Most amazing baseball night of my life.
I just got a story to tell my son about the first Rays season of his life.
Stories for kids and grandkids.
So thankful to be a baseball fan.
So happy to be a Rays fan.
Kids take alot of time. Totally worth it…
So what will the Rays do as the trade deadline looms?
It seems that the Tampa Bay franchise is best when it avoids the big deal at the deadline. The deals that make this team what is has been for the last four years or so are the deals that go unnoticed by the MLB public at large. The Rays will likely end up picking up a guy off the waiver list and stand pat with what they have.
But, just in case…
WHO IS LIKELY GOING?
BJ Upton has already called the trade rumors about him “comical.” It’s true. A trade rumor about BJ is like all of the foreclosed houses in the area–omnipresent and depressing.
He’s a big talent, of course. But he hasn’t utilized that talent at all, which makes him expendable. Plus, he’s apt to make about $7 million in arbitration next year.
That REALLY makes him expendable.
The best rumor I’ve heard is that he would go to the Nationals (they are doing things right in DC, aren’t they?) for their SS Ian Desmond and a catcher. I’m a big fan of Desmond–of his speed, his power, and his youth. Not many teams have strength at the SS position, so brining him to St. Pete would be great.
Let’s not forget that the Rays have Desmond Jennings, who is hitting .500 right now, primed to take BJ’s place.
Oooooo, things do not look good for the underachieving Upton.
James Shields has had a TON of rumors about him. The Reds seem to be the frontrunners in the “Big Game” sweepstakes. However, I do not see the Rays, a team who is so shrewd when it comes to storing pitching, moving him. His price next season will be $7 million, just like BJ, but that money for a solid #2 pitcher is much smarter to use than on a center fielder.
JP Howell has made a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery a few years ago, but he is not all the way back. Nevertheless, there are suitors for the left-handed reliever. They say that the Royals might want him back, but who wouldn’t want a strong lefty with a wicked curve in their bullpen?
LIKELIHOOD: Could Happen
Kyle Farnsworth has had a renaissance this season, becoming the closer the Rays thought they had lost when Rafael Soriano left town for the New York Yankees last season. He would fetch a pretty penny on the market. With the Rays falling out of the race, they can afford to experiment in the closer department. Since Farnsie would ask for much more money next season, the Rays likely would not be able to afford him. So…
The bottom line is that the Rays listen to deals on all of its players. Jeremy Hellickson has been mentioned in trades, but there is no way he’s going anywhere. That doesn’t mean the Rays won’t listen.
Tomorrow will be a big day. 4 pm Eastern Time is the drop dead time, and it will be fun to guess about who is going where. Unfortunately, for Rays fans, anyway, no matter what deals are done they will not lead to October.
But next season, who knows…
The Rays did it.
I’m just feeling great right now.
Seeing the boys spray the champagne and beer. Watching Don Zimmer get doused with champagne by BJ Upton. Seeing Matt Garza with his diving mask on.
These are memories.
You start off the season hoping your team will be good enough to be one of the final 8 teams after 162 games.
When it happens, it is tough to put into words.
The Rays aren’t supposed to be here. It’s supposed to be the Yankees and Red Sox. The Rays are supposed to be small market also-rans.
And here they are clinching a playoff berth.
And here they are watching the Minnesota Twins struggle against the Kansas City Royals, hoping to get that much closer to the best record in the AL and home field advantage throughout the AL side of the playoffs.
It’s tough to explain.
Joe Maddon said it best when he said that 2008 was pandemonium and 2010 is more controlled.
I agree to an extent.
I’m happy. I’m ecstatic.
But I’m not just happy to be here.
I want to see the boys do something. I want to see them win the Series. 2008 was a time when we were happy to be there and kept getting more and more surprised with each playoff win.
But it seems that in 2010 there is a job to do.
I’m blown away.
I have chills.
And I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Great job, Rays.
Thanks for giving your fans a hell of a year.
This might sound dumb, but I wanted to say THANKS to those who have continued to stop by the blog. I have stopped by your blogs too, but have not really had the time to leave comments as I usually do.
I have had alot going on these days–who doesn’t, right?–and I have let my blogging duties lapse. I miss it, and I hope that when things settle down for me I’ll be able to get more involved with talking baseball with all of you great folks.
Thanks for being a great ‘sphere…
Man, this is quite a season.
I don’t think it compares with 2008, to be honest, because that season was a season of “firsts” all over the place. This year has a “been there, done that” feel while infusing every game with a new kind of enthusiasm.
No longer is it, ” I hope.”
Now, it is “I expect.”
Who knew that would happen?
The Rays took on the Red Sox last week. Sure, the series did not go as Rays fans would have liked, but it wasn’t a sweep. And, to be honest, seeing the Sox 7 1/2 games in the rearview mirror (along with their pale hosed counterparts from Chicago) makes any loss to Boston totally endurable.
But to follow that big series with a much BIGGER series against the Yanks, well, let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have a heart condition.
It’s getting tough to take!
Tonight’s game has been simply amazing. CC Sabathia and David Price have shown why they are two of the top candidates in the Cy Young race. So far, each pitcher has absolutely shut down the other’s vaunted offense.
(Currently, the Rays have first and second with 1 out in the 8th)
What is at stake in this series–heck, in this GAME?
No less than first place.
Man, I love baseball.
Watching these two teams battle as they have tonight, go pitch by pitch, at bat by at bat, has been a delight one can get from few other endeavors.
Forget the football on ESPN. I have my main event right here.
I don’t know how this series will go.
But, I will tell you that I don’t HOPE the Rays will win.
I EXPECT it.
Isn’t that what happens when you believe in your boys?
What a game.
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.
I don’t know how today’s game will go.
What I do know is that over the course of July, the Rays have been playing as well as they have all season long.
And that is saying something.
Heading into Interleague play, back in June, the Rays sat with a supberb record of 32-12. They were 20 games over .500 and playing the best baseball in the league. They were the talk of the league and considered a shoo-in for the playoffs.
Then disaster hit.
The Rays became human.
They started to lose at a Devil Rays-esque pace. Over the course of 30 games the Rays won only 12, falling out of first place in the AL East, out of the wildcard spot in the AL, and into the spot they finished in last season: 3rd.
It was heartbreaking.
Then something weird happened.
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!!
In the final game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, BJ Upton pulled a, well, BJ Upton, and loafed after a ball in the gap.
After being called out by Evan Longoria on his lack of hustle, BJ threw a temper tantrum.
Upton was removed from the starting lineup for the next handful of games, something that BJ and manager Joe Maddon said was because of injury, but the rest of the fans with any baseball acumen knew was an unpublished suspension.
And the Rays took off.
BACK ON PACE
Since the fight, the Rays have gone 9-3 against some of the better competition in the league, the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, and a team they SHOULD beat, the Cleveland Cav-, um, Indians.
A win today will move the Rays to 54-34, right back to where they were about a little over a month ago.
20 games over .500 again.
They would have the second best record in the AL and (possibly) get to within 1 game of first place, behind the New York Yankees.
Jeff Nieman is on the mound today. He is 16-4 since last July. Pitchers cannot be much better than he has been the last year.
The Cleveland Indians are, well, a team that is on the downturn, let’s say.
20 games over .500 would look pretty good going into a mid-season rest.
How much longer could this streak of good play go?
Of course, all that was raining on the Rays during the month of April were W’s.
17 of ’em to be exact.
The Rays came out of April with a 17-6 record.
Not only is that the best in the American League, it is the best record in the MAJORS.
Who doesn’t have the best record in the league?
(I just wanted to make sure that was clear.)
Sure, this season is just one month old, but you have to start somewhere, right? Last year, the Rays got off to a 9-14 start and, in the competitive AL East, pretty much sealed their doom early. They made a run near the end of the season to put themselves in contention for a wildcard spot, but injuries and bad baseball–and the aforementioned poor start–gave them no wiggle room for mistakes.
This kind of a start means that when that inevitable slump comes for the Rays, they WILL have some room for error.
Sure, the Rays lost to the Kansas City Royals last night. But not for lack of effort by one Carlos Pena.
He made a great play to take away an extra bases hit down the line early in the game. Then he turned in an incredible “falling-into-the-dugout” grab of a foul ball in a 1-0 game to support his pitcher.
That level of effort is why the Rays are not only the best team in the league right now, but also because watching them (in person or on tv) is one of the most entertaining 2-3 hours you can spend in your day.
The Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday to improve on the season to 6-3.
Who cares, right?
Well, that mark is the best record to start a season in the franchise’s history.
Of course, there were some dismal years in St. Pete. However, if you consider the Rays have been well above .500 the past few seasons and even won a the AL East in 2008-over the vaunted lineups of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox-you have to look at this start as no small feat.
They began the season by taking 2 out of 3 from the Orioles. Over this past weekend the Rays fell back to earth a bit, losing 2 of 3 to the Yanks. Then there is this series, where the Rays swept the Orioles on the road in 3.
Not too shabby.
Two Sides to This Impressive Start
First, the only area of concern would be the level of competition in this first week or so of the season.
The O’s are not considered a team that will compete for the division title. Their best finish will be 4th, if things go their way. So it is difficult to consider the 6 games the Rays have played against them (5-1 in those games) a true measure of where this team is.
Also, you have to consider their disappointing weekend against a team that could be considered the Rays’ chief rival for the division title, the Yankees. The Yanks really took it to them in games 2 and 3 of their weekend series (of course, the Rays dominated game 1).
So you could argue that the Rays are going to be great against the bad teams and horrible against the good ones, right?
Flipside of the Discussion
The other side of this talk about who the Rays are beating and who they are losing to is simple:
Good teams do not just beat the other good teams in the league. If they did, their record would be horrible.
Good teams are competitive with the other good teams in the league and destroy the bad teams in the league.
That is just what the Rays are doing now.
Sure, we are only 9 games into a 162 game season, so saying that the Rays are off to a great start means little in the grand scheme of things.
This weekend’s series against those pesky Red Sox will show just how serious we should take the Rays start to 2010.
But let’s keep in mind that every World Series champion has to get off to SOME kind of start to begin the season.
Why not make it the best start ever?
Yankees 10, Rays 0
And it wasn’t that close.
Not much to say, really.
CC Sabathia looked amazing on Saturday, keeping the Rays’ hitters off balance throughout his 7 2/3 innings.
I think that as the game wore on and those Yankees fans in attendance found their voices (been a while), the Rays started to press more and more. I am sure that memories of last year’s No-No from the White Sox Mark Buerhle were flashing through their minds with each pitch.
It might sound stupid, but when Kelly Shoppach got the rifle single in the bottom of the 9th, it almost felt like the Rays won the game.
That is the interesting thing about a no-hit bid. If you get it, you totally crush the opposition. If you lose it early in the game, no big deal.
But if you lose it late in the game, as Sabathia did, it almost works against you. Shoppach’s hit was met with cheers we typically hear after a Carl Crawford walkoff single.
The Rays and Yanks are playing now, and save for a poor James Shields’ pitch to Curtis Granderson, the Rays would be up 2-0. As it stands, the Rays lead 2-1. It is a good one.
At least we got our hits early this time…
I am a big Joe Girardi fan. I have loved him since his days with the Chicago Cubs. Love the guy.
But even I don’t believe he had the guts to pull Sabathia after 8 innings the way he claims he would have done.
It makes for interesting copy in the newspaper and can make manager appear decisive. Of course, we’ll never know whether he would have followed through because Shoppach’s hit announced Sabathia’s removal from the game.
I would have liked to have seen whether Joe would have actually followed through.
Rays 9, Yankees 3
And it wasn’t that close.
David Price, the Rays’ phenom 24-year-old lefty, led the team against the invaders from NYC and gave them more than they could handle.
The offense didn’t want to be outdone, so they put their best bat forward and put up 8 earned against the Yanks’ big offseason acquisition, Javier Vazquez.
In the end, there was not much to complain about.
If you are a Rays fan, of course.
Price Was Scary Good
Price went out and simply gave the Rays his longest–and one of his more solid–performances of his young career.
7 2/3 IP 3 ER 7 H 3 BB 7 K
Through 6 innings, however, Price threw only 66 pitches. Aside from a double in the 2nd that brought home 2 runs by Alex Rodriguez, there was nothing scary.
When he reached the 8th inning, Price admitted he began to press a bit, which led to a bases-loaded jam and another run given up. But Lance Cormier came into the game and ended the frame with a strikeout.
It was an almost-effortless performance from a guy who is the Rays’ NUMBER 4 PITCHER!
Big Inning: The 4th
The Rays almost batted around in the bottom of the 4th against Vazquez.
A few doubles, a few singles, a stolen base from BJ Upton, and a huge blast from Carlos Pena gave the Rays all the runs they would need for the rest of the game (5).
While the home run was fun, I was more excited about the double that just eluded left-fielder Marcus Thames’ glove from the bat of Jason Bartlett. It was one of those moments that you were hoping would happen (him missing the catch) and it led to two big runs. Whew!
Sleeping Bats Awakened–Look Out!
Pena had been hitting terribly this season. And he had been suffering from a power outage, with no balls of his bat threatening to leave the yard. It was nice to see him take one out against a tough pitcher like Vazquez.
The other area the Rays are getting no production from is DH. I am going to lay off the Burrell Bashing–for now–and simply say that Willy Aybar’s big 2-run home run in the 6th was a respite from worrying about what to do with the DH position. After striking out horribly earlier in the game, it was great seeing him rip one down the line and out.
The Rays are going to have a tough one against the Yanks and CC Sabathia. Even though CC got knocked around pretty good by the Red Sox on Opening Day part 1, everybody knows he is a tough hombre.
The Rays are sending out youngster Wade Davis, who will make just his 7th start of his young career. He had to work hard to beat out Andy Sonnanstine for the 5th starter job, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against a tough Yankee club.
I’m excited. Can you tell?