Rays Win First Half of Twinbill 5-2
With the Rays winning the first game of the doubleheader, I thought it might be interesting to hit up Mapquest and see how long it would take to maybe take a road trip to Detroit Michigan and check out Comerica Park for the last series of the year for the Rays. It was easy enough to find the exact address of the ballpark, and I just popped it into the computer and printed out the directions and the distance.
Well, the distance is 1,190 miles of mostly Interstate driving. That is right, I could put the car on cruise control and drive as long as I did not fall asleep at the wheel some time during the 19 hour trip. So I extimated that I would have to leave my house in Clearwater, Florida by maybe, noon on Wed. to give myself about 5 hours of leeway in case of muchies or a traffic accident in Atlanta at rush hour.
You see, the great thing about Detroit is it is almost a complete straight line up from where I live on Interstate 75. All I have to do is hit the old Courtney Campbell Bridge and go over to Tampa and get on I-275 and head north until I hit Motown. Now I can’t just pop off and leave like that tomorrow, but I would have been nice to be up there and surprise the guys in the Bullpen on Thursday’s afternoon game. But, I have a few errands to attend to, plus I have to go down to the Trop and pick up my Playoff tickets for the ALDS game 1 and 2 in the morning.
By the way, if you have not heard already, Game 1 is an official sell-out except for a few odd and end seats being reserved for 2009 Season Ticket depositors’. At the end of the first game of the doubleheader, I went online with my special password for the day to purchase tickets and found only about 500 seats were left for general purchase for Game 2. By the time I get this onto the website and into MLBogs.com, the game might be an officla sell-out also.
If by some chance there is a few hundred or so availiable, they will go on sale at 9 A.M. tomorrow on www.raysbaseball.com . I would not hold mt breath unless you have already put down as little as $ 50.00 for your 2009 Season Ticket deposit. That might be the only way to still secure some seats for the upcoming ALDS games held at Tropicana Field. I got mine today at 9 A.M., hopefully you did also, or you will have to watch on your HDTV at home or in your local watering hole.
Rays Magical Number: 3
This number is a combination of Rays wins and Boston losses to secure the Rays first AL East title
The Rays sent their big game pitcher out to begin this long day of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. James Shields like to be known as “Big Game James” by his teammates, and he came out and pitched a masterpiece as the Rays won the front half of the doubleheader, 5-2 against the Orioles. Shields came into the game for his 32ns start of the season, which is a new career high for Shields. He is currently the only Rays pitcher to ever throw two seasons of 200 plus innings of baseball. This season against the Orioles, Shields has gone 3-1 against the O’s, with a 3.27 ERA. The Rays are also perfect with Shields on the mound against the Orioles, going 4-0 this year.
In today’s game, Shields came out early and tried to dominate the game, but the Orioles had a different gameplan for Shields. In the 1st inning, Shileds gave up a walk and a single to Nick Markakis and Adam Jones before gaining his composure and sent Aubrey Huff and Oscar Salazar back to the bench with strikeouts.
In the 2nd inning, the Orioles touched Shields for the only runs he would give up all day. Luke Scott struck out to start the inning, but got on base after a passed ball by Dioner Navarro.
The Orioles would quickly make Navarro pay for that mistake when Lou Montanez took the 2nd pitch he saw from Shields and deposited it in the leftfield stands for an early 2-0 Orioles lead. For the day, Shields went 7 innings and gave up 8 hits and 2 runs in his start. For his effort, Shields got his 14th win of the season tying former Rays Rolando Arroyo for the team wins record as a pitcher at 14. With 5 games remaining in the year, Shields might not get another start this season before the playoffs begin in October.
6 through 9 Hitters
The Rays 6-9 hitters were on fire today for the team. For the game they went a combined 9-13, and scored all 5 Rays runs in the game. They also contributed to 4 of the 5 RBI’s in the game. The barrage was led by Dioner Navarro, who was hitting in the 6th slot and went 2-5 on the day, with 2 runs scored. Navarro doubled to left to start the 5th inning and ended up scoring on a Wild Pitch by Orioles starter Garrett Olson to score the first Rays run of the day.
In the 7th spot, Ben Zobrist went 1-3, with a single to right in the 8th inning. Zobrist ended up scoring in the inning after a attempted bunt single by Fernando Perez was misplayed by Orioles reliever Alberto Castillo.
In the 8th spot, Jason Bartlett went 3-4 in the game, with 2 RBI and 1 run scored for the Rays. Bartlett began his day by reaching on a throwing error by Oriole’s shortstop Alex Cintron in the 3rd inning. Bartlett then singled to center in the 5th inning and escaped from a sure out at second on a bad throw by Castillo to second baseman Brian Roberts.
When Fernando Perez doubled to left, Bartlett scored to tie the game at 2-all. In the 6th inning, Bartlett hit a double to lect that scored Navarro and put the Rays up 3-2 in the game. He then singled to right in the 8th inning, but did not score for the Rays.
In the 9-slot, Fernando Perez went 3-3 on the day and had 2 RBI’s and a run scored in the contest. Perez started his day by putting down a sacrifice bunt to third base in the 3rd inning. He then got on base in the 5th inning by doubling to left on a ball hit beyond the reach of Scott, and the ball bounced to the outfield wall. Bartlett scored on the play for the Rays to put the score at 2-2.
Perez then singled to right to open the Rays 7th inning. Perez ended up scoring on Carlos Pena drive to leftfield in the inning. Hius last hit was a bad bunt single that Orioles pitcher Alberto Castillo misplayed in the air and could not convert the out.
Rays Errors and Mistakes
For the most part, the first game did not have alot of drama or misplays. But it did have a few plays that could have changed the course of the game. In the 6th inning, Ben Zobrist tried to score on Bartlett’s double to left and was thrown out at the plate by Montanez. At the time, the score was only 3-2 Rays, and the error in judgement could have come back to haunt the Rays.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Jeff Fahey hit a 1-2 pitch to the base of the scoreboard in rightfield. Perez could have made a play on the ball on the warning track, but let the ball hit and Fahey got a double on the play. Fahey was standing on third base waiting for a hit through the hole when Huff hit into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning. At the time, the score was 2-all in the game.
Odds and Ends
Today is the 14th time the Rays have played a doubleheader, and it is the second one in 7 days. In the most recent day/night doubleheader, the Rays split the games with the New York Yankees. The Rays have never won both bills of a doubleheader in their short history. They have been swept 6 times, and have split the games 7 times. This will be the Rays 3rd doubleheader against the Orioles at Camden Yards. They split a pair on August 26, 2000, and lost both games on July 5, 2004.
This win ties the Rays with the 1991 Atlanta Braves as the only 2 teams to ever go to the playoffs after going from worst to first in their divsion the following season. The Rays also tied the 1991 Braves for the most wins by a team that had the worst record the prior year.
If the Rays win 3 out of their last 7 games to go 96-66, they will have reversed their record from last season ( 66-96) amd finish with a 30 game improvement over the last season. Only 9 teams since 1900 have improved 30 plus games from one season to the next. The Rays are also 1 of 4 team to ever win 93 plus wins after 10 plus years of consecutive losing seasons.
The Rays Bullpen again came through for the Rays by pitching 2 innings of no-hit ball to secure the 94th win of the season for the Rays. Grant Balfour came on in the 8th inning and got 2 strikeouts on 16 pitches in the inning. Balfour has struck out 6 percent of the batters he has faced this season, which is tops in the major leagues. His 1.42 ERA is currently tied with the Twins Joe Nathan for second in the majors.
Dan Wheeler then came on and threw a scoreless 9th inning to get his 1th save of the season. his 285 appearances since 2005 is tied for 6th among active relievers in the majors. His 26 holds is currently only 4 shy of the major league lead held by Scott Shields of the L A Angels. Dan was the 34th pick of the Rays in the innaugural draft in 1996 and is in his 2nd tour with the team.