After last night’s game that ended on a controversial call, Tampa Bay Rays fans expected the Rays coming in tonight’s game full of anger and ready to make the Texas Rangers suffer. Instead, the Rays only had one run and four hits throughout the game. They lose to the Texas Rangers 6-1. This time, the Rays had no one but themselves to blame for the loss.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Matt Joyce RF
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- James Loney 1B
- Shelley Duncan DH
- Yunel Escobar SS
- Jose Molina C
- Kelley Johnson LF
- Roberto Hernandez P
- Ian Kinsler 2B
- Elvis Andrus SS
- Lance Berkman DH
- Adrian Beltre 3B
- David Murphy LF
- Nelson Cruz
- A.J. Pierzynski C
- Mitch Moreland 1B
- Leonys Martin CF
- Nick Tepesch P
Texas Rangers right-handed, 24-year-old pitcher Nick Tepesch made his major league debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. He quickly got the first three Rays batters out. When the Rangers were up to bat, Rays pitcher Roberto Hernandez hit Ian Kinsler on the first pitch. It was probably just bad command because Hernandez hits Nelson Cruz later on in the game. Kinsler made his way to third base but failed to reach home after Adrian Beltre grounded out to Yunel Escobar. In the 2nd inning, Evan Longoria leads off with a walk and makes it to second after James Loney and Shelley Duncan ground out, but Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina walk to load the bases. At this point, the Rays are 0-for-9 (with 2 walks) in bases loaded situations this year. Pitcher Tepesch manages to strike Kelly Johnson out, making it 0-for-10 for the Rays in bases loaded situations.
The Rays take the lead in the 3rd after Desmond Jennings doubles and makes his way home after Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist both ground out. The lead doesn’t last long after Leonys Martin walks and Ian Kinsler singles. With two outs, Lance Berkman singles to center field, allowing Martin and Kinsler to score. At this moment, 26 of 40 (65%) runs against Rays scoring w/2 out this season. Last year, it was 41%, the third lowest in the American League.
In the 4th, James Loney singles but the Rays fail to move him further than first base. Hernandez once again hits a batter, Nelson Cruz, but is able to get the next two batters out. At the bottom of the 5th, the Rangers score two runs thanks to Martin, Elvis Andrus, Berkman, and Beltre. Rangers now lead 4-1. The Rangers extended their lead in the 7th to 5-1 after Martin singles and makes it home on Kinsler’s single and Andrus’ ground out. Jake McGee replaces Hernandez, but an error by Loney allows Craig Gentry to score. Rangers lead 6-1. The Rays had a threat in the 8th inning with runners at 3rd and 2nd, but Sean Rodriquez pops out and Zobrist grounds out to the pitcher to end the threat.
I will not question the pitching, the bull pen, or the defense because baseball season has only been here for one week; but, I will question the Rays’ offense. Rays are known for having a bad offense and the goal of the 2013 was to have hitters to support the pitching staff. The Rays only managed to score one run against a young pitcher making his pitching debut – this pitcher barely made the Rangers’ roster. Rays can take down CY Young winners, but not rookie pitchers. At the moment, Zobrist and Longoria are the only Rays batting over .250. Desmond Jennings and James Loney show potential, but Matt Joyce and Yunel Escobar have had weak at-bats this season. The Rays continue to show that they either score numerous runs when everyone can hit, or no runs when only a few players hit. This puts more pressure on the pitchers because they know that if they give up a run, that could be the game.
Other Rays News
- Pitcher Jeff Niemann will have right shoulder surgery tomorrow – it will take 9-12 months to recover. The season is over for him.
- Coach Joe Maddon signed the lineup card for Joe Nathan’s 300th career save and gave it to him. Maddon wrote “Congrats. Outstanding career. Keep it going!”
- Matt Joyce may have injured his neck attempting to make a leaping catch in right field.
- Luke Scott took batting practice today and ran in the outfield while being watched by trainers.
- Rays have scored 3 or less runs four games so far this year – that is 50% of games.
Around the League
- New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 14-1 and the Toronto Blue Jays lost 7-3 to the Detroit Tigers.
- Angels Pitcher Jered Weaver was placed on the DL for his fractured left elbow. He will be out at least for a month.
- Phillies Pitcher Roy Halladay has given up 12 runs in 7 innings this year.
After a rainy day, the sun returned to Florida in time for the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game. I was born in Bradenton and my parents are from Pittsburgh so I have plenty of happy memories at McKechnie Field (had class today or else I would have gone to the game).
- Ben Zobrist (2B)
- Desmond Jennings (CF)
- Matt Joyce (RF)
- Yunel Escobar (SS)
- Luke Scott (DH)
- Kelly Johnson (LF)
- Jose Molina (C)
- James Loney (1B)
- Sean Rodriguez (3B)
- Jeff Niemann (P)
- Starling Marte (LF)
- Neil Walker (2B)
- Andrew McCutchen (CF)
- Pedro Alvarez (3B)
- Garrett Jones (1B)
- Gaby Sanchez (DH)
- Brad Hawpe (RF)
- Michael McKenry (C)
- Clint Narmes (SS)
- A.J. Burnett (P)
The game started off when Ben Zobrist reached 1st base on an error, but was picked off by A.J. Burnett. Pitcher Jeff Niemann and three quick outs and was done for the day. With one out in the 2nd, Luke Scott singled, followed by singles from Kelly Johnson and Jose Molina. Scott scores due to a fielding error by right fielder Brad Hawpe. James Loney grounded out but Johnson managed to score (productive outs, much better than strike outs). Sean Rodriquez reaches on a throwing error, leading to Molina scoring. With Zobrist batting, Burnett throws a wild pitch, allowing Rodriquez to score. The Rays now lead 4-0 due to singles and errors committed by the Pirates. The Pirates committed a total of 4 errors as opposed to the Rays 1 error.
Kelly Johnson made his first start in left field since September 2005. Johnson was hit on the right arm by a pitch in the 3rd inning and was replaced by Leslie Anderson. Johnson appears to be ok; he is expected to be an utility player capable of playing infield and outfield.
Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson allowed a double and a single in the 2nd inning, but strikes out the next two batters to prevent any damage. Hellickson comes out to start the third but after 2 outs and 32 pitches, Joe Maddon comes to hill and replaces him with Juan Sandoval . Hellickson’s stats: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 32 Pitches, and 22 Strikes. The game ended up being a blowout due to the Rays scoring 6 runs before the 6th inning. The final score was 8-2.
- Rays play the Detroit Tigers in Port Charlotte on Thursday, February 28. Roberto Hernandez will be the starting pitcher, followed by Matt Moore.
- Coach Joe Maddon says health will play a factor in who will be in the fifth spot of the starting rotation. Maddon also says the first cuts will be soon.
- Ben Zobrist will be leaving Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. He will be playing Thursday and Saturday with the Rays.
- Evan Longoria will be playing every other day.
- There is an animated movie about a boy with cancer and his love of the New York Yankees (sorry, almost threw up there). Steroid user Alex Rodriquez will be in the movie, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Yogi Bera (no word on Derek Jeter, but CC Sabathia is in it). Its great having children look up to a man who cheated on his wife with strippers and used steroids throughout his career to make money. Seriously, putting Gehrig and A-Roid in the same sentence is insulting let alone a movie about the famous Yankees.
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.
The A.L. East isn’t boasting impressive win numbers from any of its five members like the other divisions, but that is because all the A.L. East teams have been playing each other; every single team is a threat. In a division that usually only saw action from the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees for numerous years, it is exciting to see that every team is now a threat. The Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Toronto Blue Jays are also viewing the A.L. East Title this year.
Today the Rays headed up North to do battle with the power-hitting Jays. It was already in the Jays’ favor since lefty Ricky Romero was pitching (and we know how well the Rays hit off of left-handed pitchers).The game didn’t start out well when Carlos Pena singled, but got caught stretching at second; not sure why he wanted to test Jose Bautista’s arm. Bautista quickly demonstrated his power by hitting a towering homerun a few minutes later in the bottom of the 1st inning.
In the 3rd inning, J.P. Arencibia was safe at first on an error by Evan Longoria – no seriously, Longoria made an error. In Longoria’s defense, it was a hard hit ball and Arencibia would have probably been safe on first anyways; but then the game got weird. Yunel Escobar hit into what should have been a double play, but Longoria mishandled the ball so all players were safe. Yes, you read that correctly; Longoria made two back-to-back errors. The next batter, Kelly Johnson, hit into a fielder’s choice, making the first out (and what should have been the final out). To the horror of everyone, Bautista was up at bat and hit a sac fly, scoring Arencibia. Adam Lind, another power hitter, showed why he should also be feared by hitting a 2-run homer. The Jays now led 4-0; 3 runs were unearned.
Now the Rays’ offense wasn’t doing much; there were a few walks and hits, but no threats. In my opinion, Ricky Romero is a good pitcher BUT he was not throwing 100 fast ball strikes. In fact, many Rays were swinging at balls. The Rays finally scored a run in the 6th after Reid Brignac singled, scoring Matt Joyce and then Chris Gimenez singled, scoring Sean Rodriquez. Now the inning turned sour after Desmond Jennings bunted, getting out at first base. Jennings had a good weekend so I was surprised to see him bunt after Romero showed signs of falling apart. It was probably to prevent a double-play, but Jennings is quick enough to prevent double-play balls so not sure why he had to bunt there. Carlos Pena ended the inning by striking out. The Rays should have scored more runs in that inning since who knows when the Rays would have a chance like that to score numerous runs. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jeff Niemann walked Bautista, causing Joe Maddon to make a call to the bullpen. J.P. Howell pitched, but after throwing a wild pitch and walking the batter, Brandon Gomes was called in to get the job done. Gomes got the Edwin Encarnacion out, but Eric Thames reached first and Bautista scored due to a throwing error by Longoria. Longoria made 3 errors tonight, which led to 4 runs scored by the Jays.
In the 7th inning, Matt Joyce hit a homerun, but that would be it for the Rays. The Jays scored another run in the 7th. In the 8th, Pena reached base by bunting, then Luke Scott walked. So the Rays had 2 on, 1 out with Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce coming to the plate. This would be the last Rays’ threat and it would end with both batters striking out. In the 8th, Brett Lawrie hit a homerun off of Burke Badenhop. Jays now led 7-3.
Player of the Game: The Texas Rangers for beating the Boston Red Sox 18-3. The Red Sox had recently beaten the Rays badly and had gained ground in the A.L. East; now they are the only team the Ray are ahead of. The Rangers had six homeruns in the game; 3 of those were in the 8th inning.
What I Liked:
- Matt Joyce: Joyce hit a homerun, scoring run #3 today. He went 2-for-4 today (against a lefty), so its good seeing him making hits. Joyce had an amazing beginning 2011 season and it would be lovely if he could come through again this year with the big hits.
- Reid Brignac: Brignac didn’t do much hitting last year and hasn’t been batting too much this year, so it was very important for Brignac to gain self-confidence by having important hits. Today, he scored the first RBI and kept the 5th inning going. He went 1-2 today.
- Pitchers: Yes, the pitchers weren’t pitching like Justin Verlander, but there were some things I liked. Jeff Niemann had some good pitching combinations and only made two really bad pitches; the pitches just happened to be to power hitters Bautista and Lind. The problem was the high pitch count; though he had to make extra throws due to Longoria’s errors. Brandon Gomes, who was just called up yesterday, made important throws to kill a Jays’ threat (though an error caused by Longoria led to a run being scored).
- Carlos Pena: Carlos Pena went 3-for-4 and is batting .390 so far this season. He got 2 hits by bunting against the shift twice tonight.
What I didn’t like:
- Errors: Evan Longoria made 3 errors in tonight’s game, which led to 4 of the Jays runs (officially it was 2 un-earned runs, but I think the other two were scored also due to errors). Longoria is a gold-glove, so it is very surprising to see him commit so many errors tonight. Longoria also went 1-for-4; as one announcer said, he’s “playing angry.” Longoria was trying too hard to hit a homerun, which led to him striking out. I’ll be surprised if Longoria scored another error this year; it is no argument, he’s the best 3rd baseman in the A.L.
- Pitching: Jeff Niemann’s bad pitches ended up resulting in homeruns. Brandon Gomes looked a little shaky; J.P. Howell walked and had a wild pitch. Jake McGee allowed run #6 and Burke Bandenhop allowed run #7. The Rays have allowed 29 runs in 7th inning, the most in MLB.
- Lack of runs…again. The Rays only scored 3 runs, which is not much considered that the Blue Jays are known for hitting homeruns. The Rays are not going to win games by scoring three runs; just tonight the Rangers scored 18, the Red Sox scored 3, the Orioles scored 3, and the Yankees scored 8. If the Rays want to beat teams, they need to score more than 3 runs. Also, the Rays have been outscored 18-0 in the 8th inning; in the old days, that was the only inning they would score in. All Rays’ fans know that the Rays don’t start hitting until the 7th inning, but this hasn’t happened this year. Today, the Rays went 2-for-10 with RISP.
I predict that the Rays will win tomorrow; Evan Longoria and David Price will come through.
As Spring Training begins, the one trait of the Rays that
diminishes fans’ worries is pitching. Though Mr. No-Hitter Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs this past off-season, five
pitchers remain: Wade Davis, Jeremy
Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and James Shield. The biggest
question remains as what order the pitchers will be pitching. This is what I
David Price: 2010
Stats: 19-6, 2.72 ERA. Price was selected 1st overall in the 2007
Major League Baseball Draft and ever since then, he has become a fan favorite
in pitching. 99.9% of Rays fans remember him recording the final out of the Red
Sox in game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Game, which led to the
Rays making their first appearance in the World Series. After a shaky 2009 year
as a starting pitcher, Price bounced back in 2010 and was even a Cy Young candidate
(should have won). Price is also a left handed pitcher, one of the best in the
league (behind C. C. Sabathia). Price has shown that he can pitch under
pressure and deserves to be the opening day pitcher after a beautiful 2010
James Shields: 2010
Stats: 13-15, 5.18 ERA. Shields is currently the oldest starting Rays
pitcher and he is not even 30 yet. Shields has been the opening day pitcher
since 2008, but after his miserable
year last year, the torch will PROBABLY be
passed to Price. Shields allowed a MLB
most 34 homeruns last year; not surprising after the Toronto Incident. If several Rays fans have repressed their
memories on what happened on August 7, 2010, I will remind you because unfortunately
I was not able to repress it. That day Shields gave up 6 homeruns to the
Toronto Blue Jays. The reason why he is #2 pitcher is because 1) veteran
pitcher 2) 1 bad year cannot over shadow his other years and 3) Maddon remains loyal
to his players. Hopefully, Shields can demonstrate this Spring Training how he
has turned his life around, though on Sunday (Feb 27) Shields allowed a solo
homerun with 2 outs*flashbacks of 2010 year* I’m rooting for you Shields!
Jeff Niemann: 2010
Stats: 12-10, 4.07 ERA. Niemann stepped on the screen in the year 2009.
After Price’s rookie year was far from what Rays fans thought was going to
happen, Niemann proved that he too is an rookie amazing pitcher. Niemann ended 2009 with an outstanding record (13-6)
and was in discussion for the 2009 AL
Rookie of the Year. (In fact, I even tried bidding for his jersey, until realizing
I’m a poor college student and have no money.) Last year, Niemann started out
with a strong 2010 year before going on the DL half way through the season.
Ever since then, he ended the year losing nearly every game, though looked
promising in the last 2 games. Niemann
is bound to be back to normal, which is why he will be pitching #3 this year.
Wade Davis: 2010 Stats:
12-10 ERA 4.07. Davis barely made the starting roster last year and had a
few shaky starts that had Rays fans calling for his head (o because it so easy pitching
in a professional sport! Haters). Davis proved the doubters wrong, especially
after returning from the DL midseason. After Niemann was having trouble, Davis
was the opposite and showed his best pitching. Davis finished 2010 with 4th
place in AL Rookie of the Year voting and was Top Rookie amongst
Rays, determined by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball’s Writer’s Association.
Davis has a shot at getting to be #3 if he outshines Niemann (or even
Shields) in the next month.
Hellickson: 2010 Stats: 4-0, 3.47 ERA.
At 23, Hellickson is less than 2 years my senior, yet already is making a name
for himself. He was, in 2010, USA Today
Minor League Player of the Year, Triple-A
National Championship MVP, and Baseball
American Minor League All-Star. On August 2, 2010, Hellickson made his
major league debut against the Minnesota Twins. He was amazing and held the Twins
to only 2 runs over 7 innings (I witnessed his first game and kept the game ticket).
Hellickson is currently recovering from a sore hamstring, but he has a lot of
potential; Baseball America has him ranked as #6 Prospect. Now, I
just need to get him to autograph my game ticket.
Even though Matt
Garza will be deeply missed, the 5 starting pitchers left on team show that
the Rays still have a chance to win the A.L. East. Rays are counting on Shields
to make a comeback and Hellickson to live up to his potential. A baseball team
is only as strong as its pitching, which makes defeating the Yankees this year a
possibility. The Yankees’ rotation only contains 2 reliable pitchers (C.C.
Sabathia & Phil Hughes). The other 3 (A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Freddy
Garcia) will help determine if the Yankees can make it in October. The Rays’ Pitchers will make sure the Rays
will be there.
Sources: (Because plagiarism is bad)