So, I thought the Rays lineup was interesting, surprised to see Sean Rodriguez batting second. The lefties were out of the game – disappointed at that because I believe lefties can hit no matter if the pitcher is a lefty or a righty. I’m also looking forward to the Rays’ offense since Jeremy Hellickson’s average run support was 3.86, the 3rd worst in the league in 2012.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Sean Rodriguez LF
- Ben Zobrist RF
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Shelley Duncan DH
- Yunel Escobar SS
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Jose Lobaton C
- Kelley Johnson 1B
- Jeremy Hellickson P
- Nate McLouth LF
- Manny Machado 3B
- Nick Markakis RF
- Adam Jones CF
- Chris Davis 1B
- Matt Wieters C
- J.J. Hardy SS
- Nolan Reimold DH
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Wei-Yin Chen P
The Orioles quickly took a lead in the top of the 1st after Chris Davis hit a 3-HR – after Hellickson was able to get the first two batters out. Desmond Jennings led off with a single, but Sean Rodriguez hit into a double play. In the 2nd, Evan Longoria singled and then Shelley Duncan hit into a double play. In the 3rd, Jose Lobaton singled and then Jennings hit into a double play – yes, a lot of double plays today. Meanwhile, Hellickson had been pitching well. Up to this point, all 11 Orioles runs this series came with 2 outs. The Orioles extended their lead in the 6th when Davis singled, driving in Manny Machado. Chris Davis drove in 4 RBIs at this moment.
Rays answered back when Jennings doubled and Ben Zobrist drove him in. These two did the most damage in Game 1 and as usual, are the most dependable players on the game. After a pitching change by the Orioles, Longoria singled and then Shelley Duncan hit a homerun, tying the game. Ducan was supposed to be in the minors but was called up when Luke Scott started the season on the DL. Sadly, the game would not remain tied for long because Hellickson walked Nolan Reimold, Brian Roberts singled, and then Nate McClouth singled to drive in the run. Jose Lobaton almost tagged him out. Kyle Farnsworth replaced Hellickson and got Machago to ground into a double play, ending the threat. Orioles now lead 5-4.
In the 7th, Matt Joyce singled on a bunt (beautiful bunt) and then Kelly Johnson singled; with Jennings battering, a wild pitch by Pedro Strop allowed Joyce to score. James Loney replaces Rodriguez and hits a double, making it 6-6, and then Zobrist singled, driving in Loney to make it 7-5. Now, its up to the bullpen to win the game.
In the 8th, Joel Peralta gets two quick outs before allowing a double to Davis (I hate this guy) and then Matt Wieters singles, making it 7-6. Peralta strikes out J. Hardy. After 3 quick outs for the Rays in the 8th, its Fernando Rodney’s job to end the game. Rodney walks Nolan Reimold – though it should have been strike 3. Brian Roberts doubles, tying the game. Rodney’s first blown save of the year in 2012 was May 26 against Boston Red Sox, he blew only 2 saves last year, and it’s the 1st run he allowed since August 18, a string of 19 scoreless innings. Rodney gets the next two outs, giving the Rays batters one more time to win the game before going into extra innings. Matt Joyce steps up to the bat and swings, hitting a HIGH homerun. This was his first walk-off career. Rays win 8-7.
What a great game between the Orioles and Rays. Though pitching wasn’t the best, it wasn’t too bad. Great to see Kyle Farnsworth end a threatening inning and there was no way Rodney could be better than last year, so at least he got his blown save out of the way now and not later on. I really wish coach Joe Maddon would let the lefties play, since Loney and Joyce helped win the game when they were allowed to play. Sorry, I just think lefties can play no matter who the pitcher is. Random fact: Rays only won 2 games in 2012 when they allowed 7+ runs.
Around the League:
- Texas Rangers Yu Darvish was one out away from completing a perfect game against the Houston Astros.
- New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda exits in the 2nd inning after a ball hit his hand. Red Sox have been killing the bullpen throughout the game.
- Former Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir will not be making his pitching debut against the Rays on Saturday.
- Tampa Bay Rays lose Opening Day (mlblogstbchick2011.wordpress.com)
- Cancel the Reunion – Scott Kazmir is not pitching Saturday (mlblogstbchick2011.wordpress.com)
Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney returned to the Rays’ clubhouse on Thursday, with a smile and a World Baseball Classic Championship Medal. Rodney helped lead the Dominican Republic to the Championship, appearing in 8 games and pitching 7 1/3 scoreless innings, only giving up one hit. And when the game was over, he shot an imaginary arrow, a sign of victory that Rays fans are used to seeing. Besides being a dependable player to the team, Rodney brought the Dominican Republic team plenty of laughs. He told them about a magical plantain flown in from the Dominican Republic (actually given to him from a fan in exchange for signing a baseball) that brought the team luck. Rodney’s magical plantain worked, as the Dominican Republic won 3-0 against Puerto Rico on Tuesday, March 19th.
Though it is great seeing Rodney’s early 2013 success, Rays’ coaches are worried that Rodney may suffer from a residual impact later in the season. Coach Joe Maddon is talking about using Rodney in 2 straight games, instead of 3 straight games. But Rodney isn’t worried, “I’m ready to go right now for the season. I feel good. .. I feel ready to go. My arm feels good, body, mentally, physically, everything’s good. … I don’t feel any problems, I feel great.” Rodney will pitch March 27th and March 30 before the season starts in April.
The Tampa Bay Rays were split today; one half of the team played the Pittsburgh Pirates while the other half played the Boston Red Sox. The lineup against the Pirates was:
- Sam Fuld (CF)
- Yunel Escobar (SS)
- Kelly Johnson (2B)
- Jose Molina (C)
- Luke Scott (DH)
- James Loney (1B)
- Wil Myers (RF)
- Chris Gimenez (3B)
- Rich Thompson (LF)
- Roberto Hernandez (P)
What many of Rays fans were looking forward to was the debut of one of baseball’s top prospects: Wil Myers. Though Myers will probably start the season off in the Minor League, everyone was excited to see a player known for hitting. Myers grounded out and walked, good signs since he is willing to put the ball into play (yay to no more strikeouts) and walked, an important part of Rays baseball. Myers admits to initially being nervous, “New jersey on a new team, a new field, but I was excited to be out there and I thought it went well.”
The first pitchers of the game were impressive: Roberto Hernandez retired three batters with 12 pitches, Jeff Niemann retired three with 11 pitches, and Fernando Rodney retiring three batters with ten pitches (notice the 12-11-10?). Rodney even did a “spring training” arrow. The last rotation spot will be either Hernandez and Niemann.
The Pirates scored first in the 4th inning off of right-handed pitcher J.D. Martin. Martin has a Minor League career 72-49 record with a 3.78 ERA. Martin pitched two innings. The next pitcher Mike Montgomery (acquired through the trade with Kansas City Royals) gave up two runs to the Pirates. Rays finally scored two runs in the 8th inning when Nick Weglarz walked (on two outs) followed by Rich Thompson’s single. After a balk and a ground-rule double by Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays score two runs.
The Rays ended up losing 3-2 against the Pirates. Besides the substitutes, the other Rays to get a hit in the game were: Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. Due to the World Classic Baseball, Spring Training has started earlier, meaning coach Joe Maddon’s goal is to not overuse the players before the season starts. Attendance was only 4,436, probably.
After an ugly road series that involved losses to the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays are heading back to Tampa with a sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays. In the 1st inning, Matt Joyce reached first on a bunt single and error by pitcher Henderson Alvarez; a relief to know that a no-hitter would not be an issue tonight. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rays’ defense committed its first error of the game when Brett Lawre stole second. The ball thrown by Jose Molina did not reach Elliot Johnson in time, resulting in the ball landing in the centerfield and Lawre reaching third base. The error was charged to Molina. Luckily, David Price was able to get the next two batters out. In the 3rd inning, Ben Zobrist doubled and tried to score on BJ Upton’s single, but was thrown out at home by Rajai Davis. It was a beautiful throw.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Davis reached on an infield single, but managed to make his way to second due to a throwing error by Elliot Johnson. The Rays’ defense was starting to look like it had been this previous road trip: crappy. Davis then stole third and scored on Jose Bautista’s single. The next batter, Edwin Encarnacion, then hit a 2-run homer, making the score 3-0 in favor of the Jays.
In the bottom of the third, Davis hit an infield single that Elliot Johnson. Davis then stole third and Jose Bautista drives him. Edwin Encarnacion then hits a homerun; Jays now winning 3-0. The Rays scored a run in the 5th inning when Will Rhymes singled and then scored when Zobrist doubled. In the 7th inning, Sean Rodriquez hit a leadoff homerun to make it 2-3. Rhymes reached first on a single, as did Molina when Yunel Escobar committed an error. Elliot Johnson singled, allowing Rhymes to score when Davis committed an error. Johnson is currently on a 7-game hitting streak. Pitcher Alvarez (who just turned 22) threw a wild pitch, allowing the base runners to move to the next base. Zobrist once again reached base, loading the bases. BJ Upton hit into a double play, thus only Molina scored. Rays now led 4-3.
In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Lawre was up to bat. After several balls thrown by Fernando Rodney, Lawre attempted to walk to first but was called back due to strike two. A few seconds later, Lawre tried walking again, but was called out on strike three. (In his defense, he should of walked, those looked like balls to me and they were out of the strike zone on Fox Tracks). Lawre was upset and threw his helmet down on the ground; the helmet bounced and hit the homeplate umpire – Lawre will be fined for that. Lawre and Jays’ manager John Farrell were later ejected after arguing with the umpires. Rays won the game 4-3.
What I Liked:
- David Price: Price only had one bad inning (which included pitching around an error), but he kept his cool after giving up a homerun and managed to pitch seven innings.
- Bullpen: Peralta hasn’t been too sharp lately, but today he managed to retire all three batters in the 8th inning. He did a great job getting the middle of the lineup out. Fernando Rodney once again retired all three batters (with some help from the ump). He now has 11 saves on the season.
- Rays Batters: Rays took advantage of the Jays’ four errors and scored four runs. Always a good sign when they score at least four runs, though the average number of runs scored in the AL East is five.
What I Didn’t like:
- There were two errors committed by the Rays, one became a run and made the inning last too long. Luckily, the Jays committed four errors, allowing the Rays to win.
- Red Sox played an early game today, meaning that they will get to Tampa and be able to sleep before the Rays do.
After losing 5-4 to the Minnesota Twins in Friday’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays were once again looking to James Shields to have a strong outing. The first threat of the game came from the Rays in the 2nd inning when B.J. Upton hit a single followed by Jose Molina getting hit by a pitch but nothing came out of it. In the 4th, the Twins had their first threat after Joe Mauer singled and stole second (as Rays’ broadcaster Brian Anderson said, Molina was being lazy with that throw). Mauer would have at least made it to 3rd base but Upton robbed Justin Morneau out of a hit with an amazing catch (glad he’s back). In the 5th, Molina doubled then made it to 3rd base after Sean Rodriquez sacrificed to third baseman but for some reason Manager Joe Maddon had Desmond Jennings bunt. I was surprised by this call due to the fact that Molina is a slow runner and Jennings has been having pretty good at-bats lately. The call ended up not working after the bunt landed in Morneau’s glove, thus ending the inning.
The game started getting interesting in the top of the 6th inning when Shields allowed a single, walk, and he hit a pitcher to load the bases. Luckily, Ryan Doumit lined out to Evan Longoria, who by the way made an impressive catch. When the Rays were up, Ben Zobrist struck out but Carlos Pena walked, Longoria singled, and Luke Scott hit a sac-fly. The Twins intentionally walked Matt Joyce to load the bases with Upton coming to the plate. Upton singled to center, scoring Pena and Longoria. In the same play, Denard Span made an error, slowing Joyce to score and Upton to reach 3rd base. The Rays now led 3-0. The next time the Rays were up, Alex Burnett was pitching for the Twins. Zobrist and Jennings both reach base safely after Jamey Carroll commited an error. Pena was then hit by a pitch, allowing Longoria to come to the plate with bases loaded and one out. Longoria reaches the 1st base due to an error by Danny Valencia; the Rays now led 4-0.
Now Shields has not had any trouble since the 6th inning with the Twins, but it was surprising to see him enter the 9th inning after having 111 pitches. After giving up a single and double, Fernando Rodney was called in to get the outs. Though the Twins ended up scoring 1 run, the Rays still won 4-1.
Players of the Game:
- James Shields: Shields once again had an outstanding performance. Shields went deep, thus allowing the bullpen to rest (in case they are needed in tomorrow’s game). Shields has worked 8+ innings in 18 of his last 37 starts, which is the most in MLB in that span.
- B.J. Upton: Upton is back in his 2nd game with the Rays this season and he showed why the fans have been missing him. He made a great catch in the 4th inning, possibly preventing a threat by the Twins. Upton’s biggest moment came when he singled in the 6th inning, scoring 2 RBIs (though 3 runners scored, the last one was due to an error). Upton had 2 singles, 1 walk, and 2 RBIs today. Before the game, he visited All Children’s Hospital to visit a boy name Dom. Though he did not hit a homerun in the game, Upton “came up with a pretty big hit” possibly winning the game for the Rays. I’m sure Dom is really proud of Upton today.
What I Liked:
- Everything: The starting pitcher was great, the relief pitcher was outstanding, the defense was amazing, the hitting was wonderful, and the crowd was large (over 31,000 braved the thunderstorm to support the Rays).
What I Didn’t Like:
- Catching: Jose Molina allowed a passed ball in the 2nd inning, allowing Josh Willingham to reach 3rd base (luckily no one scored). Also, Molina had an awful throw when he attempted to catch a runner stealing second. As Anderson said, he believed Molina was “being lazy.” I’ve seen catch Molina catch Carl Crawford stealing twice in one game so I know he is defensive. Hoping to see improvement as the year goes on.
Boston Red Sox fans whipped out their brooms Monday morning, anticipating a 4-game sweep over the Tampa Bay Rays. Too their dismay, James Shields showed up, ready to “stop the bleeding.” Shields pitched 81/3 innings in the Rays’ 1-0 victory over the Red Sox. The only concern about Shields was in the 1st inning when it took him 18 pitches to get out of the inning. In the 2nd inning, Ben Zobrist was hit and Jeff Keppinger walked; with 2 outs and 2 on Jose Molina came up to bat. Sadly, Molina was robbed by a great catch by Ryan Sweeney in right field. In the 2nd inning, the Red Sox had a man on third but Shields was able to play defense and help Carlos Pena get Nick Punto out.
In the 3rd inning, the Rays had another chance to take the lead. After Sean Rodriquez struck out, Desmond Jennings walked then stole second. Pena and Evan Longoria were up next but both ended up striking out. In the 4th inning, Ben Zobrist walked then made it to second on Matt Joyce’s single, but Keppinger hit into a double play, once again ending a Rays’ threat. Meanwhile, Shields continued to keep the Red Sox at bay, preventing the Red Sox from getting men on base.
In the 7th, the Rays scored the only run in the game; what is impressive was that it was on two outs. Rodriquez walked, Jennings singled, and Pena walked on four pitches. It was looking as though Daniel Bard was falling apart. But to the surprise of many, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine kept Bard in. In Valentine’s defense, Longoria had chased some balls and struck out twice. This time though, Longoria learned from his mistake and walked to first, scoring Rodriquez. Valentine was booed when he went back to the dugout after lifting Bard for Justin Thomas. Valentine later admitted it was a poor decision to leave Bard in.
Red Sox were ready to answer back in the 7th after Cody Ross singled on one out, but Sweeney struck out and Molina caught Ross stealing second. It was a beautiful sight, seeing Molina and Reid Brignac teaming up to catch a runner. The Rays had another chance to add more runs in the 9th inning, but failed. Luckily, the one run was all the pitching staff would need. In the 9th, Shields was able to get Mike Aviles to ground out but he walked Dustin Pedroia. Manager Joe Maddon made the call to the bullpen, allowing Fernando Rodney to enter the game for possibly his 4th save this year. Rodney was able to get Adrian Gonzalez to ground out and then he intentionally walked David Ortiz. Meanwhile, the Red Sox fans sang “Rod-ney” over and over – I didn’t get it. The hopes of the Red Sox winning the game all came down upon batter Cody Ross. Ross, after being called out on strike three, slammed his helmet on the ground and argued with home-plate umpire Larry Vanover. Aww, poor Red Sox, something didn’t go their way. That had to be the first ball-called-strike I have ever seen in favor of the Rays. With this Rays victory, Joe Maddon received his 500th win as a manager with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Player of the Game: James Shields. Shields was on his A-game for the second start in a row. He kept his cool throughout the game, dodged several broken bats, and even played defense in the infield. Shields looked confidant and made it look easy to pitch to the Red Sox. Before today’s game, Shields was 1-9 at Fenway Park, but the Rays usually scored 2.6 runs in his starts there. Today, he was able to win the game with only 1 run. It’s a great sign seeing the starting pitcher pitch like an ace and hopefully the rest of the rotation will follow his example.
What I Like:
- Pitching: James Shields and Fernando Rodney both pitched an amazing game. So far this year, the pitching has not been too special, especially since the pitchers had walked an American League high of 42 walks and had allowed a MLB high 57 runs. Before today’s game, the Rays’ pitchers had an ERA of 6.75, the highest it has been since April 2007. The Rays have one, if not the best, starting rotations in baseball so it was important for them to get back on track. Shields pitched 81/3 innings and dispersed 4 hits while Rodney has been 4-for-4 so far. .
- Stolen Bases: Desmond Jennings stole a base in the beginning of the game; the Rays had gone 7 games with a stolen base. Rays are known for their baserunning, so hopefully once B.J. Upton returns; there will be more stolen bases.
- Catching Runners: In the 7th inning, catcher Jose Molina threw the ball to Reid Brignac who tagged the Red Sox baserunner out. For the last couple of years, it was known that the Rays could steal bases, but had trouble catching base runners. It had been 123 games since Rays’ last strikeout-caught stealing double play. It was one May 24th, 2011 against Detroit; it was between pitcher Wade Davis and catcher John Jaso.
What I Didn’t Like:
- RISP: The Rays have been hitting, but they do not seem to hit when there are baserunners. In fact, they bat around .126 when there are baserunners. Today (around the 6th inning) the Rays were in a 6-for-47 (.128) slump with RISP going back to the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game against Detroit. There were 11 runners stranded today; if the Red Sox had scored 2 runs, they would of won the game and each of these stranded runners would have come back to haunt the Rays. Today the Rays were 0-7 for RISP. This was the 16th 1-0 win in Rays’ history. I am really happy they won, but the starting pitchers (especially Shields) needs more run support.
- The Rays are 3-0 when playing the Red Sox on Patriot’s Day.
- Republican President Nominee Mitt Romney and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were both in attendance in the game. I don’t care for either, so it was an added bonus to have both men watch their baseball team lose to the Rays.
- Before Mondays game, the Rays were under .500 for the first time since last April.
- Ben Zobrist has played 246 career starts in outfield without an error, most of any active MLB player at the moment.
- Before today’s game, Rays were being outscored 31-11 by the Red Sox.
- Evan Longoria is excited to play a night game; after playing 8 straight day games. The Rays went 3-5.
- Alex Cobb was sent back down while Brandon Gomes call up.
The game has just started and already the Red Sox have taken the lead (3-0). Since it is only the 2nd inning, I am nervous to see what is going to happen in the 8th inning. This is Matt Moore’s third career start for the Rays and he is not showing his best stuff out there. Moore had no trouble in the 1st inning but in the 2nd he allowed Kevin Youkilis to single, David Ortiz to double, and Cody Ross to hit a 3-run homer. The Rays attempted to answer back in the 3rd, but luck was not on their side. After Matt Joyce singled, Desmond Jennings hit a ground-rule double because the baseball skipped over the back wall. If the ball had stayed in, Joyce would have scored a run. Instead, Joyce was stuck on third. Power hitters Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena failed to hit a sac-fly, stranding the two players in scoring position (a common pattern in this game).
In the 4th inning, Jeff Keppinger hit a ball (that barely stayed foul) that hoped the wall, making it another ground ruled double. So the Rays have the leadoff man on – can anyone guess what happens next? If you guessed that they left him stranded, you are actually wrong. What actually happened was after the next two Rays batters got out, Sean Rodriquez got a hit; but Keppinger misread the ball and got stuck between third and home, being tagged for the out. The Game got interesting, for the Red Sox, in the 4th inning after Ortiz singled, Ross walked, and Kelly Shoppach doubled. Luckily, even though Longoria dropped the ball, he recovered and threw the ball to Chris Gimenez (catcher called up yesterday), who tagged Ross out at home. The score was now 4-0.
In the top of the 5th, Gimenez singled as did Desmond Jennings. Pena looked as though he hit a homerun, but it went right over the foul pole. He came through, hitting a double and scoring 2 runs. Longoria hit a ground rule double, scoring Pena. The score was now 4-3, in favor of the Red Sox. Moore quickly got rid of the next 3 Red Sox batters, bringing the Rays back to the plate with momentum on their side. Luke Scott, who badmouthed Fenway earlier this week, hit a homerun, tying the game and kicking the Boston pitcher Felix Doubront out of the game. Sean Rodriquez and Matt Joyce reached base, but Gimenez attempted to bunt. It was the ugliest bunting attempt ever; he looked awkward and was trying to bunt balls that were outside the strike zone. I have no idea why he was being told to bunt and I believe it helped kill the Rays’ momentum. Jennings and Pena were the next two outs, stranding the two runners on base. This would come back to haunt the Rays after Moore walked Youkils and allowed Ortiz to double; Red Sox now led 5-4. (Why anyone would throw a fast-ball down the middle to a power hitter is beyond me).
Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach were intentionally walked. At this moment, a little of me died inside at the thought that Shoppach is actually a threat to the Rays. Moore survived the inning after almost walking a run in, but now the Rays had to hurry and score some runs if they wanted to split the series. In the 7th Mike Aviles hit a homerun, making the score 6-4. Jose Peralta was then put into the game and managed to get Youkilis and Ortiz out. This is a good sign since Peralta hasn’t looked too hot this year due to not playing winter ball during the offseason. In the 8th, Jose Molina and Gimenez both singled, but Jennings and Pena failed to bring them in. Fernando Rodney pitched the 8th, getting three quick outs on 6 pitches. The Rays lost 6-4.
Player of the Game:
- Power Hitters: Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, and Luke Scott all had RBIs today. Its great to see that Pena is continuing his hot start, Longoria is hitting again at Fenway, and that Scott is acting like a DH and hitting homeruns. They were the only players to have RBIs.
- Bullpen: Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney did their job and got the last five batters out quickly. After a bullpen that has recently allowed 28 runs in 20 innings, this was an amazing feat.
What I like:
- Hitting: Rays were actually hitting today; every player but Ben Zobrist had a hit today. Desmond Jennings, Sean Rodriquez, and Chris Gimenez each had two hits. There was a total of 13 hits today.
- Bullpen: Bullpen did not allow 8 runs in the 8th; in fact, there was not even a threat in the 8th thanks to Fernando Rodney.
What I didn’t like:
- Matt Moore: This is only Moore’s third career start and he did last to the 7th inning, but he also allowed 6 runs. He kept throwing fast balls right down the middle to the power hitters and seemed to lack variety in his pitches. Moore has ALOT of potential, but so far this year I have not seen the Moore from 2011.
- Hitting: Though the Rays actually hit the ball today, they had 13 hits and only 4 runs. They left 10 on base. It is the same old story; the Rays failed GTMI: Get The Man In.
- I still can’t believe the Rays lost a series to the Red Sox…