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    The Tampa Bay Rays recovered from a lackluster performance last night to defeat the Oakland A’s 4-3 to take the rubber game of the 3 game set. James Shields pitched a GREAT game except for 2 pitches he threw in the 2nd that resulted in back to back jacks by the A’s offense. His final line was 8.1 innings pitched, 3 ER, 6 hits and 7 K’s. Troy Percival came in to earn his 20th save.

    The Ray’s offense looked a bit more alive today. Johnny Gomes and Ben Zobrist went deep back to back in the 5th inning to put the Rays on top to stay. Willy Aybar and BJ Upton banged out a couple 2 base hits.

    The Rays head to Kansas City to take on the Royals in a 4 game set. This will be the true test of this team. Historically they have not played well on the road. Recently their play has also come into question at home. So, what team will show up in Kansas City? They must head into Kansas and play like they want to stay in first place. They must improve their situational hitting! I’ll be watching!!!

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on July 23rd, 2008
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    The Cleveland Indians beat up on the Rays 5-0 sending them to their 5th consecutive defeat.  The good news is the Boston Red Sox also lost so nothing changes in the AL East standings.  But, don’t expect the same result the next 2 games!   

    James Shields kept the Rays close most of the game but he did allow 10 hits, a HR, 5 ER, 1 BB and only racked up 4 K’s in losing his 6th game of the season.  Jason Hamel pitched an uneventful 8th and 9th innings for the Rays.  

    The Rays had some fielding issues with Carl Crawford committing his 4th error of the season. Johnny Gomes playing right field misjudged a fly ball allowing the scoring to start for the Tribe.  He had several other flubs out there costing the Rays bases.  

    The offense again was absent.  The Rays banged out 8 hits and managed to strand 9 on base.  Patience again was NOT in the Rays game plan as they gave Cliff Lee 10 K’s and only accepted 1 BB.  The Rays really need to watch what the Indian hitters are doing to our pitchers.  The Indians have been a far superior team the first 2 games of this series.  Their offense has been patient and waiting for a good pitch to hit.  I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit frustrated watching Rays hitters flail wildly at anything heading in their general direction.  They better clean it up at the plate and keep Gomes on the bench in hopes to garner a series split! 

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on July 12th, 2008
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    WOW! That headline says it all! Amazingly Andy Sonnanstine was pitching a fantastic game for the first 4 innings of play Thursday night in Cleveland. His control was dead on. Then came the 5th inning and that was all she wrote. Andy began the 5th inning with a 2 run lead thanks to a Johnny Gomes 2-run blast. Then it all came apart. Andy began to hang pitches right in the middle of the zone and BAM! One after another the Cleveland hitters took full advantage of his mistakes and took him deep 3 times innings costing him 6 ER. Gary Glover also had control issues and allowed the Indians 7 ER in 2/3 of and inning pitched! It was an amazing sight to behold.

    This game could have been different but for 1 play. After Sonnanstine gave up the game tying HR he had the opportunity to escape the inning. He enticed one of the Cleveland hitters into a DP play ball to him. Ben Zobrist threw the ball wide at 1st. The rest is, as they say, history.

    The offense was non-existent once again. Gomes 2 run shot was all the offense could bolster. Another poor performance at the plate against a below average pitcher.

    I know the fan base is a bit upset at how the Rays have been playing but there is some good news in all this. First, we had such a large lead in the AL East that we are still in first place! Second, we still have the best record in baseball with a .604 winning %. Third, the team is going to get some rest and be able to come back fresh. Fourth, every good team goes through these times during a LONG season. This will give them an opportunity to remember how it feels to loose. They will come back with a vengeance! Fifth, WE HAVE 3 ALL STARS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! Love to see Longo in the HR derby!

    I predict James Shields will put and end to this tonight and the Rays will take this series from the Tribe. Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on July 11th, 2008
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    The Tampa Bay Rays let the Pittsburgh Pirates off the hook Saturday night.  The Rays generated 10 hits and 4 walks but managed to leave 12 on base.  Anytime you see numbers like this you know the ending cannot be a good one, this was no different.  Jason Hammel gave up a 13th inning HR to Jason Bay for a walk off win.  Bay had gone 0 for 5 with 3 K’s up to this point.  It’s a mystery having had a guy figured out all game long how you serve up a HR pitch at this point in the game.  SP Edwin Jackson pitched well enough to win the game.  He went 6.2 innings giving up only 6 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB and 3 K’s.

    Johnny Gomes had tied the game at 3 with a pinch hit HR in the 8th.  The game remained knotted at 3 until the 13th.   Eric Hinske, Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett led the offensive charge all hitting 2B’s. 

    The unfortunate fact of this game is that the Rays failed to get hits when they needed them.  Leaving multiple runners on base (12) and giving up a lot of strike outs (10) has been a trend for this team.  I thought that they had finally stepped beyond that point in their development with the offense they have shown on this road trip.   But, maybe that is wishful thinking on my part.  They had an opportunity to end the night sitting alone atop the AL East as the Red Legs lost.  The Rays must gain consistency in these areas to be able to continue to compete in the long term.  Don’t get me wrong, I know they are going to lose games.  If this were an isolated incident I would be ok with that.  It wasn’t, it has been a season long trend. 

    Today’s matchup pits Andy Sonnanstine (8-3, 4.85) toeing the rubber against Tom Gorzelanny (6-6, 6.43).  Gorzelanny has proven to be a model of inconsistency.  He has accumulated 55 walks to only 41 K’s.  If the Rays hitters are patient at the plate they WILL get on base one way or another. 

    This afternoon the Rays have the opportunity to end this road trip 5-1.  That would be a great boost to their confidence heading back home to The Trop for a match up against the Red Sox.  I’ll be watching to see how they improve or adjustments they make to score those runs when they have the opportunity. 

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 29th, 2008
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    Matt Garza pitched a gem scattering 3 hits and allowing only 1 run in 7 innings pitched.  Garza contained his emotions and located each pitch perfectly throughout the evening.  Wheeler and Percival finished the 8th and 9th respectively each allowing no hits and no walks.  The most impressive stat in the last 2 games for this pitching staff has been the lack of free passes allowed – only 1 walk issued in 18 innings pitched.  Nice job!!

    Johnny Gomes started the coring for the Rays in the 2nd inning with a first pitch home run.  Jason Bartlett added to the scoring count by knocking in 2.  The Rays were on the run once again on the base paths with BJ Upton swiping 2, Justin Ruggiano took 1 and Willy Aybar took a base as well.

    This was a well rounded effort from all sides of the ball!  The Fish held our offense to only 5 hits but we made them count.  A GREAT pitching effort and some outstanding defensive plays once again led the Rays to victory.

    Rays finish this Citrus Series today at 1:40 — see you at The Trop!

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 15th, 2008
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    You’ve probably all heard the story by now.  James Shields exacted revenge on Red Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp in the top of the 2nd inning by plunking him in the thigh.  Crisp then took a few steps toward 1st base; a move he admitted was done intentionally to gain a few steps on catcher Dioner Navarro, and then charged the mound.  A bench clearing brawl erupted.  Rays, Shields and Johnny Gomes, along with Crisp were ejected.  

     This all stemmed from the prior night’s game in which Jason Bartlett blocked 2nd base with his knee on a steal attempt by Crisp.  Crisp then intentionally slid cleats first into Aki on another steal play later in the game with obvious intent to injure. 

    I have watched all these plays several times before passing judgment on this issue but here you go:

    Bartlett did as he has been taught to do.  He clearly just placed he knee down to block the bag, same as a catcher would do.  No intent to injure Crisp was in his actions.  His knee was down long before Crisp arrived.  There was nothing wrong with this play. 

    Crisp clearly went into 2nd base with intent to injure when he slid into Aki.  He openly admitted saying he was gunning for them.  This is just flat out wrong.  This is NOT baseball!  Crisp acted like a punk, nothing more, and nothing less.

    Everyone who has ever watched a baseball game knew Shields was going to plunk Crisp.  This is the unwritten rule of baseball.  He did it the right way by hitting him in the thigh and not going head-hunting.  Once again Crisp acted like a punk by charging the mound.

    It is beyond me WHY after all this happened and warnings were issued to both teams, Red Sox starter Jon Lester hit 2 Rays, Crawford and Iwamura, threw high and tight to Floyd and threw a ball behind Aybar and DID NOT get ejected!!  This umpiring crew was clearly BoSox biased through out this series!

    The result of all this remains to be determined by the league front office.  Who will get suspended/fined/both and for how long/how much?  This is the question Ray fans need to be most concerned with.  How many starts will Shields miss?  Effectively he missed his start for this game by being ejected in the bottom of the 2nd inning (Crisp led off). 

    I understand this is an unwritten rule in baseball but I have to question the timing.  Was it really necessary to do it in the 2nd inning?  Couldn’t the team have said let’s win the game first then plunk him?  We have essentially lost a key starter for at least 1 start I’m sure and used 5 relievers to pitch the remaining 7 innings.  All this now being down 1.5 games to the Red Sox and heading into Texas and LAA.  Oh yes, by the way, we did lose the game 7-1.      

    As far as the game itself went, we had many opportunities to score (13 LOB) but could not get the key hits when needed.  The loss of Shields did not prevent us from winning this game — the non-existent offense did.  For this 3 game series these are the offensive numbers:

    ·        Hits = 24

    ·        Runs = 6

    ·        Strike outs = 28

    ·        Left on Base = 28

    We have had opportunity and are not getting it done.  Rather than getting the key hit the opposing pitcher is getting the key strike out.  They need to adjust to the umpires (albeit incorrect) strike zone and make it happen.   

    Off to Texas we go and hopefully our offense kicks into gear.  I hope the ramifications felt by what happened will be positive for this team.  I hope this brings them together as that proverbial “one team” we hear so much about.  I know I’ll be cheering for them no matter what.

    Go Rays!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 6th, 2008
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