A J Scam Dooms Rays
Can there be a Public Enemy number 1 in baseball? Can a persob be so hated he makes you want to spit fire and just wishes for 5 minutes in the parking lot alone with the guy. Well, for me, and maybe Rays Manager Joe Maddon, that guy is White Sox catcher A J Pierzenski. A J is that kind of snake that crawls on it’s belly and shows its true face every couple of years. Unfortunately, we got to see the slimeball first hand in our Sunday contest against the White Sox.
A J has a history of being a deceptive scum. You might remember a certain Playoff game a few years ago against the LA Angel where a dropped third strike put the entire stadium in panic and the nation wanting AJ’s collective rear for his certain act of theft. Well, AJ pulled off a bigger boner play yesterday that will make the Rays’ fans hate him for more than a few years.
In the 10th inning, with the White Sox threatening to take the contest from the Rays, AJ found himself in a pickle of a rundown between second and third base. He did everything possible to shake the Rays and move forward, but decided to use a bit of visual psyche work and get the Rays to be the bad guy this time. With Willy Aybar barreling down on him with the ball, AJ decided to make a move and fake towards second base and Jason Bartlett. Aybar threw the ball to Bartlett and AJ started his ruse.
Pierzenski made a motion to change direction and threw his elbow and body towards leftfield. In that motion, he clipped Aybars arm and the second base umpire decided that AJ had the right to keep going in his tuen and awarded him safe and gave him third base as a prize. It was determined by the umpire that AJ made a clean move towards third and that Aybar blocked his forward progress and interferred with AJ. Well, Maddon came out and went ballistic on the umpiring crew and he had more than that play to be upset about here.
It seems that second base umpire Doug Eddings was the guy behind the plate in AJ’s other baseball scam, and made a fool of Eddings for the second time in his career. The action by AJ was a true and outright farce to the game of baseball. We try and tell our kids in Little League to not cheat and that sportsmanship plays a huge role in life and baseball, then reward a guy like this for a bogus action.
I am not upset that in the last week the Rays have gotten two blown calls against them. The BJ situation against the Angels might just have been a bad call, but that call did not impact the final outcome of the game.
This call gave the White Sox a man at third base, and Pierzenski ended up being the winning run of the ballgame. That is the real tragedy here, the game came down to that one bogue play, and not a great action by either team. I hope we do get another chance at Pierzenski in the playoff’s this year. Maybe pinch-run Jonny Gomes at third and let him loose on AJ after a fly ball to the outfield. Jonny barreling down on AJ and knocking not just the ball, but AJ out of a game might be a great ending to this saga, but with our luck Gomes would be called out for a Pete Rose-type pop of Pierzenski.
But I can dream can’t I?
Rocco again came on as the DH in the game and went before a National Television audience on TBS to show he is healthy and ready to rockj and roll for the Rays. In the contest, Rocco went 2-5 in the game, but contributed with 2 RBI’s and a run scored for the Rays.
Rocco hit his second homer since coming back to the Rays in the 1st inning with Carlos Pena on base. The 2-run blast put the Rays in front early 2-0 over the White Sox. Baldelli took the first pitch he saw and drilled it 416 feet into the leftffield stands. Coming into the contest, Rocco was 6-10 against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle. Rocco also got a Ground Rule double in the 6th inning that rolled around in the corner for a bit on rightfielder Jermain Dye. Carlos Pena also scored on this play to tie the game at 4-4.
Later in the inning, Baldelli was thrown out at home trying to score. Rocco seemed to be looking back at third baseman Juan Uribe and lost a bit of spped going to home. The throw beat Baldelli with ease and the Rays lost a possible scoring chance.
Carlos Pena also had a great day for the Rays at the plate going 2-4, with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Pena hit a reached first base on an error by White Sox first baseman Nick Swisher before Baldelli blast to left. Carlos also had an interesting play in the top of the 6th inning.
With the White Sox playing a shift on Pena, he decided to put down a bunt down the third baseline and to the right of pitcher Buehrle. the pitcher could not get the ball in time, and also threw a errant ball to first to the play.
The game actually came down to one play in the bottom of the 9th inning for the Rays. With Brian Anderson on second, pinchrunning for Ken Griffey Jr., he went for it all after a single by Paul Konerko. Anderson rounded third and headed for home as Ben Zobrist got the ball in leftfield and tossed a throw towrds home. the ball took three hops before bouncing off the chest protector of Shawn Riggans and Anderson was safe with the tying run of the game.
A better throw by the inexperienced outfielder Zobrist and the game would have ended there. the White Sox had two outs at that moment and the out at home would have neded the game in dramatic fashion. You could see that Riggans tried to get the ball, but it made a short hop right before the plate and made it more difficult for him to take the ball into his glove with Anderson barreling down on him. Instead it gave the Sox a 5-5 tie going into extra innings.
Rays starter Andy Sonnastine was going for his 14th win of the season on Sunday. That would have tied him with Rolando Arroyo for the tops in seasonal victories for the Rays. Sonnanstine pitched 6.1 innings of 9-hit, 4-run ball and only posted one strikeout in the game.
Andy did give up two homers in the game for the third time this season. In his last 5 starts, Sonnanstine is 3-0, and his current winning percentage of .684 is the best in team history. Sonnanstine had trouble mostly only in the 4th inning for the Rays. In that inning, the White Sox got Sonnanstine for 4 runs on 4 hits. the first 4 batters in that inning scored on the two homers allowed by Sonnanstine that day.
Rays reliever Jason Hammel took the loss in Sunday’s game, but I truly feel he did not deserve that fate. The contest was decided by the umpires and not the players on the field.
With that in mind, if Rays current closer Dan Wheeler had shut down the Sox in the 9th inning, we would not even be talking about all of this. Wheeler got his second blown save in 10 save appearances this season for the Rays. Wheeler did get two strikeouts in the inning, but gave up a double to Griffey Jr, and a single to pince-hitter Paul Konerko that ended up scoring the tying run for the Sox.
During this series, the Rays had a chance to get their stolen base totals up significantly since both AJ Pierzenski and Toby Hall do not have impressive total this year throwing out runners. Pierzenski actually has the second worst percentage throwing out men in the AL. The Rays only attempted 1 steal attempt, and that was a successful steal by B J Upton in Friday night’s game. the Rays blew a chance to put pressure on the White Sox pitching staff by running more in the contests.