Tagged: Michel Hernandez

Big Mouth in the South: He got the Joba done

   

Despite the hyper Yankee hurler’s resemblance to a certain fish, tonight it was the Rays who were biting.

They were diving after every (seldom used) breaking pitch Joba Chamberlain threw.  They were swinging away at every 89 mph “off speed” pitch that came their way.  And they were simply blown out of the water altogether by every 92+ mph fastball.

It wasn’t pretty.

About as pretty as gutting, well, you get the idea.

The Rays managed only 2 runs on 6 hits tonight.  None of those runs were charged to Joba and only 3 of those hits were his as he went 8 strong innings, striking out 5 and walking only 2. 

It wasn’t the Rays’ night.

It wasn’t the Rays’ series.

Our guys needed a strong showing in this three-game set against the first place Yanks if they wanted to maintain hope at making it two Octobers in a row.  While they fought back valiently to take game two of the series 6-2, the offense failed to show up in the rubber game tonight.  Again.

The only push the Rays gave the Yankees was in the 9th inning when Carl Crawford tripled and Evan Longoria went yard.  The Rays were able to get two on before Mariano Rivera struck out Michel Hernandez to end the game.

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Garza Pitched Well

The Rays wasted a great effort by their ace-in-the-making and devil-in-disguise Matt Garza

MLB Player Photo - Matt Garza   

He almost matched Chamberlain pitch for pitch in his 7 innings of work. 

He was almost awesome baby! 

He was almost a PTP’r!

(note the well-planned and heavily thought out <ahem-lame> espn basketball theme here)

Almost didn’t get us there, though. 

He did allow a triple to Derek Jeter in the 1st (who later scored) and a long ball to Robinson Cano (a strange at bat during which Cano fouled a ball off his shin, had to get looked at by the trainer, before launching one to the right field seats).

Other than those two issues Garza pitched almost as well as he did Friday night against Doc Halladay. 

Except, you know, this time he lost.

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Where’s the O?

It is getting really old.

Seriously.

It seems that unless a Rays starter holds the opposition to 2 runs or fewer they have a tough time winning the ballgame.  God forbid a starter give up <gasp> 3 or 4 runs in a game.  If that happens the game is just simply over.

I know our guys have a tendency to come back.  However, as I have argued again and again, you have to “come back” in two situations:

                1) if your starter gives up too many runs

                2) if your offense scores no runs to begin with

It seems that since the All-Star Break the Rays have had plenty of both.  Even when they win games one of the two caveats above come into play.

It’s getting tired, guys.  It really is.

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Royal Pains (not the tv show)

The Rays can do nothing but look ahead.  (As many of us Rays fans will be doing)

The Kansas City Royals come to town for 4 big games.  I know it is a little melodramatic to call games against the Royals in late July “big”, but they are

A sweep here, or taking 3 of 4, will go a long way towards getting the Rays back into the race. 

Although they lost a game to the Yankees and currently sit 6 1/2 out, they seem to be on the verge of holding serve against the Red Sox (losing last I checked) which would keep the Rays only 4 back of second place and the wildcard spot.

It’s gotta happen now.

Time’s running out.

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Tradin’ Places (or the most overused title to describe trades in mlb)

Lots of trades today.  Some interesting, some we don’t care about, and one that was upsetting a little. 

I would argue that all teams involved today made their teams better.  Except the Pirates.  But then again when did they ever make a move to get better?

I have some ideas on a few moves the Rays should make before Friday’s deadline.  I’m teasing it now for tomorrow’s post just in case it happens overnight. 

Tradin’ post tomorrow (another overused title to describe trades in mlb–sue me!).

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Oh No-No: Buehrle Perfect

Just to preface this post to eliminate any confusion, I started typing this while the game was in the 8th inning and things did not look good for my guys.  I ran with it until the end of the game.  After the game was over, I took some deep breaths, knocked my head against the wall a little bit, and typed the rest of this post.  Enjoy?

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The Rays and White Sox have just completed the top of the 8th inning with Sox hurler Mark Buehrle refusing to give up a hit.  Or a walk.  Or a baserunner.

He has a no-no/perfect game going as they head into the bottom of the 8th and it doesn’t look good for the Rays.

They will sent Gabe Kapler, Michel Hernandez, and Jason Bartlett to the plate in the top of the 9th with the hopes of avoiding being no hit.

If the home plate umpire Eric Cooper continues to give Buehrle 5 inches off the outside part of the plate I don’t see how the Rays will be able to break up this impressive performance by Buehrle. 

(Incidently, Cooper also called the no hitter that Buehrle threw against Texas in 2007, so…)

I’ll let you know how the inning progresses when we get there.

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Top of the 9th (“Live”)

Chicago has moved Podsednik to left and put Wise in center to bolster the defense for Buehrle.

I’m nervous.  Here we go…

Gabe Kapler–HE GAVE IT A RIDE TO LEFT FIELD!!  IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A HOME RUN BUT DEWAYNE WISE JUST ROBBED A HOME RUN!  OH MY GAWD!!!

Michel Hernandez–just struck out.

Jason Bartlett–Ground out to SS. 

Perfect Game is Done!!!!

Much respect to Mark Buehrle on the PERFECT GAME!

(Below: Buehrle with his wife and baby boy)

 

ws mob.jpg

(52-44)
  Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chi White Sox 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 X 5 6 0

WP: M. Buehrle (11-3)
LP: S. Kazmir (4-6)

(bottom graphic from Yahoo! Sports)

(50-45)

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Quick Game Recap

Well, now that I’ve had a few minutes to come in off the ledge and get my wits about me, I just have a few things to say about today’s game.

Mark Buehrle deserved the spoils of his labor today.  He pitched an amazing game, working both sides of the plate and keeping the Rays hitters off balance.  It is tough to give too many kudos to the guy, but he earned his perfect game today.

I would be remiss, however, if I ignored the fact that home plate umpire Eric Cooper was part of helping to keep the Rays off balance today.  As I said earlier, Cooper was giving Buehrle (and Kazmir, by the way) 3-5 inches off the outside part of the plate.  Many “strikes” were just terrible calls.

BUT

Good pitchers realize that and take advantage of that.  Kazmir did not.  Buehrle did.  I’m not taking anything away from the ChiSox pitcher.  He did what a really good pitcher such as him should do. 

Good hitters also adjust.  The Rays did not.  They did not adjust their stances by moving closer to the plate to take away that outside edge nor did they protect against that part of the plate.

Buehrle struck out 6 Rays hitters.  What was more frustrating in this game was that he induced ground ball after ground ball to Alexei Ramirez at short, meaning that the pull-happy right handed Rays hitters were trying to pull everything to the left side of the infield.

The Rays had not been no-hit since 2002 when the OTHER Sox did it to them: Boston’s Derek Lowe.

As I said in an earlier post: I HATE LOSING TO THE SOX.  WHITE, RED, DOESN’T MATTER!

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Left Out

I might save this for a future post, but it is incredibly upsetting that the Rays thought they had upgraded their offense against left handed pitching in the offseason.  It was their Achilles heel last year and really hurt them in the World Series against the Phillies. 

So they got Gabe Kapler and Pat Burrell

Wow, that worked.

The Rays are now 16-21 against lefties this year.  Terrible.

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The Road Ain’t Gettin’ Any Easier

Tampa Bay will head to Toronto today to prepare for a weekend series against the Blue Jays.  Who’s waiting for them there?

Doc Halladay.

Ordinarily I would go into the series with confidence, considering the Rays are 2-0 against him this year.  But coming off a series such as this one, and a perfect game to boot, I am not as thrilled.

Then it will be the New York Yankees for 3 at the start of next week at the Trop.  That is going to be a very difficult series as the Yanks have just dominated teams over the last week plus. 

But it isn’t supposed to be easy.  We’ll see what the Rays have got in the tank the next 6 games.

The AL East, and the Rays’ place in it, will certainly come into more focus over the next week or so. 

Let’s hope the Rays won’t be left behind.

 

In It Til the End: Rays Just Can’t Pull Off Another Comeback

Gawl-ee.  I HATE losing to the Sox.  White, Red, don’t care.  I hate it. 

The Rays and White Sox tried to give everybody in the crowd–and in my home–a heart attack tonight as their battle went right down to the wire. 

“Down to the wire” almost doesn’t do it justice.

The Rays battled throughout the entire game to get to within 1 run.  In the 9th, Bobby Jenks came on to close it out for the Sox.  He got two quick strikeouts and then couldn’t end it.

Three consecutive baserunners reached base, Pat Burrell via a walk, Willy Aybar with a hit to left, and Gabe Gross with a walk.

Jenks could not finish the game!

It was set up for another dramatic Rays victory!  One base hit from our next batter, one of our best batters in Jason Bartlett, would put the Rays up 5-4 and allow JP Howell to close the game for us. 

4 wins in a row were waiting for us.  Right there.

Jenks worked the count to 3-2.  Bartlett fouled off the 6th pitch.  The 7th pitch was wide of the plate.  It was going to be a tie game!!!

But Bartlett swung.

And he missed.

Darn.

What a game.

Meaningful baseball in Tampa Bay in July.  For two consecutive years  Wow.  What HAVE we been missing!?

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The Pitchers

David Price was NOT the David Price we saw defeat Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays 11 days ago by allowing only 1 run in 6 innings while striking out 7 and walking 1.

This David Price went 6 innings, giving up 4 runs, walking 2, and striking out 6.  It was not a terrible performance, but it wasn’t enough to get the Rays the win.

He gave up three home runs to Paul Konerko (no, don’t worry, only one of them was fair) and a few dink and dunk hits here that led to his, and the Rays’, demise. 

 

He was “supported” by the long ball and little else.  The Rays hitters were only able to muster 3 runs, all via the deep fly.

Price was outpitched by the Sox Gavin Floyd.  He went 7 strong innings, striking out 7 Rays and giving up only 3 hits and 3 runs.  Floyd did the job the Rays needed Price to do.  He bent, but didn’t break. 

Price bent, and started to splinter a little bit.

The Rays bullpen did its usual amazing job, giving up no runs in the final 2 innings.  In their last 4 games the ‘pen has allowed only 1 run.  Not too bad.  This bullpen has certainly been a strength for the club, as it stands at the best in the Americna League and third best in the Majors. 

It’s a shame it is getting used so much.

One disturbing stat is that the Sox were able to get the leadoff man on in 6 of the 8 innings they hit.  Those types of numbers almost always lead to a fat L.

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The Hitters

The Rays were able to put together only 3 hits while Price was in the ballgame.  Granted, they were of the home run variety, but 3 hits in 6 innings is something for an opposing pitcher to be proud of, not hitters. 

Ben Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 10 games (way to go Ben!) with a dinger in the 2nd innings.  And boy did he hit it.

 

Carl Crawford put his own spin on the home run ball by slicing a ball deep into right field.  Scott Podsednik jumped the fence (guess he was trying to do his best Carl Crawford At The All Star Game impression) and the ball ricocheted back into center field. 

That’s all CC needed. 

He turned up the motors and raced around for his first inside-the-park home run since April of 2005.  In the dugout he was sweating buckets, but smiling nonetheless.

Our reigning Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria, rounded out the Rays’ scoring by simply LAUNCHING one into the left field seats.  The ball was high and got out of there in a hurry.  That made it 4-3 and gave all Rays fans hope that another comeback was on the way.

Alas, it was not to be.

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The Defense–or, WHY IS WILLY PLAYING 2ND BASE!?

Strangely, the defense was a big disappointment tonight.  Sure, all of the White Sox’s runs tonight were earned.  But the Rays had 3 errors, with Willy Aybar in the middle of them all.  Surely, part of the reason is that Willy was playing second base tonight.

In the 1st inning Scott Podednik stole second.  Michel Hernandez’s throw was a little bit in the dirt and skipped into center field.  Podsednik went to third base and eventually scored the game’s first run.

Where was the backup when the ball skipped by Jason Bartlett?  Willy was standing there, but he didn’t field the ball.  Hernandez got the error, but Aybar could have helped.

Early in the game Aybar couldn’t dig the ball out of his mitt to turn an important double play.  This allowed the Sox to score another run later in the inning.

In the 7th, Aybar outdid himself.

The situation was tense because Grant Balfour was trying to work out of a jam.  He got the ground ball he needed for the first out of the inning from Alexei Ramirez.  Aybar booted it.  Podsednik moved to third and suddenly the Rays had runners at the corners with nobody out.

The next batter was Jermaine Dye.  Balfour induced a foul ball fly from Dye, something that could be fielded for the 1st out of the inning.  Dye has been mashing the ball as of late, after all.  So this was a big play!

Willy overran it. 

Luckily, Dye struck out on the next pitch.  Balfour then got Konerko to ground into an inning-ending double play that Aybar WAS able to get out of his mitt.

For every Aybar mishap, though, there was Zobrist in right holding a runner at third on a fly ball because of his rifle arm and Longoria diving towards the third base line to snag a grounder and step on third to prevent another run from scoring.

Aybar did not do us any favors tonight, though.

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Three Keys to the Game

Price’s pitch count and pace.  YEP/NOPE.  Price worked at a decent pace at the start of the game, but slowed considerably in the 2nd and 3rd innings.  That was when things got hairy and the pitch count mounted.  He was out by the end of the 6th.

Play Raysball–run, take pitches, scratch out runs.  NOPE.  The Rays played LONGball, with the White Sox actually taking a page out of the Rays handbook and running and scratching out runs.

Get to the bullpen early.  NOPEFloyd went 7 strong and then the Sox were able to turn it over to their effective setup guys (22 holds between them!) and closer (22 saves!).

2 1/2 out of 3 NOPES=Loss 

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What a game.  You almost didn’t mind losing one like this because it was so entertaining! 

Almost.

The road will not get easier from here as the Rays take on three straight lefties in the next three games.  The Rays are 15-19 against lefties.

Nobody said it would be easy, did they?

(Happy Birthday Jen

A Blah End to the First Half

BLAH!

I don’t want to get too deep into the disappointing loss yesterday.  I am going to take Canuck’s advice at The Watercooler and try to take a break from things.  I think the Rays Republic needs it.

Yesterday was another one of those typical Rays games where things looked great–then went to heck.

 

James Shields put together a stellar game for 6 1/3 innings.  He was setting them up and knocking them down.  His pace was fast and his pitches were effective.  The Oakland A’s hitters were swinging at first or second pitches the entire game and Shields was getting ground out after ground out.  He was not walking anybody and his command was impeccable.

So what happened?

It wasn’t as if the defense let him down.  Ben Zobrist, playing right field (which should be his future position in my opinion), gunned down a runner at the plate in the first inning.  Michel Hernandez was calling a great game and was throwing guys out trying to steal (at least when the umpires were calling it right). 

Offensively the Rays were scuffling a little, but they had put up 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th with some timely hitting. 

So what was the deal yesterday?

It was a combination of things.  Things that were out of the hands of Shields and many of the players on the team.

First, let’s talking umpiring.  Now, you won’t hear many complaints about umpires here at Cowbell.  I am a big fan of human error and not of computer call enhancement.  I like when I can argue about a missed call on a strike, a home run, or a foul ball.  That is what makes baseball fun and I hope we never lose that.

But that call of safe on an A’s base stealer in the 8th was ridiculous.  Hernandez threw Matt Holliday out by a clear foot, yet he was called safe at second.  What resulted?  The A’s proceeded to put up 3 runs in the frame.  The entire complexion of the game was changed and James was chased. Over one bad call.

Longo was called out on a strikeout when his foul ball had clearly hit the ground first.  He stood there exasperatedly trying to tell the home plate umpire that, but he was getting nowhere fast.  That ended what could have been a Rays threat in the 7th.

5/30 Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays Manager by jonathon.

And Joe Maddon’s managing in the game was not his best.  He brought in Dan Wheeler to replace Shields in the 6th with 1 out and 2 on to face Jack Cust.  Cust is 2-13 against Shields, but 2-3 against Wheeler.  What happened?  Cust gets a hit and an RBI. 

Maddon then brings in lefty Randy Choate to face lefty Adam Kennedy (boy he’s killed us, hasn’t he?  Makes you wonder if we had him at 2B and Z in RF).  Kennedy had just homered against Choate the night before.  So what happened?  Kennedy gets another hit.

Those things were disappointing, to say the least.  To be let down by those who are “in charge” of the game is something that is almost unforgiveable. 

However, let’s not forget that while the Rays capitalized when they could offensively, they did only score 3 runs.  I mentioned in a previous post how Shields had only received more than 3 runs of support in 8 of his 18 starts this season.  Well, let’s make it 8 out of 19 starts now.

The All-Star Break is here.  And not too soon.  Let’s see if our guys can get some R&R and put this latest 2-game losing streak behind them. Let’s forget about how we could have gained 2 games on the Yankees this weekend.  Let’s forget about our inconsistency in our pitching and hitting.

Let’s just enjoy watching some baseballs get the stuffing knocked out of them into the St. Louis night sky and yell for our Carlos Pena

Let’s get ready for the second half.  It is going to be a doosie!