Tagged: Ben Zobrist

Tampa Bay Rays Win on Opening Day

Happy Opening Day!!!

I hope everyone went to the doctor and received prescriptions for high blood pressure and anxiety medication over the off-season because this season is expected to be the most exciting one in Tampa Bay Rays’ history. Several sports analysts predict the Rays will make it to the World Series. Now before Rays fans get too excited, there are 162 regular season games to be played.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Jose Reyes SS (left with hamstring tightness) –> Ryan Goins
  • Melky Cabrera LF
  • Jose Bautista RF
  • Edwin Encarnacion
  • Dioner Navarro DH (remember him? 2008 Rays All-Star catcher)
  • Brett Lawrie 3B
  • Colby Rasmus CF
  • Maicer Izturis 2B
  • Josh Thole C –> Erik Kratz
  • R.A. Dickey SP

 

Tampa Bay Rays

  • David DeJesus LF –> Brandon Guyer
  • Wil Myers RF
  • Ben Zobrist 2B
  • Evan Longoria 3B
  • James Loney 1B
  • Desmond Jennings CF
  • Matt Joyce DH
  • Jose Molina C
  • Yunel Escobar SS
  • David Price SP

Game Recap

David Price looked ready for the 2014 baseball season as he walked to the mound. Price had a quick 1-2-3 inning by getting Jose Reyes to fly out to center, Melky Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, and Jose Bautista to strike out. Rays leadoff hitter David DeJesus popped out, but Wil Myers wasted no time showing fans what to expect of him this season by hitting a double. After Ben Zobrist struck out, Evan Longoria singled to bring Myers home. Isn’t the Myers-Longoria threat beautiful? Price repeated his awesomeness in the second inning, quickly bringing the Rays back up to bat. Both Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are expected to be better offensively and both showed a positive sign that they were heading into that direction; Jennings doubled and Joyce walked. With two on, Jose Molina struck out, Yunel Escobar flied out to right, and DeJesus walked, bringing Myers up to bat in a bases-loaded situation. Myers being Myers, he singled to bring Jennings and Joyce home. At the end of the second inning, Rays lead 3-0.

In the third inning, Price allowed a walk to Colby Rasmus to end his 6-player retiring streak. Bautista singled, but Price was able to end the threat by getting Josh Thole to ground into a double play and Ryan Goins to ground out. The Rays added to their lead with Longoria leading off with a walk, Loney moving Longoria over by grounding out to pitcher, Longoria moving to third on a wild pitch, and scoring when Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to center. It looked as though the replay challenge was going to be used when Longoria slid into second base, but the Jays decided not to challenge it (Longoria was safe in the replays). The fourth inning was scary when Cabrera singled to center and Bautista singled to left, but Price was able to strike Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie out while getting Dioner Navarro to fly out to center.

At the bottom of the fifth inning, Zobrist led off with a walk. Longoria popped out to third (darn these infield popups), Loney walked, but then Jennings grounded out into a fielder’s choice, sending Loney back to the dugout. With two-on and two-out, Joyce doubled to right, bringing Zobrist and Jennings home. Molina flied out to center to end the inning, but the Rays now lead 6-0 over the Jays.

In the seventh inning, Loney lead off with a single and stole a base. Joyce doubled to send Loney to home plate where he was out. Molina ended the inning with a hit to shortstop (at least he hit the ball this time). Erik Kratz hits a 2-run homerun in the eighth inning. Kratz replaced pitch-hit for Thole, making his debut for his new team (so of course he hits a homerun on the first pitch against the Rays). After Price struck out Goins, Joe Maddon made the call to the bullpen and Joel Peralta was sent out. Price allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 102 pitches. Peralta retires the next two batters to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Dejesus comes out after being hit by a pitch during a pickoff at first. Brandon Guyer replaces DeJesus and waits on first as Myers approaches the plate. Myers ends up scoring both Guyer and himself due to a throwing error by pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and a throwing error by Bautista. Zobrist walks his third walk of the game, Longoria singles, and Loney hits a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist. Jennings singles to load the bases, but Molina (once again) ends the inning by grounding out. Rays now lead 9-2.

In the ninth, Brandon Gomes struck out Encarnacion, gave up a hit to Navarro, struck out Lawrie, and gets Rasmus to ground out to end the game. Rays win 9-2!

1 game down, 161 to go…

What I like:

  • Offense: Almost every Ray contributed to the game today and some runs were even scored when the base runners were in scoring positions AND there were two outs. Crazy.
  • Defense: Desmond Jennings make a spectacular catch in the first, a great start for the team since the defense wasn’t the best last year. Minus a ball that past Yunel Escobar’s glove, the defense looked what it is expected to be all the time.
  • Pitching: David Price looked amazing – he wasn’t 100% perfect, but he looked ready to lead the team to plenty of wins his final year in Tampa Bay. Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes.

What I didn’t like:

  • Evan Longoria and Wil Myers being separated. Joe Maddon probably has some explanation, but shush and put the powerhouses next to each other.
  • It’s still too early and I’m determined not to bring up the past, but certain players need to stop being an instant out (who know who I’m talking about).
  • The construction on I-275 is making the usual 30-45 minute drive to St. Petersburg to a 2-hour ordeal. For any Rays fans planning on making the trip to St. Pete this season, please leave early or expect some fun times on the Howard Franklin.

 

Game Stats

Jays haven’t won a series at the Trop since April 2007.

Replay challenge was used for the first time this season during the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates game. The play was upheld and took a long time of 2 minutes to decide it… Good-bye 10 minute yelling matches between managers and umpires.

 

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Price loses Pitching Duel to Phil Hughes

The first game of the series involved the Tampa Bay Rays scoring four runs in the 1st inning. Today, the Rays struggled against the Phil Hughes to score runs, resulting in a loss.

Tampa Bay Rays Lineup

  • Desmond Jennings CF
  • Ryan Roberts 2B
  • Ben Zobrist RF
  • Evan Longoria 3B
  • Matt Joyce LF
  • Yunel Escobar SS
  • James Loney 1B
  • Jose Molina C
  • Kelley Johnson DH
  • David Price P

New York Yankees Lineup

  • Brett Gardner CF
  • Eduardo Nunez SS
  • Robinson Cano 2B
  • Vernon Wells LF
  • Ben Francisco DH
  • Lyle Overbay 1B
  • Chris Stewart C
  • Ichiro Suzuki RF
  • Jayson Nix 3B
  • Phil Hughes

Game Recap

In the first inning, David Price struck out Brett Gardner before allowing Eduardo Nunez to single. While Robinson Cano was batting, Nunenz stole second base but is stranded there after Price strikes out Cano and gets Vernon Wells to fly out to left field. At the bottom of the 1st, Desmond Jennings walks, Ryan Roberts doubles, and then Ben Zobrist hits a sacrifice fly, allowing Jennings to score. Pitcher Phil Hughes is able to get Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce to strike out, ending the inning.

In the 4th, Nunez strikes out but is able to make it to first base due to the wild pitch. Both Robinson Cano Vernon and Wells single, allowing Nunez to score. Price is able to recover and get Ben Francisco to fly out and Lyle Overbay to hit into a double-play, ending the Yankees’ threat.

Rays took the lead in the 7th after Matt Joyce leads off with a walk and scores after a single by James Loney and Jose Molina. James Loney is called out at 3rd and Kelly Johnson strikes out, making it 2-1. Rays wouldn’t lead long because Ichiro Suzuki singles and scores when Brett Gardner grounds out. In the 9th, Price gives up a single to Cano and a call to the bullpen is made. Fernando Rodney strikes out Vernon Wells, but Cano steals second base. Rodney intentionally walks Travis Hafner and then walks Lyle Overbay, even though it looked like strike 3…. Chris Stewart pops out but Ichiro hits a single, scoring 2 runs. Evan Longoria hits a homerun in the bottom of the 9th, but it is not enough and the Yankees win 4-3.

Summary:

Pretty much a pitching match between David Price and Phil Hughes. Price looked really good, so hopefully he gets his first win on his next start.

Around the League:

  • Oakland was beating Boston 13-0 when the game went into rain delay in the 7th inning. 

Tampa Bay Rays Pitchers shutdown Texas Rangers

After a 90 minute rain-delay, the Tampa Bay Rays took on the Texas Rangers…in 39 degrees weather. After been shut out the previous game, the Rays were ready to hit…or not.

 Rays Lineup

  • Desmond Jennings CF
  • Sean Rodriguez LF
  • Evan Longoria DH
  • Ben Zobrist RF
  • Shelley Duncan 1B
  • Yunel Escobar SS
  • Ryan Roberts 3B
  • Jose Lobaton C
  • Kelley Johnson 2B
  • Matt Moore P


Rangers Lineup

  • Ian Kinsler 2B
  • Elvis Andrus SS
  • Adrian Beltre 3B
  • Nelson Cruz DH
  • David Murphy LF
  • Jeff Baker RF
  • Mitch Moreland 1B
  • Geovany Soto C
  • Craig Gentry CF
  • Derek Holland P

Game Recap: 

Desmond Jennings opened the game with a hit to centerfield – but was caught by Craig Gentry to end the hopes that the Rays would be off to a quick start. Sean Rodriquez and Evan Longoria went down easy. At the bottom of the 1st, Matt Moore got Ian Kinsler to strike out but allowed Elvis Andrus to walk – Andrus then made his way to second on a wild pitch by Moore to Adrian Beltre. Moore, knowing a threat was brewing up, ended up striking Beltre out and getting Nelson Cruz to ground out. In the 2nd, Ben Zobrist doubled and Shelley Duncan singled – Rays now had two on with no outs. After a sac-bunt by Yunel Escobar, the runners were on third and second with only one out. Though a sac-fly would have led to a run, Ryan Roberts grounds out to the pitcher (seriously!?) and Jose Lobaton lines out to shortstop – Rays once again fail to bring the runners in with their weak bats. The Rays are last in the A.L. in batting average through the first six innings – meaning the Rays start scoring runs in the last three innings. Though it is exciting to come back and win, waiting until the last inning to score runs usually results in a loss or the umpires making a bad call.

The Rays took the lead in the 3rd inning after Kelly Johnson, Sean Rodriquez, and Evan Longoria walk to load the bases. As Rays fans know, the Rays are 0-for-10 with bases loaded this year. Suprisingly, the Rays score a run when Zobrist grounds into a force out, running fast enough to beat the potential double-play. The Rays add to their lead in the 5th when Jennings doubles and makes it to third on Sean Rodriquez’s ground out. Longoria hits a sac-fly to right field, making it 2-0.

The Rangers had a threat in the 6th when Matt Moore walks Nelson Cruz after getting Adrian Beltre to ground out. Due to his high pitch count, Cesar Ramos replaces Moore. The bullpen knows if they allow two runs, the Rays may lose – no pressure! David Murphy singles and Jeff Baker walks to load the bases, but Mitch Moreland grounds into a doubleplay, ending the inning. In order to break up the doubleplay, Baker reached out his arm while sliding into Yunel Escobar – a dirty play. Marty Foster (the same umpire who blew a call against the Rays two games ago) calls Baker out, ending the inning. Jake McGee pitches a solid 7th inning, only walking Craig Gentry (a lot of walks from Rays pitchers tonight). In the 8th, Rangers had two on, one out but Zobrist makes a catch in right field and throws to catcher Jose Lobaton, who tags out the base runner hoping to score. Peralta waited to tell Zobrist “thank you!” Closer Fernando Rodney allows one base runner, but is able to get the next three batters out. Rays win 2-0.

Summary:

Matt Moore had a good outing, minus the walks and only pitching six innings. The goal of the starting pitchers is to last to the 7th inning since James Shields is no longer with the Rays – Shields was known to pitch alot of innings, resting the bullpen. The bullpen did a great job to not allow any runs, especially McGee and Rodney. Rays’ offense still doesn’t exist: only Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Desmond Jennings seem to get on base these days. Great day for Rays Pitchers!

Umps Continue to make Bad Calls Against the Rays

It was the bottom of the ninth, two outs, a runner on first, and a 3-2 count – the Tampa Bay Rays had a nine inning rally going on. Ben Zobrist was batting and Evan Longoria was up next; the two best Rays hitters were up and could make a difference in the game. Texas Ranger closer Joe Nathan threw what appeared to be a ball; catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s glove touched the ground when he caught the ball. As Zobrist began his trot toward first base, home plate umpire Marty Foster shouted “strike!” The game was over – Rays lose 5-4.

It was obvious to me and viewers everywhere that it was a ball – it was low and nearly bounced into Pierzynski’s Sports analysts, sports journalists, baseball fans, Rangers fans, and even football players took to Twitter to comment on how that was obviously a ball. Rays fans took to Twitter to express their anger about the call; how once again, the Rays lost because of bad umpiring. Now, there are those who will say “the game shouldn’t have been that close to begin with” or “mistakes happen, you try being an umpire” and I would go to bed angry and wake up in a better mood, except I’m tired of hearing those excuses. Why do umpires continue to determine the outcome of a Rays game? This is hardly the first time an umpire made a bad call against the Rays, it is becoming way too common for Rays fans to witness umpires controlling the game. Former Rays pitcher Matt Garza was switched in the pitching rotation because one home plate umpire believed Garza’s strikes were actually balls. Another umpire had trouble with B.J. Upton’s batting – the two would argue every year they met. And if the Rays are playing the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, Rays fans expect to different strike zones – one zone favored the big market team, the other ruined the Rays’ chances to win. As a low-market team with a small fan-base  Major League Baseball (MLB) probably prefers a team that will bring in television ratings in October.

There has been seven baseball games this season and already two of the games involved umpires making bad calls against the Rays when they had momentum on their side. On April 4th, the Rays had another ninth-inning rally going on when Evan Longoria was called out for passing up Ben Zobrist while they were running bases. The cameras show that all the umpires were looking toward outfield to see if the ball was a homerun, none of them were watching Longoria and Zobrist running. When coach Joe Maddon asked them to huddle together to make sure one of them saw Longoria pass Zobrist, they refused.

Now, umpires will make mistakes because they are human, so why does MLB continue to believe technology will hurt the game? Maddon could have “challenged” a call and had it reviewed – it would take a minute and all fans would be satisfied with the call.  Other sports like football, basketball, and hockey use video-replay and the games have not gone on for half-a-day. As long as MLB continues to favor umpires, the umpires will continue to be the bad guys. MLB made a rule that coaches and players cannot argue balls and strikes, meaning umpires can get away with an unique zone. If a player complains about an umpire, he is fined but some umpires were allowed to complain about certain teams making the games last more than 3 hours. Now there is a possibility that certain umpires may try to hurry games along by using the strike zone to their advantage. But as baseball fans know, baseball is played in all 9 innings – the Cincinnati Reds scored 9 runs in the 9th to beat the St. Louis Cardinals just the other day. And if an umpire is ever in trouble for making a bad call, it is not made public like coaches and players. If MLB continues to let umpires take the blame, fans will continue to believe that baseball favors certain teams over others. Its time for MLB to stop letting umpires get away with bad calls but removing some of the human element and replacing it with technology – it is 2013, not 1913.

Tampa Bay Rays lose Opening Day

Happy Opening Day!!!!

The Tampa Bay Rays started the 2013 Baseball Season against the Baltimore Orioles. After the anthem by saxophonist B.K. Jackson and Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer throwing out the first pitch (Evan Longoria catching) Cy Young Pitcher David Price took the mound. Nearly all sports journalists believe the Toronto Blue Jays will win the A.L. East with the Rays finishing second – Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will be at the bottom. I, of course, predict the Rays will be back in the playoffs IF they can remain healthy and improve their offense.

Rays Lineup:

  • Desmond Jennings CF
  • Sam Fuld RF
  • Ben Zobrist 2B
  • Evan Longoria 3B
  • Matt Joyce LF
  • Yunel Escobar SS
  • James Loney 1B
  • Kelly Johnson DH (Luke Scott is on DL)
  • David Price P

Orioles Lineup:

  • Nick Markakis RF
  • Manny Machado 3B
  • Adam Jones CF
  • Matt Wieters C
  • Chris Davis 1B
  • J.J. Hardy SS
  • Nolan Reimold LF
  • Steve Pearce DH
  • Brian Roberts 2B
  • Jason Hammel P

Game Recap

The Orioles took the lead in the 1st after a double and a homerun made is 2-0. Ben Zobrist had the first hit of the year for the Rays in the 1st inning – always a great day in Tampa when the Rays don’t give up a perfect game. In the 2nd inning, Nolan Reimold was picked off and caught stealing 2nd base by Price to Zobrist. Price ran into trouble in the 3rd inning by loading the bases with one out. After a 13-pitch outing to Matt Wieters, Chris Davis grounds into a double play, ending the inning.

After three quick innings by the Rays’ offense, Ben Zobrist hit a homerun, making it 2-1. After the rough 3rd inning, Price becomes his usual Cy Young Winning Self, since he will need to be like that if the Rays fail to hit runs again this season. In the bottom of the 6th, Kelly Johnson led-off with a walk and then scored on Desmond Jennings’ double. Sam Fuld then moved Jennings to third on a bunt and Zobrist brought him home on a sac-fly, making it 3-2 in favor of the Rays.

Jake McGee entered the 7th inning after Price allowed 2 runs in 6 innings, throwing 100 pitches. McGee allowed two singles, a double, and a homerun to make it 7-3 in favor of the Orioles. Jamey Wright replaces McGee to get the final third out to end that horrible ending. When the Rays were up to bat, Ryan Roberts (replacing Mayy Joyce) singled, but Shelly Duncan (replacing James Loney) flied out and Jose Molina struck out. In the 8th, Jennings singles then with Fuld batting, he steals 2nd base and advances to 3rd base on a throwing error by Matt Wieters. When Fuld grounds out, Jennings scores, making it 7-4 in favor of the Orioles. Rays lose 7-4.

Summary

Well, the Rays may have lost but it is only the first day. David Price was able to settle down after a couple of rough innings and McGee wasn’t the best, but he has been a very dependable pitcher the past few years so it could have just been first-day jitters. The Rays’ defense was outstanding – Longoria and Fuld both made great catches throughout the day and the rest of the team handled the ball with ease. Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings continue to be the most consistent players on the Rays since they drove in and scored the runs today. The Baltimore Orioles looked like they don’t like all the attention the Toronto Blue Jays are receiving. Opening Day Attendance: 34,078. *Sellout*

 

Mumblings Around the Baseball:

  • Evan Longoria said “the scarring that James Shields and B.J. Upton endured in the rough Devil Rays days remained a clubhouse issue, and the current team is in ‘a better mental state’ with them gone.” Eh- that was a little harsh in my opinion since Shields and Upton were HUGE parts of the Rays’ past and current success.
  • Speaking of former Rays players, James Shields gave up one homerun on Opening Day; Kansas City Royals lost 1-0 against the Chicago White Sox. B.J. Upton went 0-4 for the Atlanta Braves (Braves won 7-5 over Philadelphia Phillies) and Carlos Pena went 1-4, scoring a run for the Houston Astros (Astros beat Texas Rangers 8-2).
  • One of the Rays first great pitcher, Scott Kazmir, will be pitching for the Cleveland Indians against the Rays on Saturday, April 6. Kazmir strained his ab during workout, may go on DL and therefore miss Saturday’s game.

Spring Training Game 1: Rays v. Red Sox

While half of the team was in Port Charlotte playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the other half was battling the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers. The lineup:

  • Ben Zobrist (RF)
  • Desmond Jennings (CF)
  • Matt Joyce (LF)
  • Jack Cust (DH)
  • Ryan Roberts (2B)
  • Sean Rodriquez (3B)
  • Shelley Duncan (1B)
  • Jose Lobaton (C)
  • Hak-Ju Lee (SS)
  • Alex Colome (P)

Though it is only Spring Training, the Red Sox are the Ray’s #1 Rival so it is always a good game between the two, especially when the Rays win. The Rays scored the first run against John Lackey (who I am told did not look good). Ben Zobrist walked, Desmond Jennings singles, Matt Joyce was hit by pitch, and Ryan Roberts hit a sac-fly to take the lead. In the 3rd, Jennings doubled, stole third base, and scored due to a throwing error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Rays Pitchers were Alex Colome  (1 IP), Brandon Gomes (1 IP), Felipe Rivero (1 IP), Josh Lueke (2 IP), Marquis Fleming (2 IP), and Matt Buschmann (2 IP). Fleming gave up a homerun, leading to the Red Sox tying the game. Fleming also hit Daniel Nava – two hit batters in a game between the Rays and the Red Sox is always good entertainment. With Shawn O’Malley on 2nd, Leslie Anderson homers to bring the game to 4-2. Buschmann would give up a run in the 9th, but holds onto the win to earn a save. Rays beat Red Sox 4-3.

Desmond Jennings was the most impressive player of the day, scoring a run all by himself. Also happy to see a Red Sox player get hit after Joyce was hit by a ball. The hero of the game, Leslie Anderson, is a left-handed first baseman/outfielder from Cuba.

Who to Follow on Twitter: Tampa Bay Rays Edition

I mainly use Twitter for the latest sports news, especially Tampa Bay Rays baseball news. Here are the players/coaches to follow on Twitter.

@RaysBaseball Official Twitter of the Tampa Bay Rays

@SunSportsFOXFL Fox Sports Florida Television Station: Covers Florida Teams

Players/Coaches

@RaysJoeMaddon Rays Coach Joe Maddon

@jamesloney_7 First Baseman James Loney

@TheZobrists Second baseman Ben Zobrist (shares account with his wife)

@Evan3Longoria Third baseman Evan Longoria

@d_jennings8 Center Fielder Desmond Jennings

@sweetswingin20 Right Fielder Matt Joyce

@DAVIDprice14 Cy Young Pitcher David Price

@JHell58 Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson

@mattymoe55 Pitcher Matt Moore

@Acobb53 Pitcher Alex Cobb

@Joeycatch8 Catcher Jose Molina

@SamFuld5 Outfielder Sam Fuld

@Alex21Torres Pitcher Alex Torres

@ChrisArcher42 Pitcher Chris Archer

@wilmyers Outfielder Wil Myers

@SVogt1229 Utility Player Stephen Vogt

@SeanJRodriguez1 Utility Player Sean Rodriguez

@robinson28ch Catcher Robinson Chirinos

@rroberts19 Ryan Roberts Utility Player

@ChrisGimenez5 Catcher Chris Gimenez

@JLobaton21 Catcher Jose Lobaton

@BrandonGuyer Outfielder Brandon Guyer

@Josh_Lueke Pitcher Josh Lueke

Twitter of Past Rays:

 Centerfielder BJ Upton 

@reidbrignac Shortstop Reid Brignac

@ElliotJohnson9 Utility Player Elliot Johnson

@Gdeuceswild Pitcher Matt Garza

@JKeppinger Third Baseman Jeff Keppinger

@AdamRussell36 Pitcher Adam Russell

@ShopHouse10 Kelly Shoppach