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    celebrate

    The Tampa Bay rays are the 2008 American League Champions!!!  WOW, doesn’t that sound great?!

    I cannot hear it enough!  ALCS series MVP Matt Garza pitched an amazing game yesterday!  Garza pitched beyond what anyone could have imagined.  He shut down the Red Sox in a 7 inning pitching clinic.  He left one bad pitch up that Pedroia made him pay for by placing it over the LF wall.  Beyond that he gave up only 1 other hit, allowing 3 free passes while striking out 9.  Joe Maddon then employed hitter to pitcher strategy and used 5 pitchers in the 8th inning to keep the mighty red Sox bats quiet.  David Price came in with bases loaded and 2 outs in the 8th to dash the Red Sox hopes by striking out JD Drew.  Price earned the save in the game by pitching a solid 9th inning as well.    

    The Ray bats were able to provide just the amount of scoring necessary to catapult the Rays to the top of the American League.  The scoring began with a 2 out double by Evan Longoria to score Carlos Pena all the way from 1st base to tie the score.  Next came a double by Willy Aybar and a nice at bat by Rocco Baldelli to single him home.  The final bit of scoring would be an Aybar blast to LF off SP Lester late in the game.  Due to the outstanding pitching turned in by the Rays staff that was more than needed to push the Rays over the top.  

    This was an amazing all around performance by both teams really.  But the Rays were too much for the Red Sox to handle.  The Rays outplayed the Red Sox in all facets of the game.  Enough cannot be said about the pitching performance in this ALCS by Matt Garza.  He beat the seemingly unbeatable John Lester twice and shut down the Red Sox bats both times as well!   

    Being at The Trop last night was absolutely amazing!  That place was electric!  I don’t care what any national reporters or anyone else says – the Rays have a very devoted fan base.  It was evident in the eyes of those holding big crocodile tears after the victory, the years of sitting in the cellar and hoping for something better next year finally paid off.  I’m emotionally and physically exhausted and need to go lie down now!  LOL – would not have missed it for anything!

    Next, bring on the Phils!  See you at The Trop Wednesday evening for Game 1 of the WORLD SERIES!     

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 20th, 2008
    Comments: 1 Comment »
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    garza

    The Tampa Bay Rays led by Matt Garza made it clear early Game 3 would not be another 11 inning marathon! Garza pitched a game for the ages holding the typically potent Red Sox line up silent. The added bonus to that was the silence of the 10th man, the Fenway Faithful. It was great to see the cameras pan around Fenway and watch the Fenway Faithful sit quietly with their arms crossed over their chests in total disbelief!

    Garza pitched 6 innings scattering 6 hits and 3 free passes while allowing 1 ER and striking out 5. Garza had all of his pitches working and his location was spot on. He exuded confidence on that mound last night. Great to see Matt prove all the “experts” wrong! All I heard in all the post game shows was how Garza’s emotions will be a problem for him on this grand stage. If it were up to them they would have canceled the game and just handed the win to Lester and the Red Sox as clearly the Rays were going to be out matched.

    The Rays offense was having none of that talk! Granted they went out in the first inning allowed Lester a fast 5 pitch, 3 out beginning. But Lester’s luck ran out there. The offense unloaded on Lester early and often! The Rays banged out a total of 13 hits against Lester and Paul Byrd. Of the 13 6 were for extra bases, 4 HR and 2 doubles by Akinori Iwamura. The HR barrage began with a monster 3 run shot out of Fenway by BJ Upton, his 5th HR of the postseason. It continued with Evan Longoria’s solo blast, Rocco Baldelli’s 3 run blast and Carlos Pena’s solo shot! Every Ray that stepped to the plate had at least 1 hit.

    Don’t be mistaken. The Ray’s offense was amazing to watch but the game was won by having a solid game plan and great execution. It was clear in the beginning that the Rays were going to come out and be aggressive against Lester from the get go. The same game plan was in store for the Red Sox offense. Garza and Dioner Navarro did not back down from the heavy hitting Red Sox. They were on the attack pitch after pitch. Garza’s location was pin point and he pounded the strike zone with all of his pitches. It’s been said good pitching beats good hitting and this was a prime example of that old adage.

    Great game plan, great execution! Congratulations to Matt Garza and the Rays for proving all the “experts” wrong! They know nothing! With this win the Rays gain back their home field advantage and lead the series 2-1. It would sure be nice to see the Rays celebrate on the grass at Fenway!

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on October 14th, 2008
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    WOW!   What a devastating loss!  The Tampa Bay Rays fought all the way back in the 9th inning to tie the game then take the lead in the top of the 13th.  That lead was painfully erased as Troy Percival loaded the bases and with 2 outs gave up a grand slam to backup catcher Greg Zaun. Unbelievable!

    I have not made this declaration so far this year but here goes…….This loss sits squarely on the shoulders of our fearless leader Joe Maddon.  It was clear that Percival was struggling and he opted to leave him out there.  Bad move Joe!  It would have still been a bad move had Percival gotten Zaun out!  Percival served up 2 home runs to the Yankees his last outing as well!    

    The Rays showed a lot of determination scoring 3 runs, 2 off a 2nd level blast by PH Rocco Baldelli, in the 9th inning of Blue Jay closer BJ Ryan.  Fernando Perez has made his name known as well on the base path.  Perez was entered as a PR for Willy Aybar in the top of the 9th.   Perez promptly stole 2nd base and scored on a line shot by Dioner Navarro that skipped through the wickets of BJ 2nd baseman Joe Inglett.  In the top of the 13th inning Perez reached base on a FC.  He then stole 2nd and 3rd scored the go ahead run on a 2 out single by Navi.  Outstanding come back!   

    Maddon needs to address several issues this team is having.  The first issue would be his own “loyalty” issue.  Maddon has openly stated that he is a very loyal guy.  Although loyalty is a great character trait it cannot get in the way of winning.  This team has come a long way in 1 season, these players have fought hard.  There is no reason to allow Percival to remain in that game last night when he was struggling as he clearly was.  That needs to stop Joe!  The second issue is our “closer” situation.  Clearly Percival is no longer an MLB closer.  Yeah, I know….last night was his first blown save.  He has saved 27 out of 31.  But, how many of those saves were 1-2-3 outs and involved little to no 9th inning drama.  My answer — FEW OF THEM!  Our “closer” now has an ERA of 4.91!  Something needs to change and change fast.   

    All this being said, the Rays still maintain a 2.5 game lead in the AL East (thank you Rangers!) and still have the best record in MLB!  So, watch today’s game for a series turn around to begin!

    Post info: By Rays6 on September 7th, 2008
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    The Tampa Bay Rays convincingly took game one of the 3 game set with the Chicago White Sox using outstanding pitching and offense.  Edwin Jackson gave a very strong 6 inning performance giving up only 2 runs to the powerful White Sox lineup.  E-Jax scattered 7 hits and 5 free passes within his 6 innings.  Clearly he ran into trouble more than once during his time on the bump, the impressive thing was he did not break.  He managed to get the outs when he needed them including 5 Ks.  E-Jax had some help from the bench and his catcher, Dioner Navarro. The bench called for 2 pitch outs that led to outs at 2nd base. It was as if Joe Maddon knew something the rest of us did not.   Nice job!

    The offense came alive in this game in bug fashion!  The Rays banged out a total of 14 hits – 9 of them for extra bases!  The home run parade included Carlos Pena (26), Ben Zobrist (6) and Rocco Baldelli (1).  That’s right folks!  Rocco’s first dinger since May 3, 2007!  Congrats Rocco!  The hit parade did not stop here.  Akinori Iwamura banged out a run scoring 3B to put the Rays ahead.  And the 2B were many – Willy Aybar had 2 doubles.   Dioner Navarro, Jason Bartlett and Pena also added to the 2B total.   

    The only negative in this game was the top of 2nd inning.  There were 2 major base running mistakes that ended in 2 outs at home plate – never a good idea.  Rocco decided to run on a dribbler in front of the plate – there were runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs at this point.  It was clear it was his own decision and was not sent by Foley, but – bad idea.  The SP Danks grabbed the ball and barely tagged Rocco out but he did.  The next flub came with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd.  On a short line drive to LF Willy opted to tag and attempt to score.  Once again, not a good idea.  Willy was thrown out by a mile. 

    Aside from our mistakes in the 2nd inning this was a well played game on all sides of the ball.  The pitching showed great poise and determination on the mound.  The offense was patient and picked good pitches to hit and did so!  The defense was exceptional as always!  Nice way to begin this tough series.   

    Today the Rays get some much deserved national attention as the FOX game of the week!  Scott Kazmir rides the bump and should show continued improvement on previous starts.  Go Rays!    

     

     

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 23rd, 2008
    Comments: 1 Comment »
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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
    Comments: 2 Comments »
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    The Tampa Bay Rays cruised to a road series victory against the Seattle Mariners Sunday 11-3. Edwin Jackson pitched deep and was very effective against a hard hitting lineup. Jackson pitched 7 only allowing 1 ER. E-Jax pitched with a lot of focus and he pitched to the zone. He gave his defense opportunities to make plays which they did.

    With Carl Crawford on the 15 day DL (maybe longer pending his doctor appointment today), Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett still out it was a different look line up. But Rocco’s back!!! A clean shaven Rocco Baldelli returned to the Rays Sunday and went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a nice diving catch in RF! Welcome Back Rocco!!

    The big bat of the game came from Willy Aybar. Willy cracked a pair of HRs collecting 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored! Shawn Riggans added a 3-Run blast to put the game far out of reach for the Mariners. The hit parade was robbed of a Carlos Pena HR that hit the top of the wall above the yellow line (which by rule is a HR) but was called in play by the umpires. Carlos ended up on 3rd and scored a few plays later.

    This was a GREAT team win! Four of our regulars were out of the game and still the Rays were relentless in their attack. They did not skip a beat. I am not insinuating that CC being out isn’t hurting the Rays. It will at some point. I have a lot of faith in our outfielders BUT let’s be realistic…..Hinske or Gross are not going to track down the balls CC can due to his speed. But, that being said was a great win and should give the Rays a ton of confidence heading to Oakland.

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 11th, 2008
    Comments: 1 Comment »
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