- 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.
The Tampa Bay Rays dropped another game to the Baltimore Orioles tonight, though I am not surprised. When I first saw the line-up, I was disappointed that Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce were not playing tonight. I understand that Orioles’ pitcher Brian Matusz is a lefty and Pena and Joyce are also lefties, but seriously I’m tired of the Rays creating a whole new line-up for lefty pitchers. A few weeks ago Pena and Joyce both had several hits off a lefty pitcher, so it is possible for them to hit against lefties. And even if they do not hit, I would rather see Pena at first instead of Jeff Keppinger and Joyce in left instead of Brandon Guyer.
It was probably one of the worst Rays’ games I have seen in a while, worse than the other games this past week. In the 1st inning, Ben Zobrist got a lead-off walk, but Sean Rodriquez hit into a double play. BJ Upton singed and stole second, but his threat ended when Keppinger struck out to end the inning. In the 2nd inning, Guyer hit a homerun, making it Rays 1-0. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Adam Jones was safe at first on an error by Rodriquez; Rodriquez threw the ball over Keppinger’s head (Pena would not have been able to catch that ball). Jones was then safe at second on a throwing error by pitcher Matt Moore, who threw the ball into right field into of 1st base. After walked Matt Wieters, Moore struck out the next two batters but allowed Steve Tolleson to double, scoring two runs (run #2 was scored on an error caused by Guyer; the ball managed to roll by him into the corner of left field). Baltimore now led the Rays 2-1, all of the Orioles’ runs being scored because of errors. The Rays ended up committing three errors in the 2nd inning; making it the first time the Rays have committed that many errors in an inning since becoming the Rays instead of the Devil Rays.
In the 3rd, Will Rhymes hit a leadoff double but the next three Rays failed to bring him in. This seemed to be the theme of the week, the Rays manage to get on base but fail to bring the base runners home. In the 5th, Elliot Johnson was called out after bunting off his foot… enough with the bunting. In the bottom of the 5th, what would have been an easy pop-up ended up as catcher’s interference (error #4), this makes Chris Gimenez’s third error of the year. Moore began to fall apart and loaded the bases; to the horror of Rays’ fans, Jones was up to bat. Jones managed to single to centerfield, scoring two runs. BJ Upton committed an error by dropping the ball but even if he did not make the error, there was no one covering second base, allowing Jones to run to second base. Wade Davis was called in and he managed to get the final two outs. Moore failed once again to last past the fifth inning.
In the 6th, the Rays managed to score two runs due to the teamwork of Keppinger, Guyer, Luke Scott, and Orioles’ third baseman Tolleson committing an error. The error allowed Keppinger and Guyer to move up one base, thus allowing them to score on Scott’s single. The Orioles now led by only one run. None of the teams put up threats in the next several innings, minus a home run by the Orioles; thus the Rays lost to the Orioles again.
Player of the Game:
- Part of the Rays’ Bullpen: Wade Davis came in the 5th inning with two on, one out. He walked one Oriole, but was able to get two outs without giving up a run. In the 7th, Davis got all three batters to ground out. If Moore does not improve by the All-Star break, I would not be surprised to see Davis as a starting pitcher again. In the 7th, Burke Badenhop walked one, struck out three to end the inning. Badenhop’s last pitch was just amazing. The Bullpen worked several innings and did not give up any runs. JP Howell pitched the 8th inning, striking out the first batter but gave up a homerun in the 8th inning to make it 5-3. The homerun really did not effect the outcome of the game.
What I Liked:
- Bullpen: Reasons listed earlier
What I Didn’t’ Like:
- Lack of Aggressive Swinging: The Rays swung at balls out of the strike zone, but did not swing at fastballs done the middle (Rhymes and Keppinger for example). In majority of the strike outs tonight, the Rays did not swing on strike three. Several times, the Rays were about to swing, but held back for some reason. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing for Rays to hit balls out of the strike zone; Orioles’ Robert Adino managed to hit a double off a ball that was out of the strike zone. Rays are going to have to start being aggressive at the plate if they want to make it to the World Series.
- Bunting: There were two bunting attempts today, which resulted in two outs. I had no problem with bunting until this year because the bunt seems to be used in the wrong situations. As Brian Anderson said, why would Rhymes bunt at a ball “up and off the plate?” I’m for Carlos Pena bunting against the shift and Desmond Jennings bunting and beating the throw to first, but lately the Rays have looked awkward at the bunt.
- The five errors committed in today’s game were just plain awful and resulting in the Orioles winning the game. Rays have been known for pitching and defense, but today the Rays did not have either.
- Matt Moore’s Short Outing: Moore has the talent and I know he will be a great pitcher, but at the moment he is having trouble getting strike three. He drives his pitch count up high in the beginning of the game, resulting in him getting pulled in the 5th inning several times this season. It is becoming a burden on the bullpen who is forced to work four-five innings whenever Moore pitches.
Predictions: Rays will get out of this slump, but to do that these things need to happen:
- Matt Moore needs to last more than 5 innings. As soon as he does, he will have the confidence to be the Moore of last year. His problem is getting the final third strike due to command issues. If he fails to fix his problem by the All-Star break, I wonder what if the Rays will make a roster move.
- Aggressive Hitting: Rays are going to have to score at least four runs every game if they want to remain competitive. Walking is great, but walking does not score runs, hitting does. Scoring three runs may beat the Seattle Mariners, but not the Orioles, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, etc. Swinging at balls but not at strikes is baffling.
- Better Defense: The defense this season has just been awful. Tonight the Rays made five errors, that has not happened since 2001.
I believe the Rays are capable of winning without Evan Longoria; I mean they have done it before, they can do it again. Though I can’t wait to see Desmond Jennings and Longoria back.
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…
When Rays DH Luke Scott was asked several days ago about Fenway Park, he said it was a dump to play at. In Game 2 against the Red Sox, Scott drove in 4 RBIs, showing that he indeed hates Fenway Park. But sadly, he was one of the few Rays to express his hatred for Fenway Park in this game. The Rays failed once again to beat their biggest rivals in baseball, giving the Red Sox their first two consecutive wins since August 27, 2011.
The Rays took an early lead in the first inning when Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz had trouble finding the strike zone. Desmond Jennings walked and scored when Carlos Pena doubled. Pena continues to be hot, hitting RBIs in nearly every game this year. After Buchholz got Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce to get out, Ben Zobrist walked to bring Luke Scott to the plate. Scott has been absent after having hamstring troubles, but he quickly showed what the Rays have been missing in the past few games by hitting a homerun. Rays were winning 4-0 after the 1st inning.
Trouble started in the bottom of the 2nd when Jeremy Hellickson managed to get the first two outs, but walked Ryan Sweeney then gave up a homerun to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The score was now 4-2, in favor of the Rays. In the 3rd, Scott was back at the plate, hitting a double to score Joyce. This would be the last run scored for the Rays, who after getting an early lead, failed for the third time in three games to keep it. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo homerun in the third, making the score 5-3. In the fourth inning, Hellickson fell apart after giving up a single to Ortiz. Though bases were loaded, Hellcikson managed to prevent the Red Sox was scoring, but his pitch count increased drastically. In the fifth inning, Hellickson managed to get the first two batters out, but allowed Kevin Youkilis to single than gave up a homerun to David Ortiz. The game was now tied. Usually, the Rays begin to play baseball toward the end of the game, but for some unknown reason, they went down without a fight. Buchholz found the strike zone and was plowing the Rays down.
In the 7th inning, the Red Sox showed that the Rays’ bullpen is their biggest weakness at the moment. Mike Aviles hit a homerun off of Burke Badenhop. J.P. Howell was called in to limit the damage, but allowed Adrian Gonzales to double to center, walked Youkils, gave up a hit to Ortiz, and then gave up a double to Cody Ross; the Red Sox now lead 8-5. Meanwhile, the Rays seemed to raise the white flag AGAIN. They did not hit, walk, or work the pitch count. They looked awful at the plate. Now the 8th inning was up and it was déjà vu from Game 1 of the series. Dan De La Rosa, who was just called up today, was making his first appearance. Since this was his first game, I will not bad mouth him. But, let’s just say I was not too impressed by him. Darnell McDonal walked, Aviles doubled, Pedroia singled (because De La Rosa forgot to cover first base for Pena), Gonzales hit into a double play, Youkils walked, Ortiz doubled, and Ross homered. The score was now Red Sox 13, Rays 5.
Now for some fun facts
- The Red Sox have scored 13 runs in the 8th inning in the past two games.
- This was the first time since July 21-22, 2007 in which the
DevilRays allowed 12 or more runs in consecutive games. (I was not even in college yet)
- The Red Sox have scored 25 runs in the past two games.
- The Rays Starting pitchers have allowed 23 runs in 47 innings while the bull pen has allowed 28 runs in 20 innings.
- Third game in a row in which the Rays starting pitcher failed to make it to the 6th inning.
- The Rays have scored 15 runs in the past five games (2, 4, 2, 2, 5). How nice, the Rays have scored 2 runs or less in 37.5% of the games so far. Last year, it was 32%. This is not a good sign!!! The starting pitchers will get better because they usual do, the bull pen will get better because it usually does, but the batting has not changed in the past few years. How many times do I have to say “Get the Man In!?”
What I Liked:
- Luke Scott: Scott, who looks like Wolverine, showed up today. Scott decided it was unfair for the Rays to depend on Carlos Pena for all their hits, so he went 2-for-4 today. Scott had 4 RBIs, including a home run. If Scott did not show up today, the Rays would of scored only one run… (Ok, maybe I’m being harsh, but who knows; just glad Scott is back).
- Carlos Pena: Pena continues to hit, scoring 1 run today. He is batting .379 at the moment, which is way better than .190 in 2010. Maybe if I wear my Pena jersey tomorrow, he’ll hit another grand slam…
- Jacob Ellsbury: Ellsbury, who was injured yesterday, might be out for a few months. Though I don’t like it when players are hurt, Ellsbury purposely slid into Reid Brignac to break up the double play, so its his own fault.
- Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach wasn’t in the game today so I didn’t have to watch him play.
- Orioles: Yankees lost to the Angels today so the Orioles are now in first place in the A.L. East. Go Orioles!
What I Didn’t Like:
- Bullpen: The bullpen has made another negative appearance in my blog. As mentioned earlier, the bullpen has allowed 28 runs in 20 innings. Though this is due to the fact that the Rays starters have failed to pitch past the 5th inning, it does not help that the Red Sox have scored 13 runs in the 8th innings. The 8th inning is usually bullpen territory, so this is just not acceptable. My advice, James Shields, get ready to start throwing complete games again this year if you want a win. There will be more depth in the bull pen with Kyle Farnsworth returns, but what if he is not the same as last year? Fernando Rodney is the only pitcher that can be depended on, Wade Davis being second. On the plus side, Scott Lueke has been sent down to the minors.
- Starting Pitching: For the past three games, the Rays starters (Jeff Niemann, David Price, and Jeremy Hellickson) have started out well, but failed to find the strike zone after the second inning. Now I am super curious as to why this is. Jeff Niemann’s issue could be blamed on James Shields being put between Matt Moore and Niemann in order to duel against Justin Verlander; but this does not explain Price and Hellickson. Hellickson had a large pitch count from his previous outing, so maybe that is the reason. It’s just very disappointing to see how the best rotation in baseball is not living up to the expectations, especially since the Rays can’t hit a baseball. Matt Moore, it is up to you to save the series.
- Lack of Hitting: Once again, the Rays did not hit the ball. Yes, they scored 5 runs, but Luke Scott had 4 RBIs and Carlos Pena had 1 RBI. No one else is hitting the ball! Evan Longoria, who usually loves playing at Fenway, has been hitless this series. He usually bats around .270 against Boston, not .000. But, it is stupid to think that the three power hitters will win every single game. Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings have random hits, but where are the other hitters???
- Injuries: Jose Lobaton has been sent to the D.L., Chris Gimenez has been called up and will start as catcher on Sunday. Elliot Johnson, who may not be the best hitter but is a decent fielder, was injured trying to make a catch in left field. Not good, since Sam Fuld is going to be out for a while.
- Technical Difficulties: Game 162 wasn’t shown after the game due to technical difficulties, thus I am still upset over this series and writing angry blogs.
So what now? Matt Moore needs to last at least 7 innings tomorrow, allowing
the bullpen a smaller chance to ruin the game Fernando Rodney to pick up a save. Also, more batters need to participate in hitting and scoring runs.