A very good friend of mine had a baby just the other day. Saturday morning, in fact.
What was the new lad’s name?
The Rays came out of the weekend with just that, a tie, in the ALDS. And now they are going to play a Game 5 to decide which team, the Rays or Rangers, gets to move on to take on the Yankees in the ALCS this weekend.
It is like ALDS Game 1 all over again.
The Rays will, once again, send the ace of the pitching staff to the mound in a “saviour-like” position.
David Price choked in Game 1, coming out on the short end of a 5-1 loss. And it wasn’t that close. Sure, the hitters stunk it up, but one thing the Rays have to depend on is strong starting pitching. They feed off of it.
Price did not give it.
The fear sets in when I think about Cliff Lee and how damn good he is. Going back to last postseason when he was with the Phillies, there have been few pitchers as dominant as Lee. The Rays will have their hands full.
But, if you remember mid-August, the Rays beat Lee 6-4. It was no fluke. The Rays hitters can wait him out before striking at just the right moment.
But the right moment has to come along with the game still in question. If the moment comes along when the game is 6-1, then it will be much too late.
What gets me is that Game 5 is EXACTLY the same as Game 1.
I’m just as amped up as Game 1. I want to see a W. But a L means alot more Tuesday night, for sure.
The crowd will be going crazy. The Rays have opened up all of the seats in the stadium for this one.
I hope they hand out towels…
What is a little disappointing is that the momentum the Rays had going into Game 4 seemed to wane as the game progressed. I would even say that it shifted to the Rangers, as they put up two late runs.
If the big Mo did shift to the Rangers, that just means that it evened everything out.
Longo’s still hitting lights out. Pena still has the cycle fresh on his mind. And the ‘pen, well, they are still just as dominant.
The team that constructively builds on its emotion will be the winners Tuesday night.
Man, I hope it is my Rays.
The 3 Keys to a W
#1–Be Patient. Just like in Game 1, the Rays have to pile up the pitches against Cliff Lee. They let the guy cruise in Game 1. And they struck out 10 times–ridiculous. They need to work the count and get their walks going, something they did well over the weekend.
#2–Don’t Choke. The big moment in Game 1 was an early bases loaded moment that saw Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli strike out to end any kind of threat. After that, Lee settled in. The Rays cannot miss the big moments of Game 5.
#3–Be Smart, Joe. It is hard to argue with Joe Maddon. He is a big reason for why the Rays have made the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years. But I’m going to choke on my soda pop if he puts out the same ridiculous lineup he put out in Games 1 and 2. Go with what works. And what works is the lineups he put out over the weekend.
Obviously, I have no idea how this game will go down. As I sit here, I am buzzing with anticipation that typically comes in an elmination game, but moreso because of one major fact.
It it MY team in this elmination game.
Win or lose, I’ll be proud that my boys fought back into this series.
Win, and I’ll be jumping like an idiot with jubilation.
Lose, and I’ll be quietly angry that they played so poorly in Games 1 and 2.
No matter what, I’ll know one thing.
I won’t have to miss work to see the game.
Finally the Tampa Bay Rays showed up in the 2010 ALDS.
Through Games 1 and 2 there was some team on the field playing against the big league Texas Rangers, but it surely wasn’t the Rays.
This imposter team had put up one measley run and only 8 hits in two games while giving up 11 runs AT HOME, no less.
Apparently, the REAL Rays were waiting in Arlington, Texas.
2 home runs.
Now THAT’s Rays baseball.
Emotions Were High
Around my home, the stress and worry levels were really high. We were wondering if we were about to see the final game of the Rays season. The final game of Carl Crawford’s career in a Rays uni.
There’s going to be at least one more.
What was great to see was while MY emotions were out of whack, the Rays’ were not.
There was Matt Garza calmly rebounding from an early run given up to retire Ranger after Ranger.
There was Joe Maddon keeping his temper in check, even after a few blown calls by the umpires tonight (seriously, blue, you didn’t see Elvis Andrus come off the bag on his stolen base attempt while Jason Bartlett had the tag on him? Seriously?).
This game was tight until the 9th, so the cooler head was going to prevail.
The cooler head and the guy with the bigger bat.
Luckily, that was the Rays on both account.
What was awesome to see was the Rays in the dugout messin’ around as they did all season long.
Watching Evan Longoria with a waterbottle holder on his shoulder, mimicking a cameraman’s pose, “film” the goings-on of the 9th inning. The guys around him were cracking up and suddenly everything was loose.
The Rays were back.
The Rays Were Clutch
There were many events in this game that epitomized the Rays season, without which the Rays would be headed back to St. Pete with their heads held low.
–Carl Crawford had two big catches in the game, keeping the Rangers in check and preventing run-starting rallies.
–John Jaso had the biggest hit of the game in the 8th against the Rangers’ closer. Why isn’t this guy starting every game?
–The slumping and sub-Mendoza-line Carlos Pena took one down the right field line to drive in pinch runner Desmond Jennings with the game-tying run. Then Pena knocked one over the fence in the 9th to ice the game away.
–In addition to CC’s defense, Crawford hit a big home run in the 9th to put the Rays up 4-2 and take the pressure off of Pena. The loss of pressure made it just that much easier for the big first baseman to take one over the fence.
3 Keys to a W
#1 Emotion–The Rays kept theirs in check AND loosened up the dugout in the process. Look out Rangers.
#2 Hit–11 hits and 6 runs make it clear that the bats were warmed up tonight.
#3 Patience–Colby Lewis did not walk a whole lot of guys this season. He walked 5 Rays tonight. That helped to put more pressure on the young righty, and it helped the Rays to a W.
3 out of 3 Keys Turned = W
Game 4 is tomorrow.
How will it go?
If the Rays performance today is any indication, the Rangers have alot to worry about. They needed to put these guys away today.
The Rays can be really streaky, and the losing streak appears to be over.
This could be it.
Like all Rays fans, this Saturday is not quite a day for resting. We have been on the edge of our seats since the final out of the disasterous Game 2 in St. Pete when the Rays went down with a whimper, 6-1.
So the anticipation is about to reach a fever pitch.
(Good movie, by the way, even if it IS about the Red Sox)
Joe Maddon will trot out our last gasp in the form of righty Matt Garza.
This guy should give the Rays a great chance to take a necessary step towards Game 5. He has had great success in the playoffs, winning the ALCS MVP against the Red Sox in 2008, but the pressure will never have been greater for the guy.
They will go up against Colby Lewis (a guy who helped me to my second fantasy baseball championship this season, by the way). Lewis was a game under .500 (12-13) on the season, but his ERA was at 3.72.
What worries me most is that he struck out nearly 200 hitters (196). That bodes ill for the Rays, who led the league in Ks.
The only number that matters today, though, is runs. The Rays need to give up one less than the Rangers.
The Rays will trot out the type of lineup that has helped them win 96 games this season.
I’m happy with this lineup, no matter the handed-ness of the guy on the opponents’ mound. These guys know how to look for good pitches and how to work the count.
Upton and Bartlett at the bottom of the lineup help Joe’s boys get some production from the latter third of lineup leading back to Jaso at the top.
I love it.
3 Keys to a W
1–Emotion. It might be said too much, but Matty needs to keep his mind in the game. He dominated the Rangers at the Trop this year, but he was roughed up in Texas. That can’t happen. But it can’t be just Garza who keeps emotion in check. Hear me, Joe?
2–Hit. ‘Nuff said. 8 hits in two games stinks.
3–Be Patient. Honestly, Lewis does not walk alot of guys (65 this year). But the Rays know how to walk. They have to get him to miss the zone throughout the game and they have to get to the Rangers’ ‘pen early.
I don’t know how this is going to turn out.
Like most of the country, though, I know that we haven’t seen the best of the Rays yet in this series. It would be a shame for them to go out of the postseason without showing MLB fans just how good this team really is.
I’ll be on the edge of my seat throughout the game.
Nervous for sure.
What a great day. It was amazing.
What a horrible day. It was amazingly terrible.
It was that kind of a day. Exhilerating and frustrating. A sea of conflicting emotions.
The Rays took it on the chin today against the Texas Rangers, 5-1. They deserved the loss in every possible way. They came out lethargic on the mound, lazy in the field, and uninspired at the plate.
David Price was clearly outdueled by Cliff Lee, as Davey gave up runs in four consecutive innings. Forget about the unearned runs, Price looked as bad as the 5-1 loss did. He labored through his outing and ended up giving up 2 home runs (Nelson Cruz crushed one while Bengie Molina put one in the left field bleachers as well) and no chance to his fellow mates.
It isn’t as if he was helped in the field, though.
Evan Longoria had several poor throws to first base, one of which skipped by a terrible Carlos Pena for a key error in the game. Another throw from Jason Bartlett also got by Pena, eventually leading to a run.
At the plate, sheesh.
The Rays struck out 13 times.
In a playoff game, no less.
Pena had three of those K’s, one that came looking early in the game when the Rays had the bases loaded. BJ Upton and Rocco Baldelli struck out twice each to help lead the team to their Game 1 loss.
There are alot of things that make me angry about this game.
I’m going to remember the fun I had, though. I loved cheering on my boys. I loved hanging out with my wife and my buddies during our pre-game tailgate. Those things are what I’ll take away from today.
I certainly hope that the Rays will take some positives away from today as well and find a way to get a big W during tomorrow’s inexplicable daytime playoff game. Thanks MLB.
Keys to the Game
#1 David Price needs to give 6 strong innings. That surely did not happen. Price might have gotten little support at the plate and in the field, but he brought alot of the grief on himself. The team paid for it.
#2 Make Lee work. Nope, no good there. He cruised today. At times it looked like the Rays hitters were swinging at anything that was thrown, forget whether it was near the plate or not. They managed 5 hits against the guy all day long.
#3 Capitalize with a capital C. Again, no good. They had runners in scoring position all day long. Early in the game, the Rays had the bases loaded with one out. Pena struck out looking and Baldelli looked terrible in his inning-ending K.
0/3 Keys Turned = LOSS
Maddon’s Lineup Decisions…
I’m getting tired, so I’ll keep this part short.
What the hell, Joe?
Barlett leading off? He hasn’t done that much over the last week or so at all. So why do it now? I know he hits lefties fairly well, but Bartlett hasn’t been right all season long.
Baldelli starting? Why? A few months ago he was an advisor with the team. A month ago he was at Single A. And now he starts Game 1? I don’t get it. And you bat him above Zobrist, who you hit 7th?
It was yet another strange lineup put forth by an unconventional manager. If it worked, nobody would have cared. But it didn’t.
Tomorrow it begins.
I know, that sounds a little overdramatic. As if it is something from a bad Michae Bay movie. But for me tomorrow is a huge day.
ALDS Game 1.
I’m going to see how many times I can naturally work that phrase into this post.
My Rays played 162 games in order to put themselves in position to play ALDS Game 1. It is a pretty prestigious place to be, considering so many other MLB teams wish they could be right here.
When I got my postseason ticket order form a while back, I didn’t have to consider much about whether or not I would be buying a package.
Of course I would.
And now I am giddy with excitement, anticipating getting into the car tomorrow morning and heading out to the Trop for a little tailgating and a little ALDS Game 1.
I’m meeting some friends in the parking lot (my wife will be showing up shortly afterwards) for a little fun in the brisk morning sun (we’ve been getting as low as the mid-50s in the morning–sweet!) before walking inside the Trop to watch our boys take on the Texas Rangers and the vaunted lefty, Cliff Lee.
I cannot wait.
I picked up my “playoff” hat over this past weekend. You know, the bRAYzer hat that is all the rage in the area these days.
It is pretty sweet, in a totally dorky and geeky way.
Hey, it’s the playoffs!
Hey, it’s ALDS Game 1.
The Rays are sending none other than 2010 Cy Young candidate and 2008 rookie postseason phenom David Price to the bump to take on an amazing pitcher for Texas, Cliff Lee.
Both are lefties and both are the aces of their respective staffs.
They matched up in early August for what many considered the game of the year. It wasn’t bad. The Rays ended up winning that one 6-4 when they rallied (I had started getting ready for bed–I’m not old…just tired) improbably against Lee.
When you look at each guy’s numbers, you have to be impressed. But what is worrisome is when you see that Price is winless in four starts against the Rangers with a ******** 7.45 ERA!!!
However, Price is in a spot where he has thrived in the past. I think he’ll thrive again tomorrow.
Keys to Victory
The Rays won the season series agianst the Rangers 4-2, winning the last four games they played against Texas.
What is even more awesome is that they swept the Rangers at the Trop, where ALDS Game 1 takes place tomorrow afternoon.
So here’s what our Boys in Blue need to do to get a win in ALDS Game 1.
Price Price Baby! He’s got to give the Rays 6 strong. Not kinda good, but strong. Any starter who gets knocked around in game 1 of any playoff series ends up depleting his bullpen and lowering hope for the rest of the series. So Price needs to come out and set the tone.
Make Lee Work. If the Rays go out and flail away at Lee’s fastball or slider, then they’ll have a long night. It is no secret that this team is the worst when it comes to striking out. The only thing that helps them is that they are #1 in walks too! Patience, boys…
Capitalize with a Capital C! When the situation presents itself, and it will, the Rays have to take advantage. When they get that runner on third base with less than 2 outs, they have to bring him in, yes. But I’m talking about that moment where the game is in the balance and a hit there, or a walk, or a strikeout can shift the game clearly in the Rays favor. We need that.
1:37 Game Time? Seriously?
I almost spit out my Diet Coke when I saw the game times flashed up on the screen on Sunday. I could not believe at all that MLB could be such a–holes and make the BEST team in the American League play in the afternoon while reserving a prime spot for six other teams.
How fair is that?
So now I–along with many other die hard Rays fans–will be taking a day off of work (I even had to cancel a very needed basketball practice) so that we can drive across the bridge to the Trop for ALDS Game 1.
I think that the Rays deserve a lot more respect than they got with this time slot, but, as usual, they will overcome the rest of the doubters and do something very special this postseason–just like in 2008.
Kevin Kennedy Gone
It is with sadness that I report that color analyst Kevin Kennedy has been dismissed from his television duties with the Rays.
Yeah, sad. Uh-huh.
The guy was boring and never met a lame catchphrase he didn’t like.
If I had a nickel for everytime the guy said “Paint” to describe hitting the black on the plate with a great pitch, I wouldn’t have to worry about calling off work to go to tomorrow’s game.
I’d be retired.
He was a good guy, no doubt. I’ll never forget when he subdued the guy on his red-eye flight who was saying crazy terrorist stuff. That was great.
But I couldn’t take it anymore.
Next season it’ll be Dwayne Staats and Brian Anderson calling games. Anderson will bring some serious energy to the broadcast.
That title has so many meanings.
First, it is good to be back. Vacation was great. A week at a resort ain’t bad no matter what.
But, obviously, I have missed alot. Let me check that, I have not written about alot. I have missed nothing.
Second, it seems that “catchin’ up” is exactly what the Rays have been doing. They fought back in this tough division to take the lead by a game, only to fall back out of it before finding themselves back in the thick of it with a few strong games of late.
Here are some of the things I have seen over these last weeks.
The Rays have not given up on this season at all. As I mentioned, they took the division lead a week or so ago, despite a 7-game losing streak. Then, just as soon as they got the lead, they relinquished it to the Yanks again.
Even though they currently sit in 2nd place in the division, they could easily have packed it in. They overcame a mini-losing streak in the last few weeks before getting a nice start from Jeremy Hellickson his last time out (before today). Then they seemed to hit rock bottom, being shut out by the last place Orioles on Friday. Now they have won 2 in a row (again, behind a strong start from Hellickson) and find themselves wrapping up the weekend in the thick of it once again.
One Game Out
The Rays are sitting just one game behind the Yanks.
They are heading into a very difficult series with the AL West division leading Texas Rangers. There will be no easy wins there. The Rangers are as good as it gets, and the Rays will have to be on top of their game if they want to get closer than they already are.
Hellickson is Awesome
How good is this kid?
His win today pushed his record to 3-0. He has given up almost no hits in his starts; specifically, he has not given up more than 3 hits in any of his three starts. And he is still a kid. He has stopped any bad baseball played by the Rays to inspire them to wins in each of his starts this sesaon.
In other words, he is exactly what a contending team needs down the stretch.
DL? What DL?
You would have thought that the Rays would have faltered when 19 wins of their starting rotation left at the exact same time with shoulder injuries.
I know that I was very worried when Jeff Nieman and Wade Davis went on the DL together. However, Andy Sonnanstine and Hellickson have not missed a beat, pitching solid baseball over these last few weeks to bridge the gap to the two starters’ return from their respective ailments.
What’ll Joe Do?
Finally, there are some really important decisions Joe Maddon will have to make in the coming days.
First, he will have to decide what to do once Nieman and Davis return from the DL. Does he replace a hot Hellickson and solid Sonnanstine or does he ride the hot hand and send the incumbant starters to a “rehab” in the minors? You would think that Sonny’s move to the ‘pen is a foregone conclusion–he’s a great spot starter, but it is tough to rely on him longterm–but you really don’t want to send down Hellickson. Tough one.
The other decision will be what to do when Carlos Pena returns from his plantar faciatis issue. Maddon has already said that nobody from the bullpen will be sent down. So, does that mean Dan Johnson’s days are numbered? They might be. He has a ******** .405 OBP, but his average (.125) is pitiful, even when compared with Pena’s.
Caught up. Now let’s get ahead.
Things seem to be blowing up a big in MoTown.
It isn’t end-of-the world type stuff, but it sure feels bad.
Today’s game seems indicative of a team that is losing that killer instinct that playoff teams must have.
The Rays had this one wrapped up.
Then the Tigers unwrapped it.
Jeff Nieman had just completed 7 solid innings. His performance paired with Saturday’s game from David Price gave the Rays back-to-back 7+ inning, quality start outings in Detroit–not the easiest place to win.
While there were runners on, the Rays still had a 3-1 lead and were ready to hand the game over to our awesome Aussie, Grant Balfour.
He got two guys out.
It was the third one that was a little tricky.
Placido Polanco teed off and launched one over the wall to give the Tigers the 4-3 advantage. Fernando Rodney made it hold up in the 9th.
No, it wasn’t a 9th-inning wild pitch, but it was just as jolting.
Aren’t these games the ones we used to win?
Good Starts, Bad Finishes
Today’s game seems to fit in well with the way the Rays have played recently.
Sure, the starting has been somewhat spotty, but it is the relieving that is killing us. And I thought that the bullpen was one of our strong suits in recent weeks.
Today it was Balfour.
Wednesday it was old reliable, JP Howell.
I know we’re talking about two games here, but these are two games that the Rays HAD to have.
Instead, these two wins were transformed into losses, making the Rays playoff squad slowly looking like they are transforming into also-rans.
The Rays came into the last 7 games having gone 6-1 in their previous 7 games.
Things were good. Really good.
Our guys were starting to get hot just when they needed to and no team in the league wanted to play them. They were a playoff team. Taking the wild card was just a formality.
Then something happened when Texas shut us out on a Sunday.
Since then we are 3-4.
What is worse is that up to last Sunday we were in the wild card hunt. We had narrowed the gap to 3-3.5 games.
The Rays stand 5 full games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race, and 2.5 behind the Rangers.
October might be a mere 4 weeks or so away, but it has never felt so far out of reach.
I read the recent MLB.com article about Scott Kazmir and how he felt about being with the Angels. It was a nice fluff piece profiling the newest left coast acquisition.
He sounded happy. He sounded excited. He sounded like he had already forgotten about his time in St. Pete.
When he reference the Rays, he did so to springboard into what he thought his current team could do.
“I got a taste of it last year. You want to go all the way. The Angels are a team that can do it year in and year out. It says a lot about the organization.”
Maybe it says alot about our organization too.