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 Boston Red Sox should be celebrating; after all, they ended an early season disaster by winning 3 out of 4 games against A.L. East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, they are questioning the odd comments from their new manager, Bobby Valentine. On Sunday morning at his weekly interview at WHDH-TV’s Sports Xtra, Valentine was asked about Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis is off to another slow start after having his worst career year in 2011, one that was plagued by injuries. Youkilis is currently batting .200 with 8 strike outs, 3 RBIs, and 6 hits. Valentine said “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But (on Saturday) it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.” It was strange of Valentine to question Youkilis’ emotions since at time he seems to be too emotionally involved in the game; practically dancing at his at-bats and throwing helmets in anger. Also, the interview did not help Valentine gain new fans. Valentine was already booed on opening day at Fenway Park due to the Red Sox’s slow start. When the interview aired Sunday night, baseball fans all over the country began to question why a new manager would bad mouth one of the Red Sox’s star players.
On Monday morning, Youkilis confronted Valentine about his comments. This actually surprised Valentine, he was just expecting Youkilis to update him about his groin injury (Youkilis would miss Monday’s game because of a minor groin injury). What exactly was said we may never know, but Valentine claims he apologized, though he does not know if Youkilis accepted his apology. Valentine attempted to explain his bizarre comment before Monday’s game, saying “I should have been more specific. Physical is about your swing, emotional is about not being happy when he doesn’t hit a ball off the wall,” but no one is buying it. Some have theorized that Valentine is attempting to unite the Red Sox as a family. Dustin Pedroia stated that he is confused by Valentine’s comments, but he and the rest of the team have Youkilis’ back. It is no secret that the Red Sox clubhouse has had an adverse feeling since there was at least one rat in the bunch telling secrets to the media last fall. Valentine could also have been attempting to motivate Youkilis, but the real reason why Valentine would throw Youkilis under the bus is still a mystery. Criticizing a player is a strange way to build a family.
On Monday, Terry Francona, former Red Sox manager and current ESPN analyst, was asked about his experience with Youkilis. Francona says at first, the Red Sox organization thought Youkilis was too emotional and they tried to calm him down, but they realized that was just who he was. Though he sometimes went back to the dugout and threw a helmet down in anger, he quickly moved on from his bad at-bat. Francona also commented that each manager is different and has his own way of handling things. I bet the Red Sox players are regretting all the chicken they ate and all the beer they drank since their poor sportsmanship helped kick Francona out of Boston. Valentine is no Francona as the Red Sox players are realizing. The Red Sox players were already worried that Bobby Valentine would make “it all about Bobby,” since he is known for making odd comments. Now they have to worry which player will be publicly criticized. Though Valentine tried to do damage control by explaining he just meant to talk about Youkilis’ batting, he pretty much lost all the Red Sox fans that he gained by beating the Rays. Valentine could either help unite the Red Sox by leading them to the playoffs, or he could tear Red Sox nation down either further by creating a hostile environment.
Quotes are from Sports Illustrated
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.
Apparently, the Red Sox have been waiting for the Rays for the past few months. Today was the Red Sox Home Opener and the Red Sox showed their fans why they shouldn’t push the panic button yet. Josh Beckett, the starting pitcher, was booed by the fans; I doubt they’ll be booing him the next time he pitches. This had to be the worst game for the Rays ever (maybe not, but for me, it hurt).
The Rays proved once again that there are just some games in which they just can’t hit the ball. Ben Zobrist singled then scored when Jeff Keppinger doubled, taking an early lead in the 2nd inning. This would be the only run the Rays would score in the whole game.
Beginning in the 3rd Inning, the Rays began to fall apart. Kelly Shoppach, former Ray, purposely leaned in and got hit by David Price (Another reason why I hate Shoppach). After that, Price never found the strike zone. Suddenly, the Red Sox came to life and started hitting – by the end of the 3rd, the Red Sox scored 3 runs. The Rays still had a chance to win the game, even when Burke Badenhop gave up a run in the 4th, leading to the Red Sox 4-1 lead. But the Rays never hit the ball. Every year it is the same thing, the Rays can’t hit. The batting averages are one of the lowest in baseball and the games the Rays have lost, it is usually because the Rays scored one or less runs (ask David Price, he did not receive much run support last year). The bottom of the line-up is a guaranteed three outs. Nothing has changed in the past several years. Yes, I understand the Rays are known for their pitching and defense, not for power hitting; but seriously, how many games this year are the Rays going to score 2 or less runs? How many no-hitter games are going to be the highlight reel at night? When is the organization going to address this problem? In 2011, the Rays were shut out 15 times, tying with the Oakland A’s for 2nd in the A.L.; they were only behind the Seattle Mariners. The Rays were held to 2-runs or less 52 times in 2011, meaning the Rays scored 2 or less runs in 32% of the games they played last year.
So with no run support for the second game in a row, the Rays bullpen was called upon. Though Badenhop gave up one run, Wade Davis did not. Davis had his best outing of the season, cruising through the Red Sox line-up. Davis kept the game 4-1 for the Rays, but the bats remained silent. The only hightlight of the game was when Jason Ellsbury attempted to break up a double play, but instead Reid Brignac fell on him, injuring Ellsbury.
O, the other highlight of the game was when Kelly Shoppach stole a base – he slid several feet before the second base and ended up on his face. Find it online if you need a laugh. The sad thing is that Shoppach, who was 100% useless with the Rays for two-years, was the big hero today. He scored runs, hit doubles, actually played as a catcher today. Seriously, where the heck was that when he was with the Rays? Ugh, I just hate him.
Anyways, so the game got super ugly in the 8th inning when Joel Peralta was sent in to pitch. Instead, he failed to find the strike zone. Suddenly, all the anger of the Red Sox players of how Red Sox nation collapsed last year was released. Every single player got to base; there was a wild pitch and several walks given up by Peralta. The Red Sox were smiling for the first time since August 2011. Josh Lueke, who I do not like because of his past history, was sent in to end the inning. Instead, it went on until the Red Sox were winning 12-1. The last time Rays gave up 12 runs to Boston was on 9/6/2010. O, Ben Zobrist, one of the very few players who decided to show up today, hit a homerun in the 9th, making it 12-2.
What I Like:
- Shoppach falling on his face after his stolen base
- Ben Zobrist scoring two runs today; Zobrist has to be one of the most dependable guys. He may not be a power hitter like Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, but he still gets a goo number of hits every year.
- Wade Davis: Davis has being pitching about average so far this season but he was on fire in this game. It was 1-2-3 out nearly every inning he pitched.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Kelly Shoppach: The former Ray decided to play baseball after two years of not participating in the game. He reached base four times, with three hits and one walk. He purposely got hit, which just ruined everything (David Price just said he leaned in on the post-game interview so I’m not crazy). According to Tampa Bay Times on Twitter, Shoppach had two 3-hit games and no 3-run games with the Rays. Today, he had 3 hits and scored 3 runs against him. I should of booed him harder last year.
- Losing to the Red Sox: The Rays always beat the Red Sox, a team filled with chicken-loving, beer-drinking players. Hopefully, the Rays win the rest of the Series so I can go back to making fun of them.
- Rays not hitting…again.
Anyways, Rays should rebound from this and go off to the playoffs so really there isn’t too much concern. But, if the Rays want to win the World Series, they need to start hitting the ball. The Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Angels, Phillies, and Cardinals are all known for hitting so there is no way the Rays can win games against these playoff teams by scoring 2 runs or less. Its crazy to think that all the pitchers should not give up a single run every game.
O, Alex Rodriquez is now tied with Ken Griffey Jr. with homeruns. But, I don’t care because A-Roid is a cheater and probably has no testicles because of all the years he abused steroids.
In 2010, it was common knowledge amongst baseball spectators that one of the best Tampa Bay Rays players in its history, Carl Crawford, was leaving after spending eleven years with the Rays organization due to a cut in the payroll. When Crawford was up at bat for the last time against the Texas Rangers, all of Tampa Bay went into despair, knowing that he would be wearing a new uniform the next year.
It was rumored Crawford would be joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team the Rays modeled their speed strategy after. It would be a perfect fit for the speedy Crawford. Angels’ outfielder Tori Hunter even joked about helping Crawford pick out a house. Then the news broke during the offseason that Crawford signed a $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox? The Rays’ most hated rival? The team filled with hot-headed egos? All of Tampa Bay erupted into anger; how could Crawford do that to the city that was his home for years?
But as months passed, many Rays fans started to forgive Crawford. After all, he played when the Rays were horrible and he helped take them to the post season twice. And out of all baseball players, Crawford deserved the $142 million? Of course he would not receive a happy welcome back at his first at-bat in Tropicana Field; but in time, maybe it was possible it would be forgiven. Then, Crawford started talking. He talked about how he always thought his son was a secret Red Sox fan. He talked about how amazing Red Sox’s fan base was. He talked about how excited he was to finally play in a stadium that would be filled with fans. Ouch.
Then something funny happen; some may call it karma, others may call it life, but baseball fans call it the baseball gods. Throughout the 2011 baseball season, Crawford had a hard time batting, stealing bases, and making big offense plays. He finished the year batting .255 and stole only 18 bases; in 2010, he was batting .307 and stole 47 bases. Meanwhile, Desmond Jennings, the Rays’ new outfielder called up after the All-Star break, finished the year batting .266 with 19 stolen bases. Whenever Crawford entered the batter’s box, Fenway Park filled with boos. Due to his poor hitting, Crawford was demoted to batting eighth in the line-up in hopes that he would magically start batting again. It never happened.
Though ESPN, Crawford started a monthly blog so he could become closer to the Red Sox fans. On his last entry dated September 19th, Crawford discussed how he is booed and heckled when he returns to Tropicana Field. During the next offseason, he would be inspired to workout harder because of them. Crawford is whining about the wrong crowd. Current Ray’s player Johnny Damon is booed in Boston AND New York since he used to play for both teams, yet he does not complain about his old teams’ fanbases. Yet, Crawford was complaining about the people who bought his jerseys the year before and who used to cheer for him when he made a catch. He’s complaining about the fans he badmouthed earlier in the year; did he really think all of Tampa would forget his unnecessary comments and forgive him? In his blog, Crawford also apologized to the Red Sox fans for his poor performance. After all, he claimed, the Red Sox fans were very supportive to him. Apparently Crawford does not hear the fans boo him when his name is called to bat or read any newspapers or websites based in Boston that complain about his performance. Crawford ended his blog saying how if the Rays made a comeback and made it to the playoffs instead of the Red Sox, he would be devastated
On September 28th, both the Red Sox and Rays knew they had to win against their respected opponents or they would be sent home. Red Sox were beating the Baltimore Orioles and were down to the final out and the final pitch. Then Nolan Reimold doubled, tying the game. The winning run was on second base; a base hit would allow the Orioles to win the game. Robert Andino was next at bat. Jonathon Papelbon threw the ball, Andino swung the bat, and the ball went to left field. For some reason, Crawford did not catch the ball. By the time he threw it to home plate, it was too late. The Orioles won. As the Red Sox walked into their clubhouse, they sat around the television, praying that the New York Yankees would beat the Rays. Too their surprise, Evan Longoria hit a homerun, winning the game in extra innings. Longoria hit a homerun over the small fence in left field; the fence that was purposely lowered to allow Crawford to make catchers while he was with the Rays…
How strange is it is that it was Crawford who allowed the Orioles to win while his former team won their game minutes later, sending the Red Sox packing. Those baseball gods have a real sense of humor.
Carl Crawford Carl Crawford Diary ESPN
I am starting to wish that the Rays baseball game was postponed due to rain so the Rays would in first place alone. Anyways, the Rays’ offense was just horrible AGAIN!!! Detroit’s record
is was 23-23, so they are only a decent team, yet the Rays found a way to lose to them 6-3.
How can Maddon not play Joyce???
So I saw the line-up and noticed that A.L. leading batter Matt Joyce was not in the line-up due to a lefty pitching. Joyce is hitting .385 against right-handed pitchers, but only .158 against left-handed pitchers. Meanwhile, Felipe Lopez is hitting .240 against left-handed pitchers. When Lopez was subbing for Longoria, he did not bat well or play defense well. I understand that Joyce isn’t super amazing against left-handed pitchers, but that is because Maddon gets the Rays players all freaked out against lefties. Instead of keeping the same players in, like most teams, he rearranges the line-up and moves players around. It is common knowledge that the Rays can’t bat against lefties; in my opinion it is because they are told they can’t. Rays coaches need to stop making a big deal about going against a lefty and let players build up their averages against lefties.
In the 4th inning, the Rays had bases loaded, 1 out but could not bring them in- thanks to Shoppach and Lopez striking out. Who knows what could have happened if the Rays blew that came out of proportion.
In the 6th inning, Detroit was batting with 2 outs and one on second. Cabrera singled to right and Joyce made this amazing throw to home plate, but for some reason Shoppach was several feet in front of the plate. By the time he made it back to home, Boesch already scored. Seriously, Shoppach is the only catcher in MLB that does not try to block the runner. If Shoppach just stood on the line between third and home, the runner would have been forced to make a turn and Shoppach could have tagged him. Even if Shoppach didn’t get an out, at least he would have looked like he was doing his job.
So the Rays kept the game 2-1 (Detroit had 2) until the bottom of the 8th. J.P. Howell gave up a walk and a hit, but struck one out. Of course as soon as the pitcher gets an out, Maddon calls him back in. Howell was replaced by Cruz, who ended up throwing a wild pitch, walking Cabrera, and allowing Martinez to double, scoring 2 runs. Then Dirks was intentionally walked, so of course Peralta singles, scoring 2 runs. Cruz was replaced by Ramos to get the final out.
Pitcher Helickson: though he has good stuff, he uses a large number of pitches to get batters out.
Bullpen: failed to keep the game close today
B.J Upton: scored the only run in the game due to a sac-fly by Longo. Though he struck out, as usual, he made an amazing double play in the 5th inning. He managed to walk in the ninth.
Damon: Had 2 hits today against his former team. Had a lead-off double at one point, but Rays failed to bring him in.
Longoria: hit a sac-fly to drive in a run, but he still isn’t coming up with important bats. He’s batting .221 now.
Zobrist: had 1 hit, but didn’t do too much today.
Rodriquez: walked in the 4th.
Lopez: Don’t know why he played today. He’s only hitting .213. He played first base, though we do have Kitchman who is batting .3498.
*Kotchman: only had 1-at-bat, don’t know why he wasn’t playing.
Shoppach: struck out in the 4th when it mattered most. Only got on when he was hit by a pitch. He’s only batting .222 against lefties and .118 against righties.
*Jaso: walked and scored a run in the ninth. He’s batting .375 against lefties and .195 against righties. I don’t know why he wasn’t starting today since his stats are better than Shoppach’s.
*Joyce: Singled and scored a run in the ninth.
Fuld: singled to right and scored two runs in the ninth.
*players that pinch-hitted
Also, Brignac’s grandfather died so keep him and his family in your prayers.
Boston Red Sox was leading Cleveland Indians, 2-1, but allowed 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th. In the top of the 9th, Red Sox had Drew on third and Lowrie on first with one out, but former Ray, Crawford, hit into a double play. Crawford is still making big plays for the Rays.