Backe Hands Ex-Team a loss, and wake-up Call



Astros 3, Rays 2



I want to start tonight’s blog by thankng the Rays and their staff for a fantastic evening at Gameworks in Ybor City on Sunday night.


I know all the Rays’ Season Ticketholders’ will agree it was a great night with prizes, games and outstanding foods galore.


The chocolate fountains decked in the Rays’ light blue,yellow and white color scheme was a true hit both to the tastebuds and the eyes. 


Players’ like Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Justin Ruggiano, Gary Glover, Grant Balfour, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine came and spent time with the Fans.  Oh, and Jonny Gomes was stationed at the front bar and was buzy with photo ops the entire night.


Rays Manager Joe Maddon was also there to hold court with the Rays faithful about the game and his views.


Thank you again to all the Rays staffers and the front office for offering such a great time at the halfway mark in our home 2008 schedule.


Trivia Fact of the Night:

Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to ever hit 2 grand slams in the same game. He did it with the Atlanta Braves on July 3, 1966.





The Rays let a good pitching performance by Scott Kazmir get away by not getting the usual timely hits and runs and ended up losing to the Astros on Sunday. Kazmir pitched 5.2 innings, and gave up 4 hits for 3 runs against the Astros. He also got 7 strikeouts to move up to 18th plce on th AL strikeout list with 68 K’s. Considering Kazmir missed about 4 starts due to his elbow strain, he might be on track to defend his A L Strikeout crown from last season.




I heard a Ray’s fan before the game on Sunday call Rays rookie Evan Longoria ,”The Natural.”  If he keeps hitting like this, and fielding like it is routine plays as usual, I can see him getting that moniker for  a long time with the team.


Longoria hit his 12th homer of the season to leftcenter in the 2nd inning off Astro’s starter, Brandon Backe.


Longoria had worked the count to 3-1 before Backe threw a soft curve over the plate, and Evan deposited it in Section 145 for a 2-run homer. Eric Hinske, who has walked on 4 pitches also scored on the play for the Rays. The blast tied Evan with Hinske for the team lead in homers, and also tied him for the MLB rookie lead with the Red’s Joey Votto, and Geovany Soto of the Cubs.




B J Upton has some of the most misleading staistics on the Rays this season. This is a guy who some publications had thought might be the Rays first “30-30” guy this season. That has not materialized yet, but some of his stats do show an aggressive nature and some play discipline at times. But his numbers are all over the place and did not show the consistant nature needed for the Rays right now in their 3 or 4 hitter.


B J  is first in the AL in being caught stealing with 9, but is also 3rd in steals with 22 for the year. He is also currently ranked 8th in the AL in On-Base Percentage (OPS) at .399, and is tied with Eric Hinske for top RBI’s on he Rays with 38 this year. Upton is also  not in the top 30 in extra base hits this year.


His outfield play has been remarkable going to the ball on a run, or over his head and running to the ball. But, his play with the ball in front of him, or communicating from his centerfield position have led to a few errors and hits for the opposition.  B J  is currently ted foir 1st with 8 outfield asists this year.


Upton is still learning the ways of playing center in the big leagues, and he is getting better every game, but at some point you have to take the gloves off and tell him to be aggressive coming in on the ball and demanding the ball with his voice if he has a play on it on the gaps. He will get better with time, and might just be one of the leagues best in a few seasons.



I really hate it when a bad play by the opposition gets turned 180 degrees and becomes a positive for them. Case in point on Sunday, Dioner Navarro reached base in the 4th inning with a double to center. Gabe Gross comes up next and lines a ball to right that trickles a bit to righfielder Hunter Pence.


Pence not known for his throwing arm , get an ugly and lazy throw to home redirected inflight about a quarter of the way up the line towards third base. Navarro is trying to score from second, and is way ahead of the throw to the plate, but as he rounds third, the ball comes up the line and meets him in stride to be tagged out by Astros’ catcher Humberto Quintero for an out.


In a perfect world, Navarro would have the wheels to beat the throw, but a bad throw turned into an out by pure luck, not by skill. So Pence ended up with an outfield assist on the play and should consider it a gift from the Rays.



After Sunday’s contest, the Rays made a roster move in an effort to bring in some infield help for the Marlins series. Starting shortstop Jason Bartlett will miss a few games to be with his wife for the birth of their child. 

The Rays sent Justin Ruggiano back to the Durham Bulls and brought up Ben Zobrist as an insurance policy if and when Bartlett leaves the team. Zobrist will play in place of Bartlett until his return during the Pittsburgh Pirates series this weekend. 



During the homestand, I met a few fans who were Chicago Cubs fans becuase they could notet the Rays telecasts all the time in the Fort Meyers, Naples area of the state.


Well, as of  June 29th, the Rays will be WXCW-TV. CW-6 will be te latest member in the growing Rays Network broadcast team.  The station canbe viewed on Cable Channel 6 in Ft. Meyers, Cape Coral and Naples.  In Port Charlotte, it is located on channel 11 as well as on the over-the-air antenna station 46. 


Both these stations will have a select number of Rays games for the rest of the season.  Check yourlocal listings for te games to be broadcast in this new Rays region.



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