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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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    SP Jeff Niemann earned his 3rd victory of the season.  Niemann lasted 5 innings giving up 8 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB while striking out 2.  In my humble opinion Niemann was less than stellar in this outing and has been all season long.  He was in trouble in most of the 5 innings and a few outstanding defensive plays helped him survive.  I don’t know about you guys but I’m wondering what the hype about Niemann was.  I haven’t seen anything impressive from the guy.  He doesn’t throw hard, he doesn’t have great command, he gives up a multitude of this in every start and he always looks like he’s scared to death standing on the mound.  The guy is 6’9” and should be intimidating his opposition by pitching inside occasionally brushing people off the plate.  He does not show any look of confidence what so ever on the mound.     

    The bull pen did an outstanding job EXCEPT for Troy Percival.  This guy cannot just come in and have a 1-2-3 inning EVER!  Look I know this guy, in his prime, was an excellent closer – his time has passed!  Percival entered the game in the ninth after shutdown innings from Lance Cormier, Dan Wheeler and Brian Shouse and an 8-2 Ray’s lead.  Percival lasted 1/3 of an inning, gave up 4 ER, 2 HR on 4 hits.  Really?!  JP Howell followed the tragedy that was Percy and put a stop to the madness ending the game with a save and a Ray’s victory.  

    The offense tallied up 15 hits including Jason Bartlett’s 5th HR of the season.  Man this guy is on fire!  He is the top hitting shortstop in the league and is beating his next closest competitor, Jeter, by about .90 in BA!  JB finished the day 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and a beautiful bunt for a single in the 8th.  This guy is the complete package as a player.  He plays an outstanding ‘D’, has all the tools at the plate and makes great decisions on when to swipe a bag or 2.   Nice trade RFO!!!!  Replacements Willy Aybar, 1 for 3, 2 BB, 1 run and 1 RBI, and Ben Zobrist, 2 for 2, 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI, did outstanding jobs off the bench!

    Aybar was replacing Pat Burrell who earlier in the day flew to Tampa to see the team doctor’s regarding his neck issues.  There is concern this may land him on the DL for an extended period of time.  Zobrist was called upon in the 6th inning to take the place of Carl Crawford.  CC made an outstanding diving catch in LF and left with a sore shoulder.  This did not look serious and he will probably be listed as day to day.  It’s nice to know that we have such outstanding professionals on our bench.  These guys are always ready to go, they keep themselves mentally in to the game just in case.

    The Rays completed this road trip with a winning record of 4-3.  Nice job guys!  They now head back to The Trop for a 4 game series against Cleveland then with Oakland.  This is the light part of the schedule and time to make up ground!

    See you at The Pit!!!!!!!!! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on May 14th, 2009
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    Man, what a game between our Rays and the NY Yankees!  This game was a pitching dual du jour.  I have to admit going in I was a bit nervous about Rays SP Andy Sonnanstine.  We know he gives up hits but usually manages to limit the damage giving the team a chance to win.  My concern was with the type of hits he may give up – if he kept the ball up there may have been multiple launches out of the new yard.  BUT – Sonny pitched like no one thought he could, no one but himself that is.  He was masterful for 7.1 innings.  He kept the ball low and hit the outside edge like I can never remember him doing before.  He out pitched the Yankee ace Burnett who was also very tough.  The problem came in the 7th inning when the Yankees managed a couple bloop hits and ended with runners on 2nd & 3rd and 1 out.  Sonny was removed and Dan Wheeler came in to strike out Jeter with very impressive stuff.  JP Howell then entered and the flood doors opened.  JP gave up a walk to the first man he faced loading the bases with 1 out for Teixeira.  Tex lined an opposite bases clearing double down the left field line to tie the score.  This was hard to watch as Sonny pitched possibly his best game of the year.  But this has been part of the issue all season long – an unreliable bullpen, at least not nearly as reliable as last year.  Grant Balfour ended up gaining his first ‘W’ of the season and Troy Percival earned his 5th save – albeit not without his usual drama.  After allowing a 1 out double to Damon, throwing a WP to allow him to advance to 3rd with 1 out he managed to get Tex to fly out to short RF and induced Matsui to fly out to LF to end the game. 

    The offense faced an outstanding pitching performance from AJ Burnett as well.  But the offense came through in a few crucial situations to eek out 3 runs off him.  Dioner Navarro had much better at bats going 2 for 3 with an RBI.  The big blow came off the bat of the MLB HR leader Carlos Pena when he belted a line drive into the RF seats in the top of the 10th inning.  Offensively this was not a huge game but I thought the Rays clearly had some better at bats and had some key hits in good situation s to plate some runs.  The Rays are going to run into good pitching through out the season they key is to continue to do what they did last night – make it happen when they can. 

    This night was a good overall performance from the Rays.  If it were not for a “hiccup” from Howell this would have been a shutout. But look, not much went wrong on any side of the ball last year for the Rays but this year they are having “hiccups” on all sides of the ball.  The difference will be how they respond and adjust.  If they cannot we will not see October.  If they respond and pick up the pace we should cruise into the post season.  This is a young team now faced with adversity.  They must adjust!  That being said I expect JP to come out guns a blazin’ the next time he is called upon.

    Keep it moving Rays!

     

    Post info: By Rays6 on May 7th, 2009
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    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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    http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/images/2009/04/09/ZG8TFORq.jpg

    Matt Garza threw a gem against the Boston Red Sox to clinch the series victory Wednesday afternoon.  Garza threw a very strong 7 complete innings to earn his first W.  The only inning Garza ever faced any trouble was the 6th in which he gave up a lead off 2B which would score 2 hitters later on a 3B before recording the final 2 outs of the inning.  His control was excellent aside from the 2 pitches he left up in the zone in the 6th.  His line was 7 innings, 5 K’s, 3 BB and 1 ER.  I have to admit knowing how intense and pumped up Matt can get I was expecting a shaky first inning before he’d settle down.  Garza never showed any negativity on the mound.  His mound presence was intense but controlled.  He was very impressive today!

    The Rays offense also had a nice showing chasing Dice-K after only 5 1/3 innings.  The Rays were banging the ball all over Fenway!  Offensively we knocked out 10 total hits 7 of which were for extra bases!  Matt Joyce began the scoring in the 2nd inning with his first blast of the season.  Evan Longoria followed with a 2 run shot in the 3rd.  Shawn Riggans added to the scoring by sending out a beautiful opposite field blast in the 4th. 

    Shawn Riggans got the call behind the dish today and called an excellent game!  

    The bullpen had a bit of a hiccup giving up 2 runs in only 2 innings pitched.  Brian Shouse gave up one manufactured run but, in my opinion, the big blow came in the 9th when Troy Percival entered the game.  Percy came on and gave up a blast to Varitek on the 2nd pitch he threw.  He then enticed 2 outs but allowed a free pass to Ortiz bringing the game winning run to the plate in the form of Youkilis, something I’m sure many Ray fans were not too comfortable with.  He eventually ended the game when Youkilis flew out to deep CF but it was not pretty.

    First series victory in the books and a HUGE start to the season.  Now off to Baltimore where the Orioles are playing some tight baseball.  Should be a very exciting series!

    See you in Camden Yards!

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 10th, 2009
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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
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    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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    Carlos Pena beats the Red SoxHey everyone, I’m filling in for Brenda as she will be away from the computer for a while. What a game last night in Boston as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 4-2 in 14 innings of action. As I was watching the game on ESPN, I was thinking wow is this game every going to end lol.

    Carlos Pena delivered the big shot in the 14th inning when he hit an opposite field three-run home run to give the Rays the lead. It was a huge shot by Pena as he really picked up the team and that is what a leader has to do at this point in the season. Pena finished the game with three rbi Willy Aybar had one rbi on a triple in the second inning.

    The pitching staff did a great job of holding the Red Sox down. Starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine tossed seven innings and only allowed four hits and one run. The one run that Andy gave up was a rbi double to Dustin Pedroia in the third inning. Trever Miller ended up picking up the victory while Jason Hammel recorded all three outs in the bottom of the 14th inning for his first save of the season.

    Troy Percival attempted to get the save but loaded the bases up and then was taken out of the game even after trying to talk the manager into staying in. People have to wonder if Percival is still a little bit hurt. If he is, he shouldn’t be out there on the mound.

    We will be back blogging about the Rays on Friday when they take on the New York Yankees. Rays are up 2.5 games on the Red Sox and look to extend their lead this weekend!

    Rays Blog

    Post info: By TBRays01 on September 11th, 2008
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    Wahoo, what an awesome come from behind win for the Tampa Bay Rays as they scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4. After giving up two runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Rays came back with a solo home run from Dan Johnson to tie the game, and then Dioner Navarro doubled in the go ahead and winning run. The Rays are now up 1.5 games on the Red Sox in the division.

    Starting pitcher Scott Kazmir didn’t last very long as he pitched six innings and gave up five hits and two runs. Kazmir ended up with the no decision while Dan Wheeler grabbed the win to improve his record to 4-5. Wheeler did blow the save but was lucky enough to get the win. Troy Percival pitched the ninth inning to record his 28th save of the season as he shut down the Red Sox in the ninth inning.

    The Rays and Red Sox will play once again on Wednesday night as the Rays look to take two out of three on the road against the Sox. They will then be off on Thursday before heading to New York for a weekend series with the Yankees. Let’s go get em Rays!

    Post info: By TBRays01 on September 10th, 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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