Tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

9/27 – Hold Your Breath

The American League Wild Card race is getting real interesting right now. With a Baltimore win over the Red Sox and the Rays downing the Yankees, the Rays and Sox are now tied atop the AL Wild Card standings. It looked for a while like the Red Sox may be able to hold their ground and continue this dominant season but the Rays have really come on strong and can smell the playoffs.

Josh Beckett pitched well against the Orioles last night but the Baltimore offense has decided to play the role of Major Spoiler and give the Rays some help. Chris Davis and Robert Andino were the unlikely heroes in Baltimore’s 6-3 victory over Boston, Davis driving in a pair and Andino scattering three RBI throughout the game.¬†Tonight the Red Sox will send veteran southpaw Erik Bedard (1-2, 3.63 ERA) to the mound against rookie and fellow left-hander Zach Britton (11-10, 4.44 ERA).

The Rays needed a big inning to bust through against the Yankees and that’s what they got in the bottom of the third. With the score at 2-0 Yankees, a two-run double off the bat of B.J. Upton and a Johnny Damon RBI single put the Rays up for good. Having James Shields on the mound gave the Rays that extra boost of confidence to overcome the Yankees as Shields pitched eight and two thirds innings of six-hit, two-run baseball. Kyle Farnsworth recorded his twenty-fourth save of the year. Tonight young righty Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90 ERA) will go against journeyman righty Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02 ERA) in a chance for the Rays to hop into first place in the Wild Card.

It’s Veteran vs. Youngster for the Sox and Youngster vs. Veteran for the Rays in what could be the biggest game of the season for both of these two playoff-bound teams.

9/24 Nothing Left…

…but the Wild Card. That’s right, all of the divisions have been decided except for the Wild Card.

NL West – Diamondbacks
NL Central – Brewers
NL East – Phillies

AL West – Rangers
AL Central – Tigers
AL East – Yankees

As of right now the Red Sox hold a 1.5 game lead over the Rays in the American League and the Braves have a slim 2 game lead over the Cardinals, with the Cardinals igniting over the last two weeks.

With four games left in the regular season losses are huge. Could there be two one-game playoff’s? One? Or will both Wild Card’s be decided in 162 games? We’ll know soon enough.

4/21 – Game 4 @ Rays

Wait, are we allowed to do this? The number in the “W” column – not quite sure what the W stands for, I’ll have to look it up – went up by one. Can we do that…? 

The W must stand for Wefinallywonagame…
Believe it or not, that is actually how I felt when the game was over. It feels so good to win a ballgame! Floyd pitched very well, everyone on the offense contributed, and our defense was more than average. Adam Dunn drove in a run! Ed Farmer thinks that it’ll take another few games before he’s completely re-acclimated to playing full-time, but as long as he drives in a run per game he can take as long as he needs to before he hits home runs again. 
Ohman, Santos, and Gray all pitched very well out of the bullpen. Somebody must’ve knocked out and bagged the old Will Ohman, stuck him in a closet, brought out this new guy, jersey’d him up, and told him that he is now Will Ohman and will pitch effectively. Whoever he is, I like him and he needs to stay. Two points for everybody. Hooray for good outings!
Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Sergio Santos – 10 points
2. Will Ohman – 9 points
3. Jesse Crain – 8 points
4. Will Ohman – 7 points
5. Chris Sale – 5 points
5. Tony Pena – 5 points
6. Jeff Gray – 4 points
7. Matt Thornton – 1 point

Thankfully I can now change my background theme, as you have seen already, as it was literally making me sad to look at the Rays theme even though it was only up for less than twenty
-four hours. 
Cleveland is still off to a white-hot start as they’re currently leading 2-0 over the Royals in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Tribe 13-5 on the season, which is ridiculous. Now that Grady Sizemore is back that team is looking really good. Choo, Hafner, Sizemore, Cabrera, Carmona, and Masterson are a pretty good core group of players. 
The Royals aren’t doing too bad, either, as they trail the Indians by two games in the AL Central standings. A lot of early walk-off wins for that young team (with a few veterans peppered in for good measure). 
And, saving the best for last, Joe Mauer is on the 15-day DL. I typically don’t smile at other peoples’ misfortune but I have the biggest grin on my face right now. I love seeing Twins go down. Call me horrible, but it’s true. 
Wow… can’t believe I said that… actually, I can. Nevermind. 
The Sox will head into Motown tomorrow as Mark Buehrle (1-1, 4.50) will take on Justin “Bunny” Verlander (1-2, 3.41). I’ll tell you the not-so-interesting story about that nickname tomorrow. 
Go Sox!!

4/20 – Game 3 @ Rays

Alright, well, obviously the Rays are a pretty good team. That much is clear. Cy Young’s people just told me that he has indeed extended an offer to change the name of his award to the “Wade Davis” award. We have yet to hear back from Davis’ representatives. 

Carlos Quentin hit a home run. *stands up and applauds* Good job there, buddy. I guess. It was a good attempt but in the end it didn’t really do much but dent Cy Davis’ ERA. At least he’s starting to swing the bat well. I’m sure everyone else is trying their best but I’m really noticing some improvement with Quentin over the past couple days. 
Speaking of Wade Young, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball. So yeah… that was pretty cool. That Tampa Bay pitching rotation is pretty solid, I’m not gonna lie. Shields and Price are always reliable but lately this Davis kid has been clutch – especially against the Sox. 
Someone has taken over Will Ohman’s body and he’s actually started to pitch well. It’s really throwing me off because I expect him to pitch poorly and when he doesn’t I’m disappointed (but in a good way). 

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Jesse Crain – 9 points
2. Sergio Santos – 8 points
3. Will Ohman – 7 points
4. Chris Sale – 5 points
4. Tony Pena – 5 points
5. Jeff Gray – 2 points
6. Matt Thornton – 1 point

I apologize for the not-very-enthusiastic post. I’m just a tad on the frustrated side at the moment. And it’s all Jake Peavy’s fault. Until we win again I’m going to change my theme to the team we’re currently playing against. After tomorrow it’ll be the Tigers. 
Tomorrow’s match-up is Gavin Floyd (1-1, 4.29) against Grover Cleveland Niemann (0-2, 6.32). If we keep the ball out of the outfield we should be fine. The two exceptions to this: 1) A home run and 2) There isn’t really a 2 but it’d look weird if I had just one exception.   
Go Sox. Please. Go.  

4/19 – Game 2 @ Rays

Have we seen some stellar pitching so far this series or what? David Price yesterday and now James Shields owning the pants off of us tonight. I tell ya! Those kids they have in Tampa Bay are very impressive. 

I’m not even gonna be negative about the Sox tonight. We did everything we could and like last night we just got out-pitched. Jesse Crain did a good job out of the bullpen, two points for him, and Danks did very well in his seven innings of work. Unfortunately, just like in all of Danks’ starts so far this year, we just couldn’t get him a win. 
Nice RBI for Pierzynski in whatever inning that was (I wasn’t really paying attention cuz I was throwing a perfect game with Barry Zito in MVP Baseball 2004 – I finished the perfect game. Only my second of that dynasty but anyway) we needed it. 

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Jesse Crain – 9 points
2. Sergio Santos – 8 points
3. Will Ohman – 5 points
3. Chris Sale – 5 points
3. Tony Pena – 5 points
4. Jeff Gray – 2 points
5. Matt Thornton – 1 point

Look at that! Crain has jumped ahead of Santos in the standings. Woo-hoo. 

Phil Humber (1-1, 3.46) will go against Wade Davis (1-2, 3.26) tomorrow at 5:40. Davis will most likely pitch so well that Cy Young will offer to change the name of the award. I mean seriously! Come on, guys. Six losses in a row? We’re playing like Baltimore. The bad Baltimore. Not that Baltimore has been good since the season started… well, actually, it’s all Buck Showalter’s fault. What a terrible manager. Yeah… blame it on Showalter. So then I guess we’ll blame it on Ozzie? Or Peavy? Yeah! It’s all Peavy’s fault! What a distraction that guy has been.

Exclamation signifying encouragement to the baseball team that plays on the South side of Chicago, Illinois!! Or something…

4/18 – Game 1 @ Rays

David Price is one heck of a pitcher. He definitely is not the same on the road as he is when pitching at home. I don’t know if it’s the crowd support or what but he was absolutely filthy tonight. Tip of the cap to you, sir. (*tips cap.*)
I can’t really say much about a 5-0 loss in which our offense only collected four hits. I could make up a bunch of positives that I noticed but the only real big one was Matt Thornton’s one decent inning. He allowed a homer to Felipe Lopez (who apparently has our number on speed dial) but other than that I think his performance merits one point. 
Once again, good job David Price. You’re one crazily talented guy. 
Sox play again tomorrow at 5:40. James Shields (0-1, 3.98) vs. John Danks (0-1, 3.15). Based on those numbers we should win a 4-3 ballgame. But Sam Fuld will probably make a diving catch on the outfield concourse.

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Sergio Santos – 8 points
2. Jesse Crain – 7 points
3. Will Ohman – 5 points
3. Chris Sale – 5 points
3. Tony Pena – 5 points
4. Jeff Gray – 2 points
5. Matt Thornton – 1 point

Ugh… Go Sox. (*buries head in hands and plays Don’t Stop Believing for the ninth time in the last hour*)

4/17 – Game 3 vs. Angels

Fellow Sox blogger Catherine over at chisoxblog.mlblogs.com/ put it perfectly when she titled her post “Ick.” That sums up my thoughts as well, Catherine. That sums up my thoughts as well. 

I didn’t catch any of this game which means I’ve missed fourteen innings of Sox baseball this season. I was at my church, dressed up as one of the aliens from Toy Story, putting on a show for an awards ceremony. And it was pretty much awesome.

However, so as not to completely disappoint you, I was playing Strat-o-Matic baseball when I wasn’t on stage. I downloaded a baseball schedule generator and I’m replaying the 2003 season but with only sixteen teams (eight in each league). I’m playing the Cubs-Cardinals series first and Mark Prior completely dominated the Cards in game one of the 2003 season. Twelve strikeouts, three walks, five hits, and one earned run through eight innings. Kyle Farnsworth almost blew the save in the bottom of the ninth inning when he gave a up a lead-off home run to Eli Marrero. The Cubs ended up winning the game 3-2. Kerry Wood and Dan Haren will pitch in the second game of the series.

I do believe that’s the first time I’ve ever mentioned Strat-o-Matic baseball in one of my posts. It was my “big” present for Christmas and I haven’t really played it since February, when the excitement of finally owning the game wore off. I’m a huge fan of MVP Baseball 2004 and 2005 for Gamecube (I’ve played four seasons of a Marlins dynasty in MVP 2004. Don’t ask why I picked the Marlins cuz I don’t know either) but I don’t want to be starting at a screen all the time. I needed something portable, too. So I got Strat-o-Matic for Christmas and I’m just rediscovering it recently and I have no idea why I ever stopped playing it.

I should post more about Strat in the future. (And if you’ve never heard of it, http://www.strat-o-matic.com/products/baseball. It’s amazing.) 

Oh! The Sox lost 4-2 to Dan Haren. The Angels bullpen collected three holds and a save, so hats off to them. Jesse Crain struck out four batters out of the Sox ‘pen – two points for him.

The Sox are headed to Tampa to play another four-game series against the Rays. Edwin Jackson (2-0, 2.89) will pitch against David Price (1-2, 3.92). 

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Sergio Santos – 8 points
2. Jesse Crain – 7 points
3. Will Ohman – 5 points
3. Chris Sale – 5 points
3. Tony Pena – 5 points
4. Jeff Gray – 2 points

Even though we can’t get our act together lately, I still love this team.
Go Sox!!
(What’s going on with the typeface? Notice how it just changes after the Strat-o-Matic link? Strange.)

4/10 – Game 4 vs. Rays

My dad and I belong to a local club of magicians and every year they have a fun Christmas show where a bunch of the members do some of the shtick from their acts. We have this show in a party room at a Golden Corral buffet and believe me good times are had by all. Jokes are made at the performers’ expense, sometimes out loud so everyone can hear, and sometimes whispered from table to table. I only go for the food and the laughs because I’ve been around my dad so much that I know how all of the tricks work.

In the act of one of the magicians there was an object deemed the “Pitcher of Mystery.” (After each time he says it the audience is supposed to say “ooooohhh.”) I leaned over to my dad and said, “Pitcher of Mystery? Is Gavin Floyd gonna pop outta there?” My dad howled with laughter and everyone looked at us like we were idiots, but it was true.

Gavin Floyd is the Pitcher of Mystery. In the paraphrased words of Forrest Gump, “Gavin Floyd is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Tampa Bay, we got the Good Gavin today. Floyd pitched eight innings of four-hit, one-run baseball, walking one and striking out eight. He really settled into a groove in the fourth inning when he struck out the side, catching B.J. Upton looking, Dan Johnson swinging, and Ben Zobrist also not offering at strike three. 
As for the offense, Gordon Beckham cracked his second home run of the season in the second inning and Paulie went deep twice (his second and third home runs) – all of which were solo shots. Brent Morel, Juan Pierre, and A.J. Pierzynski all drove in runs for a final total of six. Mixing together both power and solid hitting fundamentals today. 
You know, I actually forgot that Adam Dunn was on this team. I woke up this morning thinking about the lineup and how uncharacteristically good Mark Teahen has been in the DH spot, and I was happy with it. Can’t wait for Dunn to finally suit up for a Sox home game. Tomorrow? Tuesday?
Tony Pena receives two points for a good inning out of the bullpen. 
The Sox will welcome the Oakland Athletics into U.S. Cellular field for a three-game set, beginning tomorrow with Mark Buehrle (1-0, 7.36) taking on Dallas Braden (0-1, 6.43). That game will be at 7:10 pm. 

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Sergio Santos – 4 points
2. Will Ohman – 3 points
2. Jesse Crain – 3 points
2. Matt Thornton – 3 points
2. Chris Sale – 3 points
3. Tony Pena – 2 points

In personal news, I’m going to the home opener of the Kane County Cougars tomorrow afternoon. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about them before, but this time I have the opportunity to hang out with radio play-by-play man Jeff Hem for a little bit before the game. Should be fun watching a professional broadcaster prepare for a ballgame. 
Go Sox!!

4/9 – Game 3 vs. Rays

Huh! I am pleasantly surprised with Phil Humber’s performance. I was expecting an outing reminiscent of his Mets days (bad innings patched, bad runs on bad or bad hits, bad walks [insert any number higher than five in place of the word ‘bad’]) but he comes out and pitches six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. I can’t wait for Peavy to come back but this guy isn’t too shabby. 

The last four innings of this game are the only innings of a game I have missed voluntarily. My friend came over and asked if I wanted to skate around in the streets and work on hockey passes, so I took that over a Sox game. Before you take away my Sox Pride Fan Club card, I ditched him early to get home for the end of the game.
I did see Sam Fuld’s amazing catch in the bottom of the fourth inning. If you haven’t seen it yet, click the link. This will go down as one of the best catches of the 2011 season, if not the best. This scrappy little guy was dealt from the Cubs to the Rays as a part of the Matt Garza deal and I don’t think the Rays will be disappointed in what they received. I saw a lot of Fuld last season and I thought he’d stick around in Chicago for a while. 
In the top of the ninth inning with Chris Sale on the mound and Felipe Lopez at the plate, Lopez took exception to a pitch that was just a smidge to close for his liking. He stared out at Sale and then hit the next pitch into the bleachers in left-center. That’s all well and good, nice job Lopez for battling back, but that’s not what I’m going for here. He could’ve taken the high road by just accepting the home run as his revenge and jogging around the bases, but did he? No. Lopez took the low road by tossing his bat to the pitchers mound and barking at A.J. Pierzynski after crossing home plate. I don’t know what was said between the two but I know that it was bad enough that home plate umpire Kerwin Danley was pushing Lopez away from Pierzynsk, and not the other way around, which tells me that Lopez was the instigator. Isn’t a home run good enough for you?
Looking at the box score I can see that Ohman, Santos, and Sale all did well out of the bullp–wait, OHMAN!? The computer must have made a typo while writing up the box score. I’ll email MLB Advanced Media to let them know there’s a glitch in their system.
In all seriousness, though, Ohman did pretty well. He and Santos will both receive two points and Sale will get three for picking up the save, even though he allowed a home run to Felipe “I Take Exception to Pitchers who Think I’m Crowding the Plate and Want to Back me off a Little Bit” Lopez. 
Speaking of typos, I made one in my last post. “08cws” in the comments pointed it out, which made me a tad embarrassed, but I knew it was there. I incorrectly said this was a three-game series when it’s actually a four-game series. My mistake. Maybe I should get my Sox Pride Fan Club card taken away for that… I can’t even read a stinkin’ schedule.
Good win today, boys! Pierzynski with a clutch two RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning put us up for good. Quentin is collecting quite a few walks so opposing pitchers are obviously scared of him. Too bad there are professional hitters up and down this lineup and any one of our guys can burn you.
Game four of this three-game series (heh) will be tomorrow at 1:10. Gavin Floyd (0-0, 5.14) will go against Jeff Niemann (0-1, 7.50). You won’t be able to miss Jeff, he’s very tall.
Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Sergio Santos – 4 points
2. Will Ohman – 3 points
2. Jesse Crain – 3 points
2. Matt Thornton – 3 points
2. Chris Sale – 3 points
Go Sox!!

4/8 – Game 2 vs. Rays

Well… don’t really know where to begin with this one… Here I was all ready to write a nice post about a good 7-5 win over a struggling team, but then Dan Johnson happened. Go figure.
Our offense was there from the beginning, as illustrated by Gordon Beckham’s home run in the first inning. Quentin missed a home run three times tonight. Twice on foul balls that barely missed the pole and once on a fly ball deep to left-center field that hit off the top of the wall. Mark Teahen and Alexei Ramirez hit home runs as well and it looked good for a while. 
Jesse Crain came on in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and only allowed one run, so he gets three points for that performance. Because of the two errors I can’t really fault Matt Thornton for that ninth inning collapse, so I’ll give him the regular two points. The Rays were hitting the ball so Thornton was obviously throwing strikes, we just made some costly errors. Alexei had plenty of time to get the runner at first I think he just got a tad excited – he does that sometimes. That Pierre pop up was inexcusable, though. I’d hate to be in the locker room when Ozzie Guillen talks to him about that one.
Will Ohman made an appearance tonight. He didn’t do too bad but he’s Will Ohman so I’ll only give him one point. Interesting tidbit for you here, before I wrap things up, Paul Konerko is the first player in franchise history to drive in a run in each of the first six ballgames and tonight he continued that streak to seven games. 
Oh, and last thing… we went 1-2-3 against Kyle Farnsworth. Yeah. 
Game three of this three-game series will be tomorrow at 3:05. My Humberometer readings are off the charts which tells me that Phil Humber will make his Sox starting pitching debut tomorrow! (I know all of us White Sox fans were counting down the days until Humber would toe the rubber in a Sox uniform as soon as we heard we picked him up.)

Bullpen Points Leaderboard
1. Jesse Crain – 3 points
2. Matt Thornton – 2 points
3. Sergio Santos – 2 points
4. Will Ohman – 1 point
Go Sox!!