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The Rays flew into Seattle looking to be very close to the top of the wild card race.  Well, they are technically only 1.5 games out BUT we could have jumped right to the top as the Red Sox were swept in 4.  Now the Red Sox and Rangers are tied atop the wild card, we’re 1.5 games out and we gave away 2 games to a team that is also chasing a wild card berth allowing Seattle to creep to within 3 games from us. 

Game 1 story – pitching was bad.  We gave up 2 leads and allowed a 2 out, 2 strike, 2 run walk off home run.  Yes, that’s bad!

Game 2 story – we rock!  Rays cruise to victory behind the right arm of SP James Shields and the big bats of Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett with 2 RBIs each.  This is Shields first victory since June 20th!  Are you kidding me?!

Game 3 story – pitching was bad AGAIN!  SP Scott Kazmir didn’t last 5 complete once again giving up runs early and often.  The bull pen wasn’t much help as RP Jeff Bennett gave up a grand slam to former Ray, Russell Branyan.  If you look there is a deeper story here.  The Rays have lost 13 out of the last 17 series finale games.  Look guys, if you cannot win the last game you better start winning the first 2!

Now, on top of all this, BJ Upton is now whining publically about being moved to the bottom of the line up.  Hey BJ – have you looked at your numbers the past 2 years?!  Oh yeah, last year was because of a bad shoulder.  What’s your excuse this year?!  You should be absolutely thrilled your ass isn’t sitting in Durham!  Stop crying about it and fix it!  You have no one but yourself and your lack of performance to blame!  Earn it back and stop crying!  No one feels bad for you!

Geez…..what kind of a distraction may this lead to in the locker room?  One of the vets needs to pull this kid aside and tell him to stop acting like a punk.  The Rays are entrenched in an incredible playoff race and he stands around feeling sorry for himself.  Ugggg………

Hey Rays turn this around in SoCal.  This is your last 3 games on the left coast this year (excluding the possibility of playoffs) so win them all!  Be greedy and go get’em!

Post info: By Rays6 on August 10th, 2009
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SP Scott Kazmir turned in his best performance of the season exactly when the Rays needed him to.  Kazmir showed a glimpse of the old “Scotty K”.  Kaz outpitched Yankee SP Sabathia through 7 strong innings.  He gave up 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 free pass while striking out 4.  Considering Kazmir’s struggles the last few years he was really the story of the game.  I don’t think many people, including myself, gave him much of a chance to hold the Bronx Bombers bats quiet considering his poor performances to this point in the season.  I am so HAPPY he proved me and a bunch of others WRONG!  Nice job Scotty K!

The Ray offense backed Kaz’s strong performance by belting out 10 hits, half of which were for extra bases.  Evan Longoria launched a towering HR to LF for his 20th of the season.  Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist each tripled and scored.  BJ Upton and Gabe Kapler each knocked out 2 base hits to add to the extra base hit total.  

The thing that was really impressive for me in this game was the clear sense of urgency and the high level of intensity the Rays put off.  These guys played a stellar defense and hustle every step of the way between the lines.  THAT is what this team needs the rest of the season! 

The final game of this 3 game set takes on a whole new meaning after this victory.  It is an opportunity for the Rays to pick up a game on the Yankees and win this series.  SP Matt Garza MUST keep the ball in the park period.  If he does I say we win this game.  If not it’ll be a struggle for the Rays.  See you at The Trop!

Post info: By Rays6 on July 29th, 2009
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Chicago White Sox SP Mark Buehrle pitched the 18th perfect game in MLB history today against the Tampa Bay Rays.  I have to be honest it was quite amazing to watch a piece of MLB history go down but not so much from the Rays side of it, 27 up and 27 down, 0 hits and 0 walks.  For the Rays SP Scott Kazmir ran into trouble early by loading the bases and serving up a 2 strike fastball over the middle of the plate that the Pale Hose #9 hitter blasted for a Grand Slam.  Of course that would prove to be all the White Sox would need.

Obviously the Rays offense was non existent.  There were a couple of close foul balls but truly the only sniff the Rays had of a hit was a late inning HR ball hit by Gabe Kapler that Dwayne Wise brought back into the park to preserve the perfect game.  Look I know that Buehrle was on but the Rays offense saw only 116 pitches – less than 13 pitches an inning! Could we have made this any easier for him?!

So the Rays are leaving Chicago taking with them a very average 4-3 record since the break.  They have managed to turn around a very promising start to the second half and leave with a depressing loss due to a ton of mistakes and then have a perfect game tossed at them.  By the way, they will have to find some motivation somewhere between here and Toronto as they will face Toronto ace Roy Halladay tomorrow night.

This weekend series means a lot right now.  I know it’s only July but they must recover and recover quickly from a very poor showing in the final 2 games of this series.  They will face Toronto and then come home to face the Yankees.  These bats must come to life!

And by the way, Congratulations to Mark Buehrle!  As a fan of baseball it was amazing to watch, just wish it was against someone else!

Post info: By Rays6 on July 24th, 2009
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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
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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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SP Matt Garza rebounded from his last terrible outing by pitching 8 innings of 1 ER baseball to allow the Rays to even the 3 game set at 1 game each.  Garza was awesome tonight!  He did run into trouble in the 4th by walking the bases loaded but regained his form and got out of the inning with 0 runs scored.  Garza allowed only 3 hits in 8 innings while striking out 7.  This was absolutely his best performance in a few games.  If it had not been for the quantity of pitches he threw in the 4th inning he could have easily closed out the game with under 100 pitches.  The home run bug was the only negative on his stellar performance.  He allowed a HR to Werth that accounted for the only Phillies scoring of the night.  The pitch Werth hit was not a bad pitch.  It was clearly on the edge of the outside corner but it was right at belt level.  Garza, along with the rest of the Rays pitching staff, really need to focus on keeping the pitch down as well as away.

Pat Burrell really provided the only scoring the Rays would need considering the outstanding job done by Garza.  Burrell connected off his former teammate to blast his 2nd HR of the season and driving in 2 runs.  Burrell ended the night with 3 RBIs total which is what we signed him to do.  Hopefully this starts the turn around at the dish for Pat. 

Base running was a bit of an issue for me in this game.  Both Carl Crawford and BJ Upton made a decision after they hit balls to the outfield that they were out.  They started jogging up the line and watched as both baseballs fell to the turf.  Then they turned on the afterburners.  CC was thrown out at 3B when he would have gone in standing easily had he been running out of the box.  BJ was safe at 2B on a close play that should have never been close.  Come one now guys, let’s not start this laziness!  BJ made another costly base running mistake tagging from 3B on a short fly to LF and was gunned at the dish.  Bad move BJ!  You have the middle of the order coming up with only 1 out – you cost the team a run!  Be smart guys, be smart!

The opposite side of this was the hustle by Ben Zobrist in the 8th inning on a ground ball to SS J-Roll.  Zobrist was burning from the time the ball hit the bat and was safe at 2B.  This was awesome to watch!  The Rays ended up scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th.

All in all, good game.  A few mistakes to learn from here and there – I never want to see this base running BS again!  The rubber game of the set sends SP Andy Sonnanstine to the mound for the Rays.  This should be an interesting start for Sonny as he knows he is on the bubble of wearing a Durham Bull’s uni again with the impending return of Scott Kazmir.  Sonny should come out as determined as ever to have a great outing.  I’ll be there to cheer him and the Rays on to the series victory!

 

Post info: By Rays6 on June 25th, 2009
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SP Scott Kazmir and RP Troy Percival were both placed on the 15 day DL Friday.  Kaz was shelved for a strained right quad due to poor mechanics.  Percy was placed for right shoulder tendonitis.  Kaz will continue to throw off flat ground and does not expect to be out long.  Percival was frustrated and flew home to be with his family and discuss his future.  Called up were IF Reid Brignac and RP Dale Thayer.

Interesting situation wouldn’t you say? Love this move by the Rays – this needed to happen!  Kazmir was losing confidence by the bucket.  Kazmir hopefully will be talking to the sports psychologist during his time off and getting his head together before his return! 

Percy may be done.  My thought is the Rays may have pulled him and his 6.35 ERA aside after his awful performance last night and told him he has reached the end.  They may have given him the choice of DFA, retirement or coaching.  My hope is he will stick around to coach if he was given that option.  He is a fiery competitor with a lot of heart, the body is just no longer able.  He has a lot to teach our young pitchers.

An interesting call up of Brignac as well and no SP yet.  A few thoughts on this, Maybe the release of one of the Gabe’s thus allowing Ben Zobrist more playing time, he’s earned it.  In that case they would need an additional backup infielder.  Or maybe a trade of Akinori Iwamura is looming to gain a SP.  Aki is due a new contract and if the Rays don’t think they can afford him for the right price they may deal. 

Kaz would not be due to pitch again until Monday so hang on to your hats kids, the moves are not finished!  Price? Davis?

Post info: By Rays6 on May 22nd, 2009
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Well Ray fans this was about a duplicate performance as SP Scott Kazmir’s last outing.  Kazmir’s line in this game was 4 1/3 innings allowing 8 hits, 7 ER and 4 free passes while striking out only 3 batters.  His last outing against the Tribe last week also netted 7 ER and less than 5 innings pitched.  He is not giving the team a chance to win constantly having to fight back from early inning deficits.  Clearly Kazmir is a shadow of his former self.  The Rays need to figure out the best way to fix this if it is fixable.  For the team as a whole it is not to have him stay in the rotation.  It may be a trip to the bullpen although personally I think AAA would be a better fit.  I cannot imagine the pressure of being called from the bullpen to get an out or 2 in a tight game will help him in any way.  A trip to a sports psychologist may also be in order. 

The bullpen did an outstanding job keeping the A’s bats quiet after they took over for Kazmir.  Four pitchers combined for 4 2/3 innings of work allowing only 1 hit and 2 free passes while striking out 3.  These guys kept the team within reaching distance of the victory and the offense almost pulled it off.

The offense was a mixed bag tonight.  They did a great job scoring 6 runs after already being down 7.  They very easily could have given up.  Carlos Pena opened the Rays scoring by belting out his 14th HR of the year, a 2 run shot, deep into the RF seats.  This was his first HR and a week and a very welcomed sight!  Willy Aybar added to the HR count by belting his 2nd HR in as many games.  Both Carlos and Willy were 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s a piece to lead the offensive charge.  Evan Longoria and Pena added 2B knocks with Akinori Iwamura teeing off for a 3B. 

That as the good, here is the bad.  Again issues with consecutive batters not steeping it up.  In our lineup tonight the 1-2-3 hitters were 1 for 13 with 1 run scored, 0 RBI’s and 5 K’s.  Granted the Oakland pitcher Anderson was pitching well BUT some of these guys looked ridiculous swinging at some of the strike 3 pitches they were swinging at.  They were just flailing with the bat.  There was no intent on the swing it was more of a hopeful swat. 

Look I hate to second guess a manager’s decision but at this point I think we have to call into question the lineup in general.  It doesn’t seem to be a wise idea to bat a .193 hitter #8, a .178 hitter #9 and a .177 hitter first.  I understand Joe Maddon is a patient man and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but what kind of message is he sending to the rest of the team?  As a fan I am starting to feel that not hurting someone’s feelings is a bit more important than winning.  No one is calling for anyone to be demoted to AAA or benched just shake it up a bit please!

OK gang – Rays going for the split a 4:08 Thursday before heading south to Miami.  If they earn the split they will have had a successful home stand at 5-3 but considering the teams we’ve played during this home stand is 5-3 really a success?  I guess only time will tell.  Go Rays!

 

Post info: By Rays6 on May 21st, 2009
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WOW!  The Rays did something never done before in franchise history.  The Ray’s offense recovered from terrible starting pitching to come back from a 7 run deficit to defeat the Tribe Friday night.  This was amazing to watch and really brought back memories of the 2008 magic!  The Rays remained patient at the plate and kept chipping away at the big lead culminating in a Ben Zobrist 8th inning, game tying, line drive BOMB.  Zobi’s 2nd HR in as many games!  BJ Upton had his best game of the season without a doubt!  He made several run saving plays in the outfield including throwing out a runner at the dish to end a Cleveland threat and went 3 for 5 at the dish with 2 runs scored, 1 RBI, a 2B and 2 swiped bags.  But the biggest play for BJ came in the bottom of the 9th inning.  BJ unloaded on a pitch to deep LF for his 1st HR of the season and a walk ff victory for the Rays – their first this season.  This was an outstanding effort all around for the offense.  Having been down so many runs so early it would have been very easy for this team to lie down and quit but they never did.  They gave themselves the chance their starting pitching did not.

A huge effort from the bullpen considering they had to pitch 5 2/3 innings!  Lance Cormier followed Kazmir in and shut the door on the Tribe.  In 5 2/3 innings the bullpen gave up only 1 hit and 2 walks while racking up 4 strike outs.  This was also reminiscent of the 2008 team.  Great job guys!  Everyone has been wondering why the bull pen has been so bad this year.  They are overworked!  They pitch about 4 innings everyday and this gave was no different!  We have 3 starting pitchers out of 5 that routinely barely last through the 5th inning and this will need to improve a ton before we can have hopes of touching October.

SP Scott Kazmir was absolutely horrible.  I hate to be that blunt but it’s getting a bit ridiculous now.  Kazmir lasted only 3 1/3 innings giving up 10 hits, 4 free passes and 7 ER.  He threw 91 pitches in 3 1/3 innings – I mean come on already.  Kazmir has been bad for 2 years now.  I think the Rays should seriously consider sending him to AAA to work out the kinks because he is doing this team no good and has not shown ANY improvement from game to game.  He looks like he’s throwing batting practice every outing.  The offense is averaging about 6.5 runs in May but they cannot do that every day. 

This was a great team recovery effort in this game!  These guys showed signs of life and that never quit attitude they displayed all of last year.  Maybe this is the game that inspires this team to turn that corner.  I will be at The Trop to watch the magic!

 

Post info: By Rays6 on May 16th, 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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