Zobrist, Floyd Help Rays Reach Historic  Milestone


Rays 14, Orioles 3
Every fan that has been here since the first days of the Rays can finally give out a collective sign of relief that we are a offical winning team in the MLB now. For years we have began the post-All Star period with visions of a 82 win season, but now we can yell, scream, and toast the victories with a sweeter taste in our mouths. Not since Wade Boggs took that 3,000 hit into the right field seats have we had this much to celebrate here in Tampa Bay.
Plus, with the Rays victory, I am also celebrating the launch of my website on www.raysrenagade.com starting today. This site will be a sister site to my posting on MLBogs.com. So you can either visit me here, or go to my new site, but look out for the construction mess. I am new at the website biz, and I have alot of content and borders, widgets, and assorted mish-mosh before it  is how I want it for all of the Tampa Bay Rays faithful.
So be patient with me and I will get this looking like a well shined Ferrari at the beach in no time.
Rays 14, Orioles 3
Tell me that was not the wildest sight of Oriole’s catcher Ramon Hernadez going after home plate umpire Sam Holbrook in the 4th inning. I have seen a few catchers go nuts usually after an inning, but after another walk was issued to the Rays by Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, Hernandez was quick to rise and go face-to-face with Holbrook before being tossed out for his verbal arguments. I know alot of fans could not understand what happened, so I wanted to make sure the masses’ knew the real story here.
The Rays had a bevy of great plays on the night to secure one of their biggest margins of victory, 14-3 last night at the Trop. Akinora Iwamura lead off the game with a triple on a 2-2- count that bounced and spun in the right field corner in front of Nick Markakis before he got the handle on the ball and threw it back into the infield. Aki did not score on the play because he was in a rundown between third and home after B J Upton hit a soft grounder to short. Aki ended up going 2-3 on the night, also with 2 walks  and score 3 runs for the Rays.
Scott Kazmir earned his 10th victory of the season tonight and did finds himself in trouble again with a high pitch count early in the ballgame. Kazmir threw 102 pitches in 5.2 innings of work for the Rays. Scott posted a 3-hit shutout tonight and lowered his ERA to 3.13 for the year.
I am not sure why Kazmir gets into his extended pitch counts this season. He is pitching the same as in recent years, but maybe other teams are seeing a pattern to Kazmir and laying off his pitches and being patient knowing that Scott will put the ball over the plate. It is a concern because it takes a great pitcher out of the game early and you lose his effectiveness against certain hitters later in the game.
I am starting to think that Brian Anderson, who filled in for Joe Magrane when he was in NY for the USA Baseball telecasts is right. Ben Zobrist has seen enough of Durham and wants to stay here.  The guy has been “Mr Clutch” since coming up because of injury several times this year. He is the switch-hitter that could help the Rays tremediously in the coming month with pitching situations and to get some of our tired guys a breather before the playoffs.
But tonight, Zo-rilla, as Rays Manager Joe Maddon calls him, hit his first career Grand Slam to put alot of distance between the Rays and Orioles tonight. This is the first time ever that Zobrist has hit the monster of all homers in his youth and professional career. And he picked a historical time to do it for the Rays. People will remember for years this night for it’s 82nd win, but they will also remember that Zobrist hit a monster  on the first pitch he saw in the  4th inning to preserve it for the Rays.
Overshadowed a bit tonight was the great performance of B J Upton, who went 3-5 tonight with 3 runs scored and an RBI.  Upton also got his 39th stolen base tonight and is tied with Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki for 2nd in the AL stolen base race. Carlos Pena also had a historical night as he walked the first 3 times up tonight and got an RBI single in the 6th inning.
Lost in th collective shuffle tonight was Gabe Gross’s 11th homer of the season. Gross, who also went 3-4 on the night, hit 2 singles in addition to his solo shot in the 4th inning.  Every Rays player, except for Eric Hinske got a base hit in this game. Hinske was not shut out tho, getting a walk in the 4th inning and scoring on Zorbrists’ grand slam.
Another Ray who will have a huge night to remember was Cliff Floyd. Not because of the foul ball he hit to me in the right field Bullpen area, but  for his 3-4 night that included 2 doubles and a total of 5 RBI’s on the night.
Floyd is certainly showing the way as a Rays veteran this year by hitting by example and running like he was still 25 years old on the basepaths. It is a real joy to watch this guy lumber on to second base and come up with a grin from ear-to-ear after the play.  We really found a rare diamond in the rough with him in the clubhouse this season. Because he has been to the playoffs and the World Series before, Floyd will be a overflowing source of information and a great example of courage under fire in the coming month, and beyond.
There have been a few whispers of Floyd maybe not coming back for a second season with the Rays. I think if he is having the kind of fun he is having right now with this young ballclub. If he does decide to forego his final year with the Rays, you can bet it will be because of injury, and not the lack of desire to want to be next to the Rays young players for the next few years.

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