in the 5th and 6th innings of this game.  In the 5th Dioner Navarro led off with a 2B and came around to tie the score on Jason Bartlett’s 2B.  The top of the 6th proved to be trouble for Rays SP James Shields as he gave up 2 HR (3 hits total) and 3 ER with only 4 pitches to put the Sox up 5-2 just as the Rays had managed to tie this game.  The bottom of the 6th contained all the dramatics for Ray’s fans.  Bases loaded with 2 outs Joe Maddon calls back scheduled hitter Gabe Gross and inserts Ben Zobrist who promptly deposits the baseball in the LF seats.  The Trop went crazy! 

    James Shields struggled in this game.  Shieldsy went 7.1 innings allowing 7 hits (2 HR), 5 ER and 2 BB while netting only 4 K’s.  But something good did come out of this.  After all the dramatics in the 6th inning Maddon sent Shields to the mound in the 7th and let me tell you what a difference.   He was fired up and throwing with a vengeance.  He sat the White Sox down 1-2-3 and did not allow them to gain any momentum.  This was a good call on Maddon’s part, to allow Shields to go grab some confidence and he did just that.  This will pay dividends down the road.

    The bullpen did a nice job with Wheeler, Shouse and Percival combing for 1.2 innings and giving up 0 ER.  However, it was not without incident.  Percival managed to allow runners on 1st and 3rd but get out of that 9th inning mess to earn the save. 

    The one down spot in this game was the umpiring behind the plate.  CB Bucknor has got to be one of the worst ball/strike callers I’ve ever seen.  AJ Pierzynski was blatantly moving his glove, pulling balls back into the strike zone and Bucknor was giving those to him.  Shields and Colon had a nice pitchers duel going on for the first 4 innings or so but Bucknor would not give them anything.  These guys were making some unbelievable pitches at the knees and e would not budge.  It was absurd and I hope he gets called on his performance.  It was poor at best.

    Saturday night Scott Kazmir will take to the mound to keep this train rolling!

    See you at The Trop! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 18th, 2009
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    WOW!!! The Tampa Bay Rays series has been filled with lots of WOW but this……WOW…. The Rays had 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th inning and a lead of 7-0 when the bullpen, our salvation all year long, imploded. Scott Kazmir put on a pitching display we haven’t seen form him all season long. He was awesome. He pitched 6 innings only allowing 2 hits and 0 runs. The game appeared over. Our bullpen was coming in and they have been virtually untouchable in the postseason, heck they have been untouchable just about all season long. Why/how could anyone see what was about to happen?

    Joe Maddon marched Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and JP Howell out to close this game. That did not happen. They didn’t even come close. The three aces of our bullpen, if you can have 3 aces, allowed 9 hits and 8 runs in 3 innings! They gave up home runs to Big Papi and JD Drew. Evan Longoria chipped in with a throwing error that allowed Kevin Youkilis to 2nd base and eventually score the walk off run. It was clear to me from the get go that there may be problems. Balfour threw nothing but fastballs pitch after pitch. Sorry Grant, but in the majors they will catch up with a fastball eventually. You need to find another pitch or two to compliment your fastball. I know you have a slider – ¬use it! Wheels had control issues pitch after pitch. He could not find any consistency. Howell actually pitched well. Had it not been for the Longo error the inning would have been over and we would have gone to extras once again.

    This was definitely a tale of 2 games within the 9 innings. The first 61/2 innings were all Rays! BJ Upton, Longo and Carlos Pena added 3 more home runs to the Rays amazing postseason total. Upton also added a 2 run double of Papelbon late in the game giving him a total of 4 RBIs for the game. The Rays were thieves on the base path – Gabe Gross and Jason Bartlett each had one and Akinori Iwamura swiped two.

    The Ray offense beat up Red Sox starter Dice-K while Ray starter Kaz pitched his best game all season long. Shame he didn’t get that win – he deserved it! Now the series travels back to St Pete and The Trop where the Rays have been more successful than any other team in MLB this season. The Rays are still in the driver’s set leading the series 3-2. I don’t anticipate the rays dwelling too much on this loss on their day off Friday. They have been resilient all season long and I expect to see even more focus and determination coming out of the box Saturday as Big Game James Shields takes on Josh Beckett.

    I anticipate the Rays closing this out Sat and the dome glowing orange as we drive down 275! See you at The Trop!

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 17th, 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
    Comments: 1 Comment »

    How do you hit 5 HR, score 8 runs and lose a game in MLB? I’ll tell you how – bad pitching! The Tampa Bay Rays gave the Twins the first game of this 4 game set by letting them off the hook in the 9th inning. But, we really should start at the beginning with our SP James Shields. Shieldsy was not sharp and pitched into and out of trouble through 6 1/3 innings. He gave up 8 hits, one of which was a first inning 3-run bomb, and 2 free passes that equated 6 ER. David Price made his second appearance of the season giving up a 2 run single to Joe Mauer before striking out the final 2 batters to complete the 7th inning. Troy Percival looked good in his return to the bump by pitching a solid 8th inning.

    The big hurt came in the 9th inning when Dan Wheeler gave up a 2 run blast to tie the game at 8. Wheels then allowed the next 2 runners on base while garnering no outs. Those runs eventually came around to score giving the Twins a total of 5 runs scored in the 9th inning for a well earned victory. This is what the Rays usually do – it has not been done to us!

    Evan Longoria lit up the Twins pitching staff blasting 3, that’s right 3, home runs! He clearly has recovered the eye he had before his stint on the DL and that was GREAT to see! Dioner Navarro and Carlos Pena chipped in with taters of their own giving the Rays a total of 5 for the game. As a matter of fact, the Rays were swinging the bats really well! They added doubles by Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross to give them a total of 7 extra base hits out of their 9 hit total!

    Great offense was derailed by poor pitching in this game. It is a bit of a concern that bad pitching has found its way to The Trop for the 2nd time this week. The first game of the Boston series being the other bad pitching performance this week. I have to also question the Price move. Here are the facts. Price is LHP, Mauer hits better off LHP and the pitch called was thrown right into an optimal location for Mauer to take full advantage, which he did by hitting a 2 run single and breaking the tie in the 9th. It is clear this was a questionable decision to bring Price into the game. Even if Price had elicited an out from Mauer the move must be questioned. Wonder who was reading what charts? Why would Navi call for a pitch right in his wheel house?

    Oh well, a loss, no matter how painful to watch, is still a mere loss to this team. They will come out firing on all cylinders tonight. Edwin Jackson is due for an outstanding performance and tonight is the night!

    See you at The Trop!

    Post info: By Rays6 on September 19th, 2008
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