By Wayne Tyson
Tampa Bay’s wives dominated the Marlins’ wives 14-2 in the Citrus Cup charity softball game yesterday, then the Rays went out and took care of business, defeating Miami by a score of 13-4. Shake-A-Leg Miami and Autism Speaks Tampa Bay Chapter were the beneficiaries of the day’s softball game, and Tampa Bay retained a half-game lead in the American League East in the evening.
Ben Zobrist had a two-homer night, going three-for-three and walking twice, and the offense set the table for Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore. In all, the Rays had fourteen hits and benefited from six free passes. Moore looked good for the better part of his six inning outing. He worked out of trouble in the bottom of the second inning as well as the fifth before giving up a four-spot in the sixth frame.
Jose Reyes walked and Hanley Ramirez singled to center. Giancarlo Stanton ended Moore’s shutout bid with an infield single that scored Reyes. One batter later, former Ray Justin Ruggiano took a 3-2 count, missed-location fastball out of the park to end Miami’s scoring. Moore then struck out Austin Kearns, and rolled a ground ball out to end the inning.
After the game, Moore mentioned that had the score been different, he would possibly have gone with another pitch to Ruggiano. Actually, had the fastball hit its mark, Ruggiano wouldn’t have enjoyed the 360’ trot around the bases. So, the thought process was good, the pitch just didn’t hit the mitt. And that’s going to happen, no matter who’s on the mound.
All in all, Moore was impressive on the evening. He whiffed nine, while only allowing two walks. Along the way, he only gave up a couple of hard-hit balls. Working out of trouble on more than one occasion, he seemed in control of the situation. And if he is now feeling comfortable, the rest of the league needs to watch out. The Rays’ staff, always its strong suit, is looking even better.
· I loved when Jim Hickey went to the mound in the second inning to communicate with Moore. Whatever Hickey said, it worked. Austin Kearns grounded into a double play and Donovan Solano struck out to end the Marlins’ scoring threat.
· Ben Zobrist had a fantastic night at the plate. After walking in the second, Zobrist hit a two-run homer of the façade in the second deck in the third inning. In the fifth, he hit another homer, just out of the reach of Giancarlo Stanton. He singled in the eighth and walked in the ninth. Hopefully, BZ is back on track after slumping the past few weeks. Love to see the good guys do well.
· Thirteen runs was lucky for Tampa Bay, as it was the highest tally they have but on the board this season
· At this time, the Rays have signed eleven of their forty draft picks, including LHP Sean Bierman of the University of Tampa
· Word is that TB’s first-round pick Richie Shaffer is the most legit power guy in the draft. Plus, playing for Clemson, he’s been seasoned well in the baseball-tough Atlantic Coast Conference.
Tampa Bay looks to sweep the series with the Marlins this afternoon at 1:10. The Rays send James Shields to the mound against righty Anibal Sanchez. Shields looks to turn things around after struggling in his last two starts against the White Sox and Yankees. He is 6-4 on the season.