- Five Tampa Bay Players are competing in the World Baseball Classic: Alex Torres (Venezuela), Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic), Cesar Ramos (Mexico), Jose Molina (Puerto Rico), and Ben Zobrist (United States).
- There is now a boar’s head mounted on Luke Scott’s locker. Scott is known as being a hunter, but he has now taken up spear hunting instead of shooting . Only in Florida…
- New Rays pitcher Juan Sandoval is making a name for himself in Tampa Bay after fans found out that he is blind in one eye. Sandoval is a 32 years-old, right-handed pitcher competing for a spot in the Rays’ organization. In 2006, a shooting incident between a security guard and a customer at a restaurant in the Dominican Republic resulted in Sandoval loosing his eyesight in one eye. When this shooting incident happened, Sandoval was in the Seattle Mariners organization. After bouncing from the Mariners to the Brewers and to the Phillies, Sandoval landed in the Mexico League. In 2011, he made 67 appearances in 103 games last year, had a 7-3 record and a 2.97 ERA. During winter 2012, he went to the Dominican Winter League where he met Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta. Peralta recommended him to the Rays and now Sandoval is back in the United States. “I’ve worked hard but it’s not about the eye,” he says. “I don’t think about that. I have three kids now. I support my mom and dad. These are key things that are at the center of my life, the ones that make me work harder. These kids are maybe why I got better. I have to support them. Not because I want to prove to the world.”
- MLB has named “Astro bobblehead” as the best give away this year in baseball season. Astro is David Price’s dog.
- Joe Maddon says Alex Cobb will have a spot in the starting rotation, along with David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson. That means only one spot is left in the starting rotation.
- Desmond Jennings is ready to become center-fielder. Though he knows that B.J. Upton has a better arm, he is ready to take over since center-field feels more natural to him.
- First game of Spring Training: Saturday 23, Split Squad against the Pirates at 1:05 pm.
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.
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…
Due to the past weekend being dedicated to my birthday celebration and a Bridal Shower, I have missed the past few Rays games; but, I have heard nothing about sorrow about the Rays. Today, I was hoping the Rays would win the game due to the win yesterday; but, after seeing Kelly Shoppach and Felipe Lopez were in the line-up, I was becoming a doubter. But in the 2nd inning, Shoppach doubled, which led to a run. In the 3rd inning, B.J. Upton and Lopez both drove in runs. In other words, even the worst Rays batters were batting.
Then it got scary in the bottom of the 3rd when the Seattle Mariners were up to bat. Wade Davis began the inning by walking the lead off batter Carlos Peguero, then allowed a single, triple, sac-bunt, and a single. At the end of the 3rd inning, the Mariners had tied the inning up. Through the next several innings, both pitchers managed to prevent base runners until the top of the 7th inning. Davis walked the lead-off hitter then allowed a single by Peguero. I was hoping Davis would be taken out to prevent another inning in which he blew the lead, but Davis stayed in. He kept throwing balls and looked awful and allowed the Mariners to take the lead at 5-3.
Things were looking bleak for the Rays but luckily Damon, Zobrist, and Joyce helped the Rays tie the game. With 2 out, Evan Longoria was called in to pinch-hit. Longo had been out due to soreness, but is expected to play tomorrow against Anaheim Angels. Longo singled, allowing the Rays to take the lead at 6-5.
Now there was only 6 outs left before the Rays could get the win, but J.P. Howell was up. Recently, Howell blew a Rays’ lead, so I was once again worried. Howell was injured at the end of 2009 and has recently returned to the Rays, but he has not been dominant. IF I was Maddon, I would only put Howell in if 1) the Rays were up by 5 runs so in case Howell messed up, they would still win or 2) if Howell was to come out to get the final out in the 7th/8th with no runners on. Thus, if Howell succeeds, it will bring his confidence up; but if Howell failed, it would not cost the Rays game. At the moment, Howell has shown no reason to be the pitcher for the 8th inning in a close game. Today, Howell showed he should not be the pitcher in the 8th inning.
Howell was able to get the first out, but he walked and allowed a single. With 2 on and 1 out, Maddon should have taken Howell out (this is not hindsight, I was shouting at my TV for Maddon to take Howell out), but he left Howell in, even though he was having trouble finding the strike zone. Howell allows a single and leaves with the Rays tied at 6-6.
Then Maddon made one of the worst calls ever (maybe not ever, but it was super bad). Last night, Rays pitcher Joel Peralta replaced Jeremy Hellickson in the 8th inning (Rays were winning 3-0 at this time). Peralta allowed pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo to hit a 2-run homerun, cutting the Rays’ lead to 3-2. TODAY, Maddon replaced Howell with Peralta with Olivo batting! It was déjà vu – Olivo hit a 3-run homerun and the Mariners won a few minutes later.
Maddon is supposed to be a stat-coach, yet he didn’t realize that Peralta allowed a home run by Olivo yesterday? Maddon didn’t realize that Howell allowed 4 runs (3 unearned) and retired 0 batters in the 8th inning against the Cleveland Indians about a week ago? I appreciate all that Howell did in 2009 with the Rays, but he does not deserved to pitch in a stressful situtation. Howell needs to build his confidence up again before he (if he can) return to his old form.
Though the Rays’ offense was great, Rays’ pitching was horrible and mismanaged. With the Rays now tied with the Toronto Blue Jays with being 4 games out of 1st in the A.L East, they better start winning games and series again soon before they fall too far behind.