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
@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:
@BJUPTON2 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
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 Tampa Bay Rays entered Detroit with a 3-0 series over the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers were ready to face them, having won a 3-0 series over the Boston Red Sox. The afternoon game was played in chilly 40-50 degrees weather; but the Rays looked frozen throughout the whole game. The only Rays’ action was in the 3rd inning where Brignac singled (his first hit of the year), Jennings singled, Pena was hit by a pitch, and Longoria was walked to score Brignac. The Rays’ lead quickly fell when Rays’ ace pitcher Matt Moore walked Alan Jackson on two outs. The next batter, Brennan Boesch, singled, scoring Jackson. The Tigers had another threat brewing in the fifth inning after Jackson walked (also on two outs), and Boesch singled. Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked and somehow Moore got Prince Fielder to fly out to left field.
The Rays took the lead again in the 7th inning after Molina hit a ground rule double. For some odd reason, a Tiger fan decided to reach and take the baseball that was still in play. This is the third fan interference call in the past three games for the Rays. Jennings managed to score Molina, Rays now led 2-1. The Tigers quickly answered back when Jackson hit a homerun; the game was now 2-2. The game was under control until the 8th inning. Cabrera and Fielder teamed up for one run, chasing Jake McGee out of the game. Burke Badenhop was brought in to do control damage, but the Tigers scored two more runs off of him. The Tigers won 5-2.
The Tigers won 6 out of 7 games against the Rays last year, so it is not surprising that the Tigers still have the Rays’ numbers. Actually, the Tigers look more like a threat than the Red Sox and Yankees since the Tigers have power and pitching. I’m glad we only have to play them six more times this, with four games being played at Tropicana Field. It is up to Shields and Niemann to halt the Tigers’ winning streak. Shields is looking to redeem himself after his poor performance on opening day while Niemann is out to show that he does deserve the fifth starter spot on the team.
Player of the Game: Matt Moore. Moore is still young and was not pitching like an ace today, but he kept the score low. Moore’s biggest problem was throwing balls; he walked a total of 5 (though 1was intentional) players today. Moore also showed he was able to get the first two batters out, but he had trouble getting the third batter out. (I believe Shields had this problem two years ago). Moore managed to keep his cool in dangerous situations, showing a high level of maturity.
What I like:
- Reid Brignac had his first hit of the season and ended up scoring the first run of the game. Ever since Jason Bartlett left, the Rays’ shortstop position has been hitting around .220. If the short stop can start batting around .250, then the Rays will have more opportunities to score runs.
- Carlos Pena: Pena only had one hit, but had several very good at-bats. He hit the balls hard, but sadly the Tigers were in the perfect place to catch the balls. Pena also worked the count, unlike several Rays players who swung at the first pitch and became quick outs.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Rays’ Offense: Only Desmond Jennings had 2 hits today while Jeff Keppinger and Sean Rodriquez had 0 hits. Most of the innings in the game were 1-2-3 outs, thus the Tiger’s pitchers had low pitch counts and Matt Moore did not have much time to rest between innings.
- Bull Pen: The Bull Pen allowed the Tigers to score 3 runs in the last two innings, allowing the Tigers to win 5-3. McGee and Badenhop were the two pitchers who failed to get the job done today.
- Jose Molina: Molina let a wild-pitch get by him, which led to the Tigers scoring their first run of the game. This is the second time in four games that a wild-pitch has gotten by Molina. The Rays haven’t had a decent catcher since 2008 when Dioner Navarro had an All-Star year, excellent defense and high batting average. The Rays NEED a catcher; to me, this is their biggest problem every year. Everyone knows we don’t have a catcher. I can’t diss Molian too much since he did score a run and I did like Moore and Molina talking in the dugout, but I want a catcher to play defense.
Christmas came early for Tampa Bay Rays’ fans this year due to the one-year, $1.8 million signing of Jose Molina. Molina is one of the famous Molina brothers; his older brother Benjamin recently retired from baseball while his younger brother Yadier is a gold-glove winner with the St. Louis Cardinals. Molina recently played with the Toronto Blue Jays where he showed that even former Ray Carl Crawford could not steal against him. In one game in 2010, Molina was able to catch a total of four Rays stealing, including Crawford twice. This is not a surprise since he has caught 62 out of 170 runners in the past four seasons, boasting the highest percentage (36.5%) in major league baseball. The Rays have had recent trouble catching runners so this will prevent teams, like the Texas Rangers, from stealing bases off the Rays. Molina is also coming off his best batting year since he batted .281, even though he only caught for fifty games. His career batting average is .241, which is about the average the Rays batted in 2011. Another plus of the Molina deal is he is signed for only $1.8 million; a pleasant surprise after the Rays wasted $6 million on Kelly Shoppach who batted under .200 with two seasons with the Rays. (The Rays declined Shoppach’s option this off-season). Molina’s veteran presence will also help prepare current minor league catchers Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos. Before spending some time with the Blue Jays and New York Yankees, he spent several years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, thus he has worked with Joe Maddon before. The Rays’ catching problems have finally been addressed with Jose Molina.
The other Rays’ catcher, John Jaso, was recently traded to the Seattle Mariners for right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lueke. Lueke was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2007 but was traded during the Cliff Lee deal to the Seattle Mariners. He made his major debut in 2011, pitching 32.2 innings for an ERA of 6.06; though his ERA is not exactly impressive, he is known for his fast ball. In late November, Lueke was traded to the Rays in hopes of becoming a threat in their bullpen. The 2011 season bullpen was built from scratch and though a few pitchers showed prospect throughout the season, it is currently still a work-in-process that is currently being addressed this off-season. The biggest surprise of the trade was not Lueke’s ERA but his criminal history; he had faced felony charges in rape and sodomy. In May 2008, Lueke and his Class A teammates were at a bar in Bakersfield, California where they met several women. The women went back to the Lueke’s apartment that he shared with some of his Class A teammates. It was there that a 22-year-old woman claimed to have passed out drunk on the bathroom floor after vomiting. When she awoke, she was confused and felt violated. Lueke was then charged with sexual assault but he claimed he never touched her. In March 2009, DNA tests linked Lueke to semen found inside the women. Lueke changed his story and claimed that the sex was consensual and that he had only lied because he did not want his girlfriend to find out. Lueke was arrested. As the trial wore on, the victim gave her consent for prosecutors to offer a plea deal because was becoming depressed due to the stress of the trial. Lueke pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and was sentenced to the 42 days he spent in jail before posting bail and sentenced to three years of felony probation. Lueke’s criminal past is something new to the Tampa Bay Rays since the majority of players are young players with clean images unlike several major league teams known for players with big egos and tempers. It will be interesting to see if Lueke will positively impact the bullpen and if he will be accepted as a Ray by the fans.
“Catcher Molina and Tampa Bay Rays Agree,” The Washington Post
“Jose Molina Career Stats,” Baseball-Reference.com
“Josh Lueke Career Stats,” Baseball-Regerence.com
Geoff Baker, “Coach says Mariners were told of Josh Lueke’s Criminal Past,” The Seattle Times