Happy Opening Day!!!
I hope everyone went to the doctor and received prescriptions for high blood pressure and anxiety medication over the off-season because this season is expected to be the most exciting one in Tampa Bay Rays’ history. Several sports analysts predict the Rays will make it to the World Series. Now before Rays fans get too excited, there are 162 regular season games to be played.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Jose Reyes SS (left with hamstring tightness) –> Ryan Goins
- Melky Cabrera LF
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Dioner Navarro DH (remember him? 2008 Rays All-Star catcher)
- Brett Lawrie 3B
- Colby Rasmus CF
- Maicer Izturis 2B
- Josh Thole C –> Erik Kratz
- R.A. Dickey SP
Tampa Bay Rays
- David DeJesus LF –> Brandon Guyer
- Wil Myers RF
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- James Loney 1B
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Matt Joyce DH
- Jose Molina C
- Yunel Escobar SS
- David Price SP
David Price looked ready for the 2014 baseball season as he walked to the mound. Price had a quick 1-2-3 inning by getting Jose Reyes to fly out to center, Melky Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, and Jose Bautista to strike out. Rays leadoff hitter David DeJesus popped out, but Wil Myers wasted no time showing fans what to expect of him this season by hitting a double. After Ben Zobrist struck out, Evan Longoria singled to bring Myers home. Isn’t the Myers-Longoria threat beautiful? Price repeated his awesomeness in the second inning, quickly bringing the Rays back up to bat. Both Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are expected to be better offensively and both showed a positive sign that they were heading into that direction; Jennings doubled and Joyce walked. With two on, Jose Molina struck out, Yunel Escobar flied out to right, and DeJesus walked, bringing Myers up to bat in a bases-loaded situation. Myers being Myers, he singled to bring Jennings and Joyce home. At the end of the second inning, Rays lead 3-0.
In the third inning, Price allowed a walk to Colby Rasmus to end his 6-player retiring streak. Bautista singled, but Price was able to end the threat by getting Josh Thole to ground into a double play and Ryan Goins to ground out. The Rays added to their lead with Longoria leading off with a walk, Loney moving Longoria over by grounding out to pitcher, Longoria moving to third on a wild pitch, and scoring when Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to center. It looked as though the replay challenge was going to be used when Longoria slid into second base, but the Jays decided not to challenge it (Longoria was safe in the replays). The fourth inning was scary when Cabrera singled to center and Bautista singled to left, but Price was able to strike Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie out while getting Dioner Navarro to fly out to center.
At the bottom of the fifth inning, Zobrist led off with a walk. Longoria popped out to third (darn these infield popups), Loney walked, but then Jennings grounded out into a fielder’s choice, sending Loney back to the dugout. With two-on and two-out, Joyce doubled to right, bringing Zobrist and Jennings home. Molina flied out to center to end the inning, but the Rays now lead 6-0 over the Jays.
In the seventh inning, Loney lead off with a single and stole a base. Joyce doubled to send Loney to home plate where he was out. Molina ended the inning with a hit to shortstop (at least he hit the ball this time). Erik Kratz hits a 2-run homerun in the eighth inning. Kratz replaced pitch-hit for Thole, making his debut for his new team (so of course he hits a homerun on the first pitch against the Rays). After Price struck out Goins, Joe Maddon made the call to the bullpen and Joel Peralta was sent out. Price allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 102 pitches. Peralta retires the next two batters to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Dejesus comes out after being hit by a pitch during a pickoff at first. Brandon Guyer replaces DeJesus and waits on first as Myers approaches the plate. Myers ends up scoring both Guyer and himself due to a throwing error by pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and a throwing error by Bautista. Zobrist walks his third walk of the game, Longoria singles, and Loney hits a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist. Jennings singles to load the bases, but Molina (once again) ends the inning by grounding out. Rays now lead 9-2.
In the ninth, Brandon Gomes struck out Encarnacion, gave up a hit to Navarro, struck out Lawrie, and gets Rasmus to ground out to end the game. Rays win 9-2!
1 game down, 161 to go…
What I like:
- Offense: Almost every Ray contributed to the game today and some runs were even scored when the base runners were in scoring positions AND there were two outs. Crazy.
- Defense: Desmond Jennings make a spectacular catch in the first, a great start for the team since the defense wasn’t the best last year. Minus a ball that past Yunel Escobar’s glove, the defense looked what it is expected to be all the time.
- Pitching: David Price looked amazing – he wasn’t 100% perfect, but he looked ready to lead the team to plenty of wins his final year in Tampa Bay. Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes.
What I didn’t like:
- Evan Longoria and Wil Myers being separated. Joe Maddon probably has some explanation, but shush and put the powerhouses next to each other.
- It’s still too early and I’m determined not to bring up the past, but certain players need to stop being an instant out (who know who I’m talking about).
- The construction on I-275 is making the usual 30-45 minute drive to St. Petersburg to a 2-hour ordeal. For any Rays fans planning on making the trip to St. Pete this season, please leave early or expect some fun times on the Howard Franklin.
Jays haven’t won a series at the Trop since April 2007.
Replay challenge was used for the first time this season during the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates game. The play was upheld and took a long time of 2 minutes to decide it… Good-bye 10 minute yelling matches between managers and umpires.
On May 8, 2013, I joined fellow Tampa Bay Rays fans at Tropicana Field to participate in “Tweet-Up at the Trop.” I joined Twitter in 2011 to follow the Rays and to promote my blogs. Since I am in college, away from my family (also huge Rays fans) it was nice to talk with other fans about the game online since my roommates aren’t really into sports. During one of the games, I saw an advertisement for “Tweet-Up at the Trop.” The event allowed fans to purchase a $25 ticket, which includes:
- In-game recognition
- Discounted seat in the Lower Level
- Tweet-Up T-shirt with a custom Twitter user name
- Trivia and Prizes (autographs, jerseys, etc)
- Pre-Game Q&A session with Dave Wills (Rays Radio Announcer)
- Early entry to see the Rays’ batting practice
I entered through Gate 4 – the gate that only media and homeplate club members can go through. I picked up my shirt and was deeply impressed with it. I heard the last Twitter event had white shirts; the blue ones are much better.
Once I reached the section, Raymond was there to meet the fans and to take pictures with. At 5, in-game host Rusty Kath and radio announcer Dave Wills arrived to answer question. Wills discussed how he uses Twitter to up-to-date with other sports teams and how great it is to let fans become involved in the sport – the Rays use Twitter to let fans ask the broadcasters questions about the team.
After the question-answer session, I met up with some of my Twitter friends. Thanks to the shirts, I was able to recognize their Twitter names. Once the game began, all the special events took place in section 128 – The first pitch was thrown by the winner of a Twitter question. The Rays also had several trivia questions on Twitter throughout the night – one of the prizes was an autographed picture of Desmond Jennings and another prize was a Roberto Hernandez jersey.
The game ended up being perfect for a Twitter night, expect for the part when the Rays lose. But besides that, us Twitter users spent our time on our phones tweeting. In the beginning of the game, Sean Rodriquez was called out at home, even though replays show that Rodriquez slid across home plate. Coach Joe Maddon argued the call and was ejected after pointing out how there was evidence on the plate that Rodriquez slid across. The next event was when Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the eat with a ball. Images showed blood coming out of his ear. (Happ is now on the DL after being treated at Bayfront Hospital). Within minutes, Happ began trending on Twitter since all the fans were praying and thinking about him. After the bullpen gave up the lead (again) fans took to Twitter to vent.
Though the Rays lost, I had a great time at the game meeting other Twitter fans. The seats were great and it was great meeting Rusty and Dave in person – everyone there was friendly. My only recommendation would be having a player answer a few questions. I’m looking forward to next year’s event.
Today the Tampa Bay Rays faced former Ray pitcher James Shield. As every fan knows, Shields has been part of the Rays organization for 12 years and leads many of the pitching records for the team. He (along with pitcher Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson) was traded during the off-season for several prospects, including power-hitter Wil Myers. Before today’s game, several Rays’ players, coaches, and reporters spent time catching up with Shields.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Matt Joyce LF
- Ben Zobrist RF
- Evan Longoria 3B
- James Loney 1B
- Yunel Escobar SS
- Luke Scott DH
- Jose Molina C
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Alex Cobb P
- Alex Gordon LF
- Alcides Escobar SS
- Billy Butler DH
- Eric Hosmer 1B
- Lorenzo Cain CF
- Mike Moustakas 3B
- Jeff Francoeur RF
- Salvaador Perez C
- Elliot Johnson 2B
- James Shields P
Due to Cobb and Shields both being amazing pitchers, the game was expected to be a low-scoring game. To the surprise of many, the Rays quickly took the lead in the 1st inning. Lead-off hitter Desmond Jennings singled and then Matt Joyce hit a 2-run homerun, making it 2-0. Ben Zobrist flied out, Evan Longoria walked, and James Loney doubled to make it two-on, one-out, but Yunel Escobar and Luke Scott both struck out to end the inning. In the bottom of the 1st, Alex Cobb allowed only one hit to Billy Butler.
The Royals had a small threat in the bottom of the 2nd when there were two men on with two outs, but Cobb was able to get Elliot Johnson to fly out to left field. The Royals almost scored a run in the 5th inning when Johnson singled with two outs. Johnson stole 2nd then moved to 3rd on a wild pitch by Cobb. Luckily, Cobb struck out Alex Gordon.
In the 6th, Cobb was able to get Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler to ground out, but he allowed Eric Hosmer to double, Lorenzo Cain to single, and Mike Moustakas to homer, making it 3-2 in favor of the Royals. The Royals weren’t done – Jeff Francoeur doubled and Salvador Perez singled, making it 4-2. After allowing six straight hits with 2 outs, Cobb was replaced by Jamey Wright who was able to get Gordon to ground out. The Royals continued to score runs in the 7th inning while the Rays (pitching, defense, offense) all fell apart. With Brandon Gomes pitching in the 7th, Alcides Escobar singled and stole a base. Gomes struck out Butler and intentionally walked Eric Hosmer and then the Rays’ defense fell apart. Lorenzo Cain singled to center field – though three players were capable of catching the ball, none of them did. When Jeff Francoeur was batting, Cain stole 2nd base and Hosmer scored by a throwing error by catcher Jose Molina. Jeff Francoeur triples, making it 7-2.
In the top of the 8th, James Shields is replaced by Kelvin Herrera. Matt Joyce is the only player to make it to 1st – the Rays’ poor offense once again makes its appearance. When the Royals were batting, Cesar Ramos became the new pitcher and walked Elliot Johnson. Johnson ends up scoring a run after a single and two sac-flies. In the 9th, Loney leads off with a single and makes to third when Escobar singles and gets thrown out at second. With Loney on third with one out, Scott flies out to center and Molina strikes out – Rays lose 8-2. What was supposed to be an exciting pitching match between Alex Cobb and James Shields ended up being an embarrassing Rays’ loss.
- Alex Cobb entered the game with 10 wins since August 1, 2012 – tied for the most in MLB in that span.
- With Matt Joye’s home run today, that is a team-record tying 15 straight games with a homer for the Rays (record was set in 2009).
- Since Matt Joyce’s hit lead-off on Friday, he’s homered three times in four games, and has six RBI over that stretch
- James Shields’ wife and parents came to the game today – they must be in a good mood.
- With Luke Scott being called up, Shelley Duncan was sent down to the minors.
- 9 out of 14 games the Rays have lost after having the lead.
Around the League:
- On Monday, the New York Yankees lost to the Houston Astros for the first time since 2003. Former Ray Carlos Pena had 1 RBI and 1 Run in that game for the Astros.
- Kevin Youkilis is back on the DL for his sore back.
- Another slow start for the Los Angeles Angels may mean coach Michael Scioscia may be out of a job.
After the “he-said, he-said” incident between Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price and homeplate umpire Tom Hallion, Price and several other Rays are waiting to hear if they will be fined by Major League Baseball. In 2012, MLB created a new law that forbids baseball players and coaches from criticizing umpires to the media – not surprising considering how much MLB protects the umpires. While players can be fined and suspended for one incident, it takes three incidents for an umpire to be suspended and even if he is punished, MLB will keep it a secret. Hallion was suspended in 1999 for bumping a player and a coach; he has a history of being an instigator.
Price also believes the ESPN video clip of him leaving the field distorts what happens – which is true. When I was watching ESPN, the clip made it seem that Price was talking to the umpire when he headed back to the dugout and that the umpire ejected him, but in reality, Price was just talking to himself (which he is known to do) and Jeremy Hellickson was actually ejected. Hellickson seemed to be the scapegoat since all the Rays were upset at Hallion because several players heard Hallion use the F-word to Price. Several sports analysts seemed to believe Price started the argument, when it was Hallion.
Price believes that none of the Rays players should be fined and that he was unaware of MLB’s social media that prohibits players from posting content “that questions the impartially of or otherwise denigrates a Major League umpire.” Besides Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Sean Rodriquez make comments on their Twitter accounts that criticized Hallion. Even if the four players are fined, MLB may choose to not punished Hallion at all.
Marc Topkin Price hasn’t heard from MLB yet, still upset at ump’s language Tampa Bay Times
- Umpire tells David Price “to throw the ball over the F-in Plate” (mlblogstbchick2011.wordpress.com)
After a rough 2-7 road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays returned home to sweep the Oakland Athletics’s and continued their winning streak against the New York Yankees.
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Ryan Roberts 2B
- Ben Zobrist RF
- Evan Longoria 3B
- Sean Rodriquez 1B
- Yunel Escobar
- Shelley Duncan DH
- Jose Lobaton C
- Sam Fuld LF
- Matt Moore P
- Brett Gardener CF
- Ben Francisco DH
- Robinson Cano 2B
- Vernon Wells LF
- Francisco Cervelli C
- Brennan Boesch RF
- Eduardo Nunez SS
- Lyle Overbay 1B
Kevin Youkilis* Jayson Nix 3B
- CC Sabathia P
*While Alex Rodriquez is recovering from steroid allegations and surgery, Kevin Youkilis is the new third baseman; but he was scratched from today’s game due to back pain. Youkilis had missed Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays for the same reason.
While Rays and Yankees fans are used to seeing David Price and CC Sabathia match-ups, the match-up between Matt Moore and Sabathia was just as entertaining. Moore walked lead-off hitter Brett Gardner in the 1st inning, but quickly got the next three batters out. When the Rays were at-bat, Ryan Roberts (the one with all the tattoos) hit a homerun to left field. With two outs, Evan Longoria singled and then scored when Sean Rodriquez hit a triple. Yunel Escobar then hit a homerun, making it 4-0 at the end of the 1st inning.
In the 3rd inning, Roberts once again hit a homerun to left field (seriously, who does this against Sabathia?) The Yankees scored at the top of the 4th when Robinson Cano hit a homerun, but they never scored another run in the game. The Yankees had a threat in the 6th when Moore walked Gardner and Cano reached first base due to an error by Escobar – Gardener moved up to third base on this same error. Moore was able to get the next two batters out to end the threat. The rest of the game quickly went by – total game time was only 2:29.
Matt Moore became the first Rays pitcher in history to win his first four starts: he pitched 8 innings, struck out 9, and pitched a total of 117 pitches.
The attendance was 15,331 – meaning that the New York Yankees fans aren’t coming to the Rays games anymore. Gone are the days when Rays vs. Yankees brought 80% Yankees fans and 20% Rays fans. Is it because the Rays have won 12 of its last 14 home games against the Yankees dating back to July 2011?
Also, Robinson Cano is being investigated for steroid use. A Biogenesis client roster lists the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano’s foundation, plus the fact that he’s friends with A-Roid and Melky Cabrera. Hmm…he did hit a homerun today. But seriously, stop taking steroids and doing illegal drugs.
Around the League
- Cy Younger Winner R.A. Dickey having back/neck problems, but will pitch against the Baltimore Orioles.
- Felix Hernandez got win 100 today – pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros.
- Albert Pujols will be the Los Angeles Angels’ DH for a while due to foot pain.
As I was looking for the Tampa Bay Rays game on television, I came across this
Obviously, the guy in charge of typing the description copied and pasted the description from Toronto Blue Jays R.A. Dickey, who also had a bad outing the same day as Price, but why does this stuff always happen to the Rays?
When B.J. Upton left the Rays, not only did the Rays lose an amazing center-fielder and a playoff hitter, they lost a speedster. Upton was one of the fastest runners on the team; he and Desmond Jennings (or Carl Crawford) were known for getting on base, stealing bases, and scoring when the power hitters were up at-bat. Now that Upton is gone, Jennings remains at the top of the batting order, but the Rays haven’t decided who will be batter number two.
According to Wikipedia, the leadoff hitter is the fastest baserunner on the team and its his job to get on base and to score when the powerful hitters come up to bat – Jennings is the fastest player on the team and one of the most consistent batters on the team so it makes sense that he is the leadoff hitter. The second batter should be a “contact hitter with the ability to bunt a baserunner over or get a hit.” These baserunners should be quick to avoid batting into double plays and managers prefer left-handed batters because of the “gap in the infield cause by the first baseman holding the leadoff batter”.
Out of the nine games played so far this year, Sam Fuld (4), Matt Joyce (3), and Sean Rodriquez (2) have been in the two-hole.
- Sam Fuld: Fuld is known for his speed and his batting average (BA) is .111 – the lowest on the team – with a on-base-percentage (OBP) of .241. His average BA is .241 and OBP is .322.
- Matt Joyce: Joyce is a lefty and is batting .174 with a OBP of .240. His average BA is .253 and OBP is .342.
- Sean Rodriquez: Rodriquez is able to run and is batting .143. with a OBP of .250. His average BA is .225 and OMP is .301.
So far this season, none of the three have been impressive; but most of the Rays have not been hitting or getting on base. Fuld and Rodriquez are both fast baserunners and capable of bunting, while Joyce is more likely to get a hit and is a left-handed batter. Since Fuld and Rodriquez are utility players and Joyce only plays when the pitcher is a right-handed pitcher, this could mean the Rays may not have a permanent two-hole batter this season.