Longoria and Hinske homer to blow past Pirates



Rays 10, Pirates 5



When you begin to come into view of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the thing that catches your eyes is the magestic and magnificient splendor that is the Roberto Clemente Bridge. This river by-way is the perfect way to stroll into the ballpark for another night of great baseball, and of course, a Rays win.

When you enter Jacob’s Field/Progressive Field, it is the fact that you are above the main bowl of the stadium and all the action is below you. The fat that there is a monster wall in leftfield, and a scenic picnic nook in center is not lost on the effects of stadium’s collossial scoreboard.  Every stadium in America has a unique feel and has a signature element  to it that sets it apart from all other stadiums. What is it that set the Trop apart from everywhere else in the majors?

First thing that comes to mind is the AC.  74 degrees year round and no showers in the forecast. No birds flying in and taking that last frie, or any army of ants or flying pests beside the occasional horsefly visit on your cup.  But the thing that most people think of when they think Trop. is………………catwalks.

I know, I know. If the stadium had been built 5 years later, it might look more like Camden Yards with a roof, or Safeco Field with its gigantic three paneled monster ceiling. It might have a fans design, a sail design, or maybe, just maybe a retro-modern take on the tin roofs of Key West.  The catwalks are the things people seem to be curious and comment about the most.

 No matter if no one hits one for an entire series, you have to go through the “Trop Catwalk speech” so visitors know what is going on when the pinball bounces. Shane Hillebrand and Carlos Pena have planted ball on the catwalks, Jonny Gomes has hit them more than any other Ray( 7 times), but they are still that X-factor that can turn a game from a serious adventure to a joke in a nano-second on ESPN or another sports show.  Let’s hope that the MLB does give us a All-Star game based on upgrades and committment by both the team and the ownership group…………..We deserve to show America our playground, and they can play by our rules.



Trivia Fact of the Night:

Fernando Venezulea is the only person to win the Rookie of the Year award and Cy Young Award in the same season.





Why again did we send Evan Longoria down in Spring Training to the minors?  For game seasoning.



Well, the Rookie is actually becoming the big cheese for the Rays this year by hitting his 3-run homer to left center that was clearly over 410 feet from the plate. It was Longoria’s 15th homer of the year to lead both the club and put some distance on his MLB Rookie lead over Joey Votto( Reds) and Geovany Soto ( Cubs).




Not only did Evan hit a critical 3-run shot that brought Tampa Bay it’s 48th win of the year, but Longoria was not done there. 

Longoria now has 3-straight games of at least 3-hits and 1 homer. The last rookie to have such a streak was Johnny Fredrick of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1929.  Longo lead all rookies, and is 8th in the AL in Slugging Percentage at .540 for the year, despite missing the first 11 games of the year while in the minors.

He has a chance to be only the third rookie in the last 50 years to have 15 homers, 20 doubles, and 50 RBI’s by the All-Star break. The others were Devon White (1987), and Fred Lynn (1975). And his 15 homers is the most by a rookie before the All-Star break since Bob Hamelin of KC  (16 homers) in 1994.




And it was not a one-man show for the Rays Friday night. Eric Hinske also got into the act by hitting his own 3-run shot 2 rows short of going out of PNC Park. If the wind would have carried it a few more yards, Hinske would have been only the 23rd person to hit one out in that location in the stadium’s history.

Longoria went 4-5 last night, but Hinske’s 2-3 was not overshadowed at all by the rookie. Hinske also scored 3 times for the Rays in the win.  Hinske now has 13 homers and is tied with Carl Crawford with 44 RBI’s for the squad.  Crawfoird also went to deep center in the 6th inning.




But the true story of the night was Rays starter Scott Kazmir. Kazmir began the game in dominating style until he ran into some trouble in the 4th inning. Scott had been mixinng his pitches well, but had a loose control on his slider tonight and it cost him with a homer to Freddie Sanchez in the bottom of the 4th.

Scott tried to get a great handle on the slider, but it was not breaking great tonight and slipped  up and over the outside corners to give up 4 runs in the 4th inning.  Kazmir got only 4 strikeouts in 5 innings of work, and also got his 7th victory of the year for the Rays.

Tonight was also the first game back for Carlos Pena, who had been on the DL for 15 days to heal a broken finger on his throwing hand. Rays Manager Joe Maddon moved Carlos down into the 6th slot in the order to not put extra pressure on Pena until his hand is fully healed. Carlo went 0-4 tonight, but took some mean swings on the bat and hit a few monster fly balls.

Maddon always comments that when Carlos hit them(pitches) a mile, even for outs, he is close to regaining his stride and the rest will take care of itself. 

For the first time in a long while, Rays reliever J P Howell got roughed up a bit by an opposing team. Howell, who is 6-0 this season, has been the glue that has held the seams between the Bullpen and the starters this year. 

J P lasted 1 inning and gave up 2 hits and a lone run to the Pirates. He currently has a 3.02 ERA, and is a huge part of the Rays Bullpen that have held opponents’ to a .213 average, best in the majors this year.


Please note for the Boston Series beginning Monday, tickets still remain for all 3 games at the Trop., but fans are urged to purchase tickets in advance due to the large crowds expected for the series.

The Rays are 9-1 at home with crowds over 30,000 fans, and 11-2 in front of crowds of 25,000 or more this year.  The Rays have drawn 867,648 fans thru 43 home games, an increase of 42 percent over last year.  Only the Washington Senators, who moved into their new ballpark has a double digit increase with 20 percent so far in 2008.




Akinora Iwamura will miss the nest 3 games to fulfill his suspension in his actions during the last Boston series. Aki was not granted any reduction in the length of the suspension, while Boston outfielder Coco Crisp suspension was reduced from 7 to 5 games.

“I was very disappointed that my hope didn’t come through,” Iwamura said through an interpreter. “It hurts me that I cannot start the first day against Boston. But at the same time, it’s decided by the Commissioner and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Aki will miss the rest of the away series against the Pirates, and the first game of the Red Sox series at home.

Crisp, on the other hand, will miss the entire Red Sox-Rays series next week.

Major League Baseball’s decision “baffles” Rays manager Joe Maddon. The third-year skipper said he will seek an explanation from the appropriate decision-makers.

“I don’t agree with it at all,” Maddon said. “I think it should have been reduced. I think it’s way too severe because of the fact that we were reacting to the situation, and furthermore, the guy [Crisp] that pretty much created the entire moment gets his reduced by two days.

“Honestly, none of that makes any sense to me whatsoever.”

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