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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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    SP James Shields gave the best Ray pitching performance of the year so far and the Ray offense could not support it.  Shieldsy went 8 1/3 innings allowing only 4 hits and 2 free passes while striking out 5.  Shields was outstanding and the offense left him hanging with a “no decision”. 

    Now, a lot of people on the Rays’ message board are blaming one or two people for this loss.  As usual it’s the typical few that don’t look at the whole game but rather a brief moment within the game.  So, let me clear this up for them.

    The offense as a whole failed.  The Rays were 0 for 11 with RISP.  The 3-4-5 hitters were 1 for 13 with 6 K’s and 0 runs scored and 0 RBI’s.  As a whole the team collected 8 hits but gave away 13 easy outs via the K and only accepted 3 free passes from Oakland pitchers. 

    RP Joe Nelson came in to pitch behind JP Howell and guess what – he did his job.  Yes, that’s right.  He induced an easy ground ball right into the shift that would have been the 3rd out but was missed for an error by one of our most reliable players, Jason Bartlett.  All of the runs Rays pitching gave up in this game were unearned because of this. 

    So, gang the moral to this story is this – player accountability.  This game was not about Nelson giving up a home run in the 11th, not about JB booting a ball, not about the Rays offense being 0 for 11 RISP – it was about ALL of these things.  If one thing changes in any of that this game could have ended differently.  Don’t blame 1 person in a team sport – there is always something someone could have done differently to change the outcome. 

    Willy Aybar was the guy who came through to prevent the Rays from leaving a doughnut on the board blasting a HR in the bottom of the 11th.  That’s unfortunately the only good offense I can mention….

    So, look – these games are going to happen.  I’d like to see the Rays tonight pick up the situational hitting rather than swinging for the fences.  We have a few guys in a funk right now, Longo, Pena and Upton still, so love to see some of that small ball re emerge like those safety squeeze bunts and the such.  Let’s work the magic!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 20th, 2009
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    The Rays offense took revenge on a game 1 defeat by walloping the Red Sox 14-5 in game 2!  The great thing about this game was that everyone chipped in!  All 11 players that strode to the dish contributed with at least 1 hit.  In total the Rays banged out 17 hits including 7 for extra bases.  Hot hitting Evan Longoria added to his RBI total by collecting 5 while going 2 for 4 with a walk, 3 runs scored, a HR and a 2B!  This guy is locked in at the plate.  He is hitting balls that are in, out, up and down for complete plate coverage.  Can anyone say MVP?!  Another guy who continues to be very hot at the plate is Carl Crawford.  CC was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk and 3 runs scored.   The guy I absolutely love is Willy Aybar.  Look this guy get an at bat/start maybe once a week and he steps up and delivers time after time.  He got the call late in the game and promptly laced a double.  Great guy to have on the bench, professional and always ready to perform!

    SP Scott Kazmir had a bit of a mixed bag tonight.  He did earn the victory but his location was not always great.  In 5 innings pitched he scattered 8 hits, 3 ER, 3 free passes, 1 HR and a wild pitch.  Kaz was his own worst enemy today I think.  He would get up on a batter 0-2 then try to pick at the corners rather than attacking.  That strategy got him into trouble with a high pitch count – he threw 100 pitches in just 5 innings – and forced him to place a pitch over the heart of the plate to avoid a walk.  He managed to wriggle free of the majority of his troubles but really an unimpressive performance.  The bullpen struggled a bit as well, specifically Joe Nelson.  His location was far off and he ended up going only 1/3 of an inning while giving up 1 HR, 2 ER and 2 free passes.  Not much more to say about our pitching as a whole than I’ve said in other posts.  Just unreliable and until they all pull it together games may be an adventure from inning 1 through inning 9. 

    The worst part of this entire game was the broadcast itself.  FOX broadcast this game with Tim McCarver and Dick Stockton calling and they were ridiculous!  McCarver had no idea the names of our players – Akimura??  Who the hell is that?!  Stockton had no idea who scored what runs in what inning.  I mean really…come on FOX get it right! 

    Great offensive performance from the Rays!  Let’s keep that rolling tonight and take this series.  Sure hope Miller and Morgan are studying the actual names of the players!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 10th, 2009
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    Disappoint is an understatement after watching the Rays fall to the Baltimore Orioles Monday night.  There was no facet of this game we looked good in.  The pitching was bad, the defense was bad and the hitting was average at best.

    The first inning was indicative of how the game ended.  SP Scott Kazmir hurled the first pitch of the game behind Roberts and BJ Upton slipped and fell after his grounder to SS and just watched the play unfold rather than get up and run.  After seeing these 2 things I knew it was going to be a long night. 

    Kaz did not pitch well.  First inning 2 walks and a blast later we’re already down 3-0.  In the end Kazmir went 6.1 innings and was tagged with 6 ER.  He had little to know control over the majority of his pitches even though he did strike out 7.  I was sitting just to the left of the Rays dugout and had a clear view of Navarro having to dive from side to side to grab his off location pitches.  Joe Nelson followed and had his worst outing to this point in the season giving up 2 ER in 1.1 innings. 

    The defense has been a huge disappointment to say the least.  Carlos Pena has already committed 5 errors in the first month of the season more than doubling his total of 2 from his Golden Glove season of 2008.  Akinori Iwamura has already committed 4 errors quickly approaching his total of 7 from last year.  Dioner Navarro has not been the All Star performer of a year ago at either side of the dish.

    The offense did manage to rally and tie the game in the bottom of the 6th inning.  But the offense only managed 6 hits – half were XBH – Evan Longoria belted his 8th HR while Pena and Ben Zobrist chipped in with 2B’s.  The guy who was most impressive offensively was Willy Aybar.  Willy steps off the bench to start at DH for the first time in over a week and goes 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.  Nice Job Willy!

    BJ Upton looks silly at the plate, glaring at umpires for punching him out and falling down and lying there watching the play go on without any effort.  I know he had shoulder surgery but is it really a good idea to have him “find his swing” leading off for the Rays?   I’d argue NOT!  Sorry but BJ acts like baseball owes him something.  I know everyone talks about what a great kid he is and he may very well be but frankly I don’t care.  He’s a baseball player that is falling flat on his face during a time when he was supposed to shine.  He has not shown ANY improvement in his approach at the dish and we’re already 1 month into the season.  He needs to be sent to AAA to take care of business BUT since we know that isn’t going to happen he needs to get out of the #1 hole.  Love to see JB move to #1, BJ to #8 and Aki to #9.  Oh yeah, having Navarro hitting #9 is creating a road block for the top of the lineup since he runs like a wounded snail.  Navi to bench (until he gets his head out of his anal orifice) and Hernandez to #7 hole.    

    Look gang here’s what we have:  The MLB Leaders in HR – Pena (11), RBIs – Longo – (31) and Stolen Bases – CC (18).  Now here’s what we don’t have – reliable pitching and defense.  The 2 things we relied upon last year are not there this year.  The things we thought would be improved from last year are not responding well either – mainly Upton and Burrell. 

    Look gang, unless something happens drastically very soon this team will not be playing in October.  I know it’s only May but we’re giving away a head of steam to NYY and BRS.  They are beating up each other and we are not winning the games we should be winning to gain ground. 

    No matter what I’ll still be here cheering until my eyes bug out!

    Go Rays!!!!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 5th, 2009
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    I know it doesn’t seem like it was close due to the final score but the Rays had opportunities and had even brought the score as close as 6-5.  The BP couldn’t hold it there and the offense could not take advantage of the chances they had. So, let’s review…

    Jeff Niemann had a tough outing and only lasted 3 innings giving up 5 ER (6 total runs).  Jeff never looked comfortable and his ability to hit his location was absent.  Jeff looked a bit tentative on the mound.  Look this guy is 6’9” and can bring it – so bring it, be aggressive! Knock these guys on their tails pitching in then finesse something.  You have got to use that fastball to setup your out pitch. 

    Lance Cormier did a GREAT job following Niemann and shutting down the Red Sox.  Cormier went 2 innings giving up only 1 hit.  Grant Balfour followed running into some trouble in the 6th inning.  Balfour allowed 1 hit and 2 free passes to load the bases with only 1 out bringing Youkilis to the dish and Joe Maddon from the dugout.  Brian Shouse was called on to clean up this mess and failed by allowing a 2 run 2B to Youkilis putting the Red Sox up 8-5.  Shouse continued a poor outing by giving up a “no doubter” to Lowell in the top of the 7th.  Shouse has got to be one of the most unimpressive pitchers I have ever seen.  Not sure what the Rays saw in this guy or if they just grabbed him because he was a cheap lefty.  Sure has not shown that he deserves a spot in this BP!  Shouse walks in the 10th run forcing Maddon to go to the BP again because he couldn’t get the job done.  Terrible!  Joe Nelson struts in to save the day and record the last out of the 7th – thanks Joe!  Nelson pitched an amazing 8th inning throwing only 14 pitches, 10 of them for strikes to record the 3 outs!  To this point in the season Nelson has been the best signing of this year by far!

    The Rays offense had responded nicely to Cormier’s 2 innings of work by scoring 1 in the 4th, Carlos Pena’s MLB leading 11th bomb, and 3 big runs in the 5th.  The big blow once again came from Evan Longoria, otherwise known as Evan Almighty, a 2 run 2B with 2 outs. Pena followed with a free pass and Pat Burrell completed the scoring by lacing a 2B down the left field line scoring Longo.   

    The Rays blew a big opportunity to add a run or two in the 6th inning and creep closer.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out the top of the order, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford, gave away 2 easy outs to the Sox. 

    Dioner Navarro is struggling needless to say to this pointing the season.  Look as a catcher I can live with a lack of offense but I cannot live with the horrible defense.  Navi has absolutely been horrible blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out base stealers.  To this point in this game they have 4 swiped bags and a 5th that would have been had the runner not tripped over his own feet.  Look something has to give with Navi one way or another and the coaching staff needs to make that happen.  He is currently a liability both offensively and defensively and it needs to get sorted sooner rather than later.

    Speaking of defense, more errors tonight.  Getting tired of adding these things up!  Akinori Iwamura made his 4th error of the season on a ground ball that should have been automatic. Gabe Kapler also chipped in with his first error of the season.  But, I’m going to tell you what I saw, Kapler made a throw to the plate that would have hit Navi in the chest on one bounce but Navi was standing behind the line rather than in front therefore the ball hit the runner and bounced away.  This error might have been charged to Kapler but it was not his fault.  There was also a ball that Ben Zobrist should have corralled for out at short but he bobbled it allowing the runner to reach base.  Not sure why but the official scorer was in a forgiving mood and scored it an infield hit.  NOT!  These guys need to be out drilling daily until they can clean this up.  You must have good pitching and good defense to win ala 2008.  Good defense can snatch a few victories for “ok” pitching which is what we’ve had so far this season (aside from Garza’s last start) so let’s get this cleaned up!

    The Rays will go for only their 2nd series victory tomorrow when they send James Shields to the mound.  Let’s pack The Trop and give the Rays the “Dome Field” advantage they deserve!  See you there!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 2nd, 2009
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    WOW – the Rays looked awesome on all sides of the ball in taking game 2 from the Red Sox Friday night!  Rays SP Andy Sonnanstine worked his magic once again.  Let me tell you something about this guy – he scares me when he pitches BUT I love to watch this guys work!  He allows hits (8 in 5.2 innings) but his specialty is minimizing the damage which he did by allowing only 2 runs (Sox stranded 10 on base).  He almost seems to work better with runners on base.  Sonny gives you the same every game — expect hits but minimal damage.  He followed through with this theory and earned his first ‘W’ of the season!  The BP of JP Howell, Dan Wheeler and Joe Nelson combined for 3.1 innings giving up only 1 hit and striking out 5.  The BP has improved dramatically over the past 2 weeks from a terrible start and as of last night are 5th in ERA in the AL – nice job guys!    

    The offense was GRAND!  Yes, folks I said GRAND – GRAND SLAM that is!  The bat of Evan Longoria produced all the runs the Rays would need on one mighty swing.  The 6th inning proved to be the knock out punch.  With bases juiced and the Rays down 2-1 Evan Almighty strode to the plate and deposited a 2 strike pitch deep into the LF seats!  That guy has got amazing calm and focus about him.  He never seems to get rattled no matter the situation.  Evan will someday be the MVP of the American League – no doubt.   Carlos Pena capped the scoring in the 6th with a solo blast of his own going back to back with Longo.  The Rays showed some much better at bats as a whole during this game.  They did walk 4 times and strike out 8 times but the strike outs at least worked the count.

    This was the second nice effort in a row and now the Rays have the beginnings of a streak going.  This team has resembled the 2008 team in the intensity and fire for the first time this season.  The view into the dugout told the picture.  Guys were laughing, high fiving and having fun even before they scored runs.  That is what was missing.

    Welcome back Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on May 2nd, 2009
    Comments: 1 Comment »

    pena blast

    The Tampa Bay Rays opened the first of a 3 game set with the Minnesota Twins with a 7-1 victory.  SP Jeff Niemann went 5.2 innings scattering 3 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB and 4 K’s.  Jeff looked good at times and struggled at times (hence the 4 free passes).  He worked himself into a few dangerous situations but he maintained his composure and made the pitches when he needed them.  Another solid performance from a cast of many in the BP for 3.1 innings gives hope that maybe they’ve worked out some of their early season issues.  Joe Nelson has been a workhorse out of the pen putting up solid numbers (current ERA 3.00) and looking better each performance. 

    The offense had a few stars that carried this team on its’ shoulders.  Carlos Pena belted his 8th HR while Jason Bartlett tripled his HR production of a year ago by knocking out HR #3.  Pena was the offensive star collecting 3 RBI’s, scoring twice and lofting a 3B to add to his HR.

    As I said the offense had a few stars but there are also a few that are still a concern.  Pat Burrell, BJ Upton, and Dioner Navarro have not played even close to expectations.  Yes, I know it’s early yet but with each unproductive out passes a missed opportunity we cannot get back.  BJ was moved to #1 because he gets on base a lot – his current OBP is only .288.  Pat was brought on board to knock some guys in – he currently has only 8 RBIs.  Navi – well, Navi looks like the Navi of 2007 not 2008.  His catching has been suspect – a lot of PB and he’s looking lazy behind the plate. 

    I hope as much as the next Ray fan that this victory is the one that starts the proverbial turn around.  Being that we are exactly where we were at the same point last year that is a strong possibility.  But as a realist I know that we cannot rely on 1 or 2 guys to carry this team into the post season.  The rest of these guys need to get it together and start contributing. 

    Here’s to a winning streak of our own – Go Rays!  

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 28th, 2009
    Comments: 1 Comment »

    The Rays gave up the lead in the 8th when JP Howell blew the save by allowing the tying run to score.  The Troy Percival gave up the game in the 9th by allowing Cody Ransom a 2B and eventually scores the winning run.

    This was difficult to watch as the back end of our bullpen failed to save this for Andy Sonnanstine.  Sonny pitched well in his 5 innings of work allowing 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 free pass while getting 3 K’s.  This was a big improvement from his last start.  Joe Nelson followed Sonny for 1.2 innings and allowed 0 hits, 0 runs 1 BB and 2 K’s – nice job!   Then the wheels came off.  The guys we counted on all last year began the unraveling – Grant Balfour, JP Howell and Troy Percival.  Between the 3 they allowed 4 hits, 2 ER 1 BB with 2 K’s.  The remaining .2 innings was pitched by Brian Shouse who did a great job with 0 hits, 0 ER and 1 K.   

    So, not to place the blame on these few guys as this is a team sport, we also had base running mistakes and a few mistakes at the plate.  Gabe Kapler made a poor decision as to when to be aggressive on the base path and was thrown out at 3rd (although he was actually safe per the replay).  Fact is he should have been out and it was a poor decision to run.  Michel Hernandez was picked off first base by Pettitte.  Now, you guys know he has an awesome pick off move so – pay attention please.

    We didn’t do too badly at the dish in collecting 6 hits – 4 of them for extra bases.  Pena blasted his 4th HR of the season to give the Rays a 3-2 lead in the 4th. 

    Essentially we made some mistakes here and there but their BP beat our BP and that’s why we lost.  Now I am not phoning it in for our BP just yet as we’ve only played 9 games.  However I will say that I’d like to see us start making better decisions on when to be aggressive and love to see the BP start to turn it around.  I hope the early bullpen issues are not indicative of the RP having pitched over their heads last season. 

    The Rays open a 4 game set today vs. the CWS……  See you at The Trop!

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 16th, 2009
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    Spring training is right around the corner Ray fans!   YAY!!!  I cannot wait.  Although the new MLB Network has relieved some of my withdrawal it’ll be nice to see live action again.  With that being said, let’s look at the major moves the RFO has made and grade them:

    1.  Joe Nelson.  Nelson has been around a while but has played in limited duties at the major league level.  His first significant ML experience was 2006 with the KC Royals.  He made a big splash in the BP for the Florida Marlins last year.  He has a lifetime WHIP of 1.36.  He racked up 60 Ks to 22 BB last year finishing the year with an ERA of 2.00.  Anytime you can bolster a BP – especially one with little needs like the Rays – it is an excellent signing.  My only concern is that Nelson has not pitched in the majors in back to back years since he first emerged in 2001.  I still consider this a solid signing and will give the Rays a solid B+.

    2. Matt Joyce.   It appears that the Rays got the better end of this trade with Detroit.  We get a solid young (24) player to mold in the “Ray Way.” Joyce has played only 92 ML games but has a decent BA (.252) and has shown some pop (12 HR in 242 at bats).  If you extrapolate that number out to a 600 AB season he has the potential to crack about 28 dingers.  On the downside he only has 92 games of major league experience.  He also has a 2/1 K to BB ratio – if he were a pitcher that would be good thing but….he’s not a pitcher.  Clearly Joyce has some things to learn yet so he may begin the year in Durham.  What we lost in the trade as a pitcher (Edwin Jackson) who may have had the best year he may ever had.  Yes, he won 14 games but Jackson gets in his own way when it comes to growth and improvement.  There was no room in the starting rotation with the emergence of David Price and his focus issues made it clear the BP would not be his place and no options remained.  So, we got a solid young player with a lot of promise and options.  This is an excellent trade and I’m giving the RFO an A.

    3.  Pat Burrell.  Burrell is a veteran leader with great clubhouse presence.  He will fill the void left by the departure of guys like Hinske and Floyd.  He is a slugging RH hitter that has been sorely absent from the Ray lineup. He has racked up and average of 28 HR and 92 RBIs in his 9 seasons.  Add those power numbers to the middle of the Ray lineup with Longoria, Pena and a healthy Upton and you have the power line up we were missing to take us to over that final hurdle last season, a World Series victory.  On the downside Burrell does K a lot, an average of 141 K’s per season.  He also carries a low BA at career .257.  A change of scenery and a new role may spark Burrell to increase his productivity.  I’m giving the RFO a B.

    The Rays made these 3 very significant moves to fill specific needs.  Each of these players possess the ability to become the final spoke in the wheel that is the Tampa Bay Rays.  The RFO have made decisions that, at this point, appear to be ideal for our current situation.  We all know the reality though, only time will tell.

    See you in Port Charlotte! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on January 7th, 2009
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