Results tagged ‘ Doug Brocail ’

Balfour and Gross Come to Terms with Rays



With the deadline coming up fast for arbitration, the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten two of their eligible players signed to contracts for 2009. The Rays announced late tonight that reliever Grant Balfour has agreed to a one-year , $1.4 million dollar contract. He was the second Rays player to sign in recent days joining right fielder Gabe Gross, who signed for one-year, $ 1.255 million dollar deal on Weds. 


That leaves the Rays with only three players who might be going to the arbitration table to exchange figures for their 2009 season. Rays 2008 MVP shortstop Jason Bartlett, starting catcher Dioner Navarro and utility infielder Willy Aybar are the only unsigned arbitration eligible players left for the A L Pennant winning Rays. 




Most people will remember Balfour in 2008 as the Rays player who most resembles a patient from a mental institution based on his on-the-mound antics of cursing and screaming at himself. But besides that behavior,Balfour had a career season in 2008 after not making the Rays roster out of spring training for the Rays. The hard throwing Aussie went down to the Durham Bulls on April 2nd, and immediately began to work on his return to the Rays. While in Durham, Balfour appeared in 15 games in Durham and posted a 1-0 record and an outstanding .038 ERA, with 8 saves for the Bulls. On May 29, 2008, the Rays bought Balfours contract from the Bulls and he was brought up to replace Troy Percival, who began his first 15-day Disabled List visit for a left hamstring strain.


For the year, Balfour pitched in 17 of the Rays last 34 games of the season. During that stretch, he pitched  scoreless relief appearances in 15 of his last 16 appearances.  For the year, Balfour tied with J P Howell for the team lead in relief wins with 6, which was one win off the team’s current relieving record.  During 2008, Balfour lead all MLB relievers with a 12.66 strikeouts per 9 innings  pitched ratio, and also struck out 36 percent of the batters he faced in 2008, also tops in the majors.




His ending 1.54 ERA was the 4th best in the American League, and his .143 opponents batting average was best in the American League, but only  second best  in the majors behind only Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs, who posted a .136 for the season. Balfour allowed only 3 home runs and 11 extra base hits all year long. His .230 Slugging Percentage was the second best average in the American League behind Joey Devine ( .168 ) of the Oakland A’s. 


During a second Disabled List visit by Percival in July for another left hamstring strain, Balfour earned 3 of his 4 saves in 2008. If you combined his time with the Rays and the Bulls in 2008, Balfour went 7-2, saved 12 of 13 save chances, with a 1.23 ERA.  Also of amazement is the fact he held batters’ at both levels to a .123 batting average in 2008. 




In the 2008 postseason, Balfour did not fare as well as during the regular season. The usually confident Balfour ran into trouble and  appeared in 10 games going only 8.2 innings and gave up 11 hits and 6 earned runs during the Rays postseason run. His 6.23 ERA  showed he was battling throughout the postseason with control, further evidenced by his 8 walks and only 7 strikeouts during the playoffs.




Outfielder Gabe Gross came to the Rays in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on April 22, 2008. In his last game with the Brewers the night before, he came around to score the winning run in the team’s victory. To obtain Gross, the Rays sent minor league pitcher Josh Butler to the Brewers. During the course of the season, Gross began to platoon in right field with Eric Hinske and Jonny Gomes and was a key defensive substitution for the Rays in later innings in games.

Gross started in 78 of the 141 games since he was acquired from the Brewers. 4 of those starts were in center field  for the Rays. He entered the game 39 times in 2008 as a late inning substitution. During 2008, he hit a career high 13 home runs. His prior career best  season total was 9 home runs in 2006, with the Brewers.  Gross hit a monster 437-foot 2-run home run on  August 6th against the Cleveland Indians to tie the score for the Rays. During the 2008 season, Gross was credited with 5 outfield assists in right field.




Tampa Bay went on to win 10-7 on a 3-run blast by Carlos Pena later in that inning. Gross also combined to hit .293 in August with 4 home runs and 11 RBI’s for the team.  During the 2008 season, Gross had 3 walk-off RBI’s tying the clubs record for a single season.  The first came on May 13th against the New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera when he singled home Jonny Gomes for the winning run. The came his walk-off homer against Matt Thronton and the Chicago White Sox.  This homer was also his first homer off a left hander in his career. The last one came on June 21st against Houston Astros reliever Doug Brocail when he doubled to score the winning run.

During the 2008 postseason, Gross also did not have a very productive post season as he only  appeared in 10 games and went 1-19, with 2 RBI’s to post a .174 average for the playoffs. Gross was responsible for several defensive plays during the postseason playing 61.2 innings and garnishing one outfield assist for the Rays. It is expected in 2009, that Gross will be sued primarily in right field, but could start in center field the first week of the season while B J Upton is  still rehabbing from his off season shoulder surgery. The Rays have primary plans to use Gross as a rightfield starter against right handed pitchers in 2009.


Rays take “Celebration” to New Highs



Rays 4, Astros 3


Kool and the Gang is alive and well during 80’s Night at the Trop. The Band went wild and did their Caribbean Strut last night and reminded all of us why we loved the 80’s.

The hits came again, and again, and the dancing went on almost 7 rows behind me. The crowd was so into this band that if you were not there, you first missed a great ballgame, and you missed Kool and the Gang. I was a College lad in the early 80’s and I danced many a night to these songs in the low lite bars of Gainesville and the Tampa area hideaways.

It made me remember what I love about my early life. Clean, simple music with a message and a meaning.  Do not foget, on July 5th, the band Loverboy will be at the Trop trying to get everyone ready for the weekend, and I will be loving every minute of it ( sorry for the word puns).


Triva Fact of the Night:

On October,9,1951, Gil McDougald became the first rookie to hit a grand slam in a Wrold Series game.



During the game Saturday night, the Astros’ Carlos Lee came into Akinora Iwamura with a intended slide to disrupt his throw to first.

As you can see in the picture above, the umpires got it wrong when they decided the baserunner did not intentionally try and take out Aki outside the  2nd basepath area. The photo clearly shows Lee trying to do everything but take Aki down for a 3-point wrestling take-down.

Such a move is commendable if it is on-line with the base, and in the course of a game, used to disrupt, not hurt another player.

Lee might not intended for the play to go as violent as it did, but the end result was only a single out on the play instead of a sure double play.

If Lee had done the professional thing, and slide into the bag high and not outward toward the throw to take out the baseman outside the basepath. 

 Bush league in all the wrong ways here, in my opinion.




Rays starter Edwin Jackson pitched 6.1 innings and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs to the Astros. Jackson seemed to be in better control of his fastball tonight and used his off speed stuff to compliment the fasrball. Edwin is showing improvement everytime he steps on the mound for the Rays. Consider again, he was 0-8 last year at this time and had a ERA hovering above 6.0.



Cliff Floyd started the Rays 9th with a nice single to center to put hope into the Rays’ hopeful in the 9th inning.

Rays’ manager Joe Maddon has a way with his pinch-hitting results this season. More than once this season, the Rays savante’ has garnished fantastic results with his computer aided guidiance.

Saturday night might just be his best “braintrust” decision of his career with the Rays.  In the bottom of the 9th inning against Astros’ big time closer Doug Brocail, Maddon sent not one but 3 straight pinchhitters to the plate. What he got might make Casey Stengel proud.

Eric Hinske came up and batted for Justin Ruggiano in the 9th. Hinske responded with a single to left.

Maddon then sent up Dioner Navarro for Shawn Riggans. Navarro is hit by a pitch and threw a bit of dramatic overkill to the event.



Dioner took the hit-by-pitch ball like a  .38 slug to the shoulder area. Twisting and turning from the umpires view.  Oscar for Navvy next year. 

With 2 Rays on first and second, Joe Maddon again rolls the dice and send up Gabe Gross to hit for Jason Bartlett. 

Gross takes the first pitch and drills a  2-run double down the left field line that settles near the Visitor’s Bullpen mound in Left. Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske score and the Rays agaib pull off a cardiac win over the Astros.  Maddon’s pinchhitters went 3-3, with 2 RBIs on the night.




And Gross, for the third time this season, is the guy in the middle of the pile. Tell me that the Rays did not have a crystal ball when they asked about aquiring Gross from the Brewers’ earlier this season.


Lost in all this excitement was Justin Ruggiano’s 2-3 night with an RBI. Ruggiano picked up first homer with a shot to left in the 5th inning. He also got a nice single to right in the 7th, but was stranded on third for the Rays.


Carl Crawford also got his 5th triple of the year putting him in a tie with Baltimore’s Brian Roberts for the AL lead.  Willy Aybar scored on Crawford’s triple to give Carl his 38th RBI of the year.




The Rays 7 Walk-off wins are tied with the Reds for the most in the majors this year. Gabe Gross has tied a club single season record with his 3rd Walk-off hit of the year. He is tied with Fred McGriff (2000), and Travis Lee ( 2003).

The Cardinals Skip Schumaker also has three Walk-off  hits this season, and has the same sequence of hits as Gross. A single, double and a home run.