James Shields threw 7.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits, and Ben Zobrist knocked in Tampa Bay’s fourth, and eventual game-winning fourth run, and Jose Lobaton knocked his second big league home run to give a bit of a cushion as the Rays topped the Royals 5-3. The victory put the Rays up 1.5 games over Baltimore in position for the first wild-card spot in the American League. Tampa Bay has closed to within 3.5 games of the Yankees in the American League East. » Continue reading “Shields Remains Hot As Tampa Bay Takes The Royals, 5-3″
-Dad (Cowbell Clankers contributor Wayne to the rest of you) sent me a text yesterday after visiting the zoo. While looking at bats hanging upside down, he couldn’t help but think of the Rays offense.
Bats just hanging around, not being productive. The offense is the biggest question for the Rays heading into the 2012 regular season. » Continue reading “Rays: Missing Bats, Farnsy, And Minor League Decisions”
I am so thankful that Twitter exists so I can feel at least slightly in touch with my favorite team during the offseason.
Elise Myers isn’t the only one who uses Twitter as therapy when there is no MLB baseball to be had, I just can’t draw nearly as well as she does so you’re stuck with screen shots.
-I’ll kick this thing off (pun intended) with some tweets about the trip several members of the Rays took to Tallahassee last weekend for the Miami v. FSU game since I happen to be heading up to my alma mater this evening.
First off, let me say that knowing several of the Rays were at Doak cheering on my Seminoles makes me pretty ridiculously happy. Secondly, how sweet is Reid? For those of you who don’t know, Candie Fisher (@canfish16) is the wife of Jimbo Fisher, the head football coach at Florida State.
Reid wasn’t the only tweetin’ Rays player to publicly thank Mrs. Fisher.
After discussing Tampa Bay’s pitching from the ALDS and the Rangers powerful lineup, Jamie Newcomb of Rays Colored Glasses writes:
So, go out there and win it Texas. We don’t want to say we lost out to the second best team in baseball….again.
Newcomb also says:
Part of me wants to see them get it done for the American League.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m a Rays fan who wants to see the Cardinals get it done on baseball’s biggest stage. I can’t help but feel that as the Wild Card winner from the National League, they are tied to Tampa Bay, the Wild card winner from the American League.
I don’t have any ill-will toward the Rangers and I won’t be cheering against them, but I just can’t bring myself to cheer for them. On October 4th, I sat at the Trop and watched them beat my team. I haven’t had enough time to get over that.
Which side of the fence do you fall on for this World Series?
-I’m a big fan of graphics. Many times, they paint a pretty picture. Not this one. Want to see how the Rays opening day payroll has stacked up against the league and those big spenders known as the New York Yankees? Check this out over at Rays Index.
-After seeing that comparison, I need a little something to turn my frown upside down. Cue an article about Sam Fuld. I know, the stats aren’t all great, but Tommy Rancel believes that Fuld will be in the Rays’ future. Personally, I can’t wait to see a few more Super Sam catches.
Is your team’s season over? Did you catch the thrilling end of the Yankees/Rays game on Wednesday? Do you just like the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams commercials that feature Evan Longoria?
No matter what it was that drew you to the Tampa Bay Rays as they enter the 2011 postseason, I’d like to welcome you to the fold. Most of us didn’t expect to have the chance to see our team play in October, but we relish the opportunity.
I have a ticket for Tuesday’s game so I really hope that one’s necessary. In a perfect world, the Rays would be up 2-1 in the series against the Rangers and they’ll shut Texas down on Tuesday.
Here’s the info you’ll need to have in order to be able to cheer “Go Rays!” without feeling like a fraud.
Heads up: This is part one of a two part series. Look for the second post prior to tonight’s 5:07 pm game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
1. Understand that we’ve already come a long way. Given the way the roster looked at the end of 2010, most people (including me) didn’t think that we had a good shot at making the playoffs.
Chances are good that you’ve heard about the guys who left the Rays at the end of 2010. The list included, but was not limited to:
- Carl Crawford
- Carlos Pena
- Matt Garza
- Joaquin Benoit
- Rafael Soriano
Here are some of the guys the team picked up for 2011:
- Kyle Farnsworth
- Sam Fuld
- Johnny Damon
Farnsworth, Fuld and Damon have been gold for the Rays. Ramirez? Yeah…we know how that one turned out. Brief Manny synopsis:
- He had a great press conference with Johnny Damon. I was ready to give Manny a chance. The good news in, Johnny did turn out to be my “perfect storm.”
- Manny chose to retire rather than face a 100 game suspension after violating MLB’s drug policy allowing my dad to wonder, “Is he a class clown or a village idiot?”. I think we both choose the latter. Ramirez played five games with Tampa Bay.
- Manny was arrested on domestic violence charges.
- Manny decided he wanted to seek reinstatement by MLB.
2. Get to know the team.
The Rays are a fun team to watch. Here are some of my favorite members of the organization:
- Joe Maddon. Tampa Bay’s skipper has made his case for manager of the year. I swear, I learn as much about life as I learn about baseball when I listen to him speak. He loves the game, he supports his players, and he knows a good red wine when he tastes it. In short, he’s my kind of guy.
- Sam Fuld. He won’t play in every game, but when he does play in the outfield, you might get to witness Sam turn into Superman. He’s done it against the Orioles, the Red Sox, the White Sox, the Reds, the Cardinals…I could keep going but why don’t you just go check out the MLB video archives yourself? There are 73 videos of Sam Fuld catching, throwing, hitting and yes, warming up to pitch. Sam has been super so many times the Rays replaced the Manny Ramirez bobblehead giveaway with a Sam Fuld cape giveaway on May 29. Johnny Damon even took out the lineup card while wearing a cape. Have I told you lately that I love this team?
- Ben Zobrist. He’s a nice guy nicknamed “Zorilla.” He’s also been described as a “super-utility” player. Love.
- Johnny Damon. For real, he’s my perfect storm. Damon is a baseball player who plays the game the way I think he should be played, he knows how to have fun, he’s a great leader, he’s an older man and he let’s his facial hair get a little scruffy every once in a while. Swoon.
- Kyle Farnsworth. He has 25 saves on the season and then there’s this:
The Rays fell to the Rangers 2-0 in Arlington last night. If you relied only on MLB sources, you’d think starter Jeremy Hellickson was absolutely abysmal. The Tampa Bay recap from MLB.com was titled “Hellickson stumbles as Rays get blanked” with the sub-heading “Tampa Bay manages just three hits in 13th shutout loss.”
MLB posted this little beauty from their Facebook page during the game:
I’m sure that the fact that the Rays were losing when this photo popped up in my newsfeed didn’t help, but I was really miffed. I wasn’t annoyed that MLB ran an unflattering photo of Hellickson, it was the lack of context. Put in a caption like “Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson feeling the heat in Texas. Rays down 2-0″ and then ask for your fans’ input.
From that photo alone, you’d think Hellickson had just served up a grand slam. I don’t even want to get into what hundreds of people had say about the post and I haven’t looked at it today to see how many hundreds more climbed on the Caption THIS bandwagon.
Hellickson was not perfect (duh, he gave up two runs) but let’s not completely pin the loss on his shoulders. Only BJ Upton, Sean Rodriguez and pinch-hitter Sam Fuld showed signs of life at the plate.
The other night my dad and I were talking Rays baseball and what do you know, the lack of offense came up. Dad was a pitcher through college and can empathize with the Rays rotation. When you can’t count on your team for a few runs each night, it makes stepping on the mound a more daunting task than usual.
Feeling like you need to be perfect wears on you after a while, whether you’re a baseball player, a student, or in the working world.
Yes, Hellboy struggle. He lasted six innings, gave up six hits and two earned runs with four walks and four strikeouts. Over the course of the night, he threw 112 pitches, 69 were strikes.
James Shields, who has 10 complete games under his belt this season, will look to turn things around for his team, and himself, when he’s on the bump tonight. Shields is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA at Arlington.
The Rays entered the bottom of the eighth against the Mariners down 2-1. Facing “King” Felix Hernandez, a comeback seemed improbable. Tampa Bay had just one hit through the first seven innings.
Then, with one out and nobody on, Sam Fuld came in as a pinch hitter for Sean Rodriguez. The 5′ 10″ Fuld singled. Johnny Damon followed in Fuld’s footsteps with a single of his own. Evan Longoria sent Fuld home with a single and then Ben Zobrist’s RBI single got Damon across the dish.
Kyle Farnsworth was called upon to shut things down in the top of the ninth and did just that, picking up his 22 save of the season. Juan Cruz (5-0) got the W with just 2/3 innings of work.
After the Rays 3-2 victory, Damon spoke about beating out the play at first base in the eighth inning and he laid claim to another little piece of my heart:
“That’s the one thing you can control in this game and that’s hustling. That’s why I’ve done it ever since I was a kid and, you know, it paid off. There’s been plenty of those this year where you know you’re off by a half a step. But right there I showed my track wheels that I had back in the day.”
Oh Johnny…it’s like you knew that hustle was one of my favorite words by the time I was in second grade.
MLB.com’s Bill Chastain believes in this team. He even said Friday night’s win could “prove to be the biggest win of the season.”
Like a comeback against King Felix, it’s not probably, but Tampa Bay’s little blue and yellow engine could roll right in to the playoffs.
Such wins are the kind that can turn around the fate of the team and show a team just how much it can dig from within to itself for a victory. In short, such a win can propel a team to do great things.
Jeremy Hellickson will look for continued success against Seattle, he’s 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts against the Mariners, when he takes the mound tomorrow. Charlie Furbush, recently acquired from the Tigers, will make the start for Seattle.
-Casey Kotchman. No doubt he was clutch last night. The first baseman’s RBI single in the seventh tied the game. In the bottom of the ninth, Kotch sent the Rays off with a walk-off win with a solo shot to center field. Aside from the homer, my favorite moment of the night occurred after Kotchman dodged Evan Longoria’s shaving cream “pie.” Kotch showed his sense of humor when he told Todd Kalas:
“Guy’s trying to mess up my eyes again!”
But for the long-term, where does Kotchman fit with the Rays? If you’ve read this site regularly, you’ll know that my dad and I have a soft spot for Kotch. And I’m not known as Sarah “Stats-Girl” Tyson for a reason. Following last night’s victory over the Royals, D Rays Bay published what has become a controversial article entitled, “Why Kotchman Will Be A Bad Signing.”
-Sam Fuld toured USF’s renovated Diabetes Center yesterday and I was right, the kids were cute. B.J. Upton kept the community outreach going with some “B.J.’s Bunch” events today. More cute kids were involved. If you need proof, just check out Upton’s new Twitter avatar.
-Now how about those guys who nearly punched each other over a foul ball that fell into a trash can? They certainly weren’t looking out for any kids. My Twitter friend @bkibbs alerted me to this Fan Graphs essay and it’s worth reading if you’re an adult who attends baseball games.
-James Shields (10-9, 2.95) will look to get back to his complete game form tonight when he faces the Royals. Shields told MLB.com:
“Bottom line is we need to get some wins. I’m ready to go.”
Jeremy Hellickson (10-5, 3.15) gets the start in tonight’s game against the Royals. The Rays have been concerned about overusing the 24-year-old’s right arm. Skipper Joe Maddon told mlb.com that the team is taking precautions.
“There’s off days where we can skip him. Things like that. Keep him within a nice number. Right now he’s back on a regular gig. We just have to watch him closely to determine whether he’s getting too high with his numbers, then we have to back off.”
Tampa Bay with face Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar (8-8, 4.95). They’ll hope to cool off the righty who has been hot since the All-Star Break going 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA since the annual MLB event.
-Rookie Alex Cobb landed on the 15-day DL on Sunday with an injury to his right hand. The starting pitcher said he had a dead feeling in his hand on Saturday. Cobb currently stands at 3-2 on the season with a 3.42 ERA. Maddon discusses the injury in his pre-game interview with Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
-Not too long ago, I was frustrated with the national media and posted an article entitled, “Don’t Tell Me I Don’t Care.” In this video two Rays fans care a bit too much about retrieving a foul ball that landed in a trash can. Security had to deal with the grown men who wanted a souvenir that could have been covered with everything from Coca-Cola to nacho cheese. Get a grip. I just pray that if the men involved had significant others, those others were on hand or watching on TV and saw a very bright red flag go up.
-Outfielder Sam Fuld, who is a Type 1 diabetic, toured the renovated University of South Florida Diabetes Center today. I can’t wait to see pictures of Fuld meeting some of the kids he mentioned in his tweet after the tour. I bet it was super cute.
It only took Alex Cobb 83 pitches to negotiate seven innings as Tampa Bay salvaged the final game of a three-game set in Kansas City. The young righty gave up six hits and struck out two while allowing no walks in running his record to 3-0 on the season. Keeping the Royals off-balance with his second and third pitches, Cobb rolled ground balls, and even when allowing the first two hitters of the sixth and seventh innings, escaped unharmed.
The Rays got the only run they would need when Evan Longoria singled Johnny Damon home in the top of the third. Matt Joyce then knocked in Ben Zobrist, who had reached base on his 31st double of the season, with a sacrifice fly.
In an inning that would drive pitching coaches and manager crazy, the Rays tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. After a lead-off single by Sam Fuld, Royals starter Felipe Paulino and reliever Blake Wood combined to hit three batters and walk one, resulting in an RBI on both a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Tampa Bay would send three relievers to the hill to close things out after Cobb was forced to leave the game with a blister on his throwing hand. Jake McGee slammed the door shut on the Royals in the ninth, striking out two in the process. The Rays improved to 53-47 on the season, but remain 9.5 games behind division-leading Boston an 6.5 games behind the Yankees in the race for the wild card.
Tampa Bay headed west after their win for a four-game set with the Athletics.Â Jeremy Hellickson (9-7, 3.17) will take the hill in Oakland this evening, against Guillermo Moscoso, who is 3-5 on the year with a 2.96 ERA.