Results tagged ‘ Shawn Riggans ’

Garza Just Misses Immortality



Rays 6, Marlins 1


It was reported on the Montgomery Advertiser yesterday that Rays uber prospect Jake McGee will  have to undergo season ending elbow surgery next week. The Biscuit starter was put on the DL a few days ago, but an MRI revealed a torn elbow tendon and a ommyJohn’s surgery looks to be in McGee’s future.


This could have been a huge blow to the Montgomery Biscuits third straight SAL title, but the Rays had promoted David Price and Jeremy Hellickson days earlier and should fit both into the rotation without a problem.  McGee flew to Tampa to see the Rays orthopedic doctor, Koko Eaton, nd was to see r. James Andrews after the weekend to confirm the diagnosis.  If he requires Tommy John’s surgery, McGee will be lost for up to a year and a half for the Rays minor league system.



Trivia Fact of the Night:

In 1953, respected and innovative National League umpire Bill Klem was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.






Rays starter Matt Garza (6-4) will remember this game against the Florida Marlins for a long time. Not because he got his 6th victory of the season, or the first complete game of his career, but for the lone floating slider that changed the day for him and the Rays. There is still no doubt that te series sweep of the Marlins in Miami made for a fantastic airline flight to Pittsburgh, but what might hve been will be in his head for a few days.




On the first pitch that Marlin’s shortstop Hanley Ramirez saw in the bottom of the 7th inning, he drilled into the leftfielder bleachers above the huge scoreboard. It was the only pitch that Garza would want to take back all day long. It took not only his shutout away, but a chance at Rays immortality………. a no-hitter. 




According to the Elias Baseball Bureau, It was the first complete-game no-hitter or one-hitter with a double-digit strikeout total in the majors this season. There was only one such pitching performance in each of the last three seasons: by Chris Carpenter in 2005, John Lackey in 2006 and Justin Verlander in 2007.




The Rays are now a franchise high of 15 games over .500, and have 4 more vicotries than they have ever achived before the All-Star break in the teams short history. They are also 7 games better than they have ever been after 77 games.


The Rays have been above .500 for 57 straight days and 61 total for the season, both club records.  Prior to this season, the Rays have been above .500 for only a combined 72 days in the last 10 years.




Rays rookie Evan Longoria has been given many nicknames in the last few months, “Evan Almighty,” “The Natural”, and “Longo”. The last one is a reference to an Alex Karas character in “Blazin’ Saddles,” and Evan might just be fitting of the name.


He is one of the main reason this team has been on a roll the past two months. Since coming u from Triple-A, the Rays have been pretty hard to beat every night, which is a rareity in Tampa Bay. 


Yesterday just added to the ever increasing legend that is “Longo:”


Evan Longoria had three hits (two doubles and a home run) in the Rays’ win on Thursday, after notching three hits (a single, double and homer) in Tampa Bay’s 15-3 win over the Marlins on Wednesday night. Longoria is the fourth player in Rays franchise history to have consecutive games with at least three hits and one home run. The other Tampa Bay players to do that were Aubrey Huff (2004), Jorge Cantu (2005) and B.J. Upton (2007).


The Rays are now 9-5 in Interleague this season their highest total since 2006 when they had 11 wins. With a sweep in Pittsburgh they can establish another record this season for total victies in Interleague play.


Along with Longoria and Garza’s efforts, came the bat of back-up catcher Shawn Riggans for the Rays.  Riggans has seen very limited action this year with the emergence of Dioner Navarro both at the plate and behind it for the Rays.


Riggans responded going 1-3 with 3 RBI’s for the Rays.  Riggans hit a sacrifice fly in the seond to score B J Upton from third, and hit a double to deep centerin the 5th inning to score Upton and Longoria.


Shawn also called a great game behind the plate for the Rays, that only saw Garza in trouble a few times theentire game. Garza only walked one Marlin, Jeremy Hermida, in the 4th inning.


Shortstop Ben Zobrist also hit his second homer in two days in the 8th innig to complete the scoring for the Rays.  Zobrist is now hitting .292 since coming up for the Rays.


With the expected return of both Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena on Friday in Pittsburgh, th Rays will have to make some roster moves befre the Friday night game. 


I am thinking we might see Troy Percival go on the DL for another 15 days, and itwill not be his decision.  That will either happen, or a Rays relievers’ will be sent down or put on waivers and hopefully pass through to stay with the team.


And I think based on the numbers and the experiecetis year, Ben Zobrist might be the odd gy out unless atrade can be reached for another infielder on the team. I kowthat Zobrist needs consistency in his routine, and it is a shame he will/has to be the fall guy this time.

Worst case is the fact he has only been off the DL for 7 games now, both  in Durham and Tampa Bay, and might need a bit more seasoning to get I great game shape for th team.  Let’s hope that all goes well and something truly positive can come out of all this for every player involved in the roster moves.


Tonight we start a 3-game series in Pittsburgh. I want to tell you about a unique thing they do in the Steel City before every game. They close the Roberto Clemente bridge to auto traffic and let the stadium patrons walk the bridge o the stadium. It is one of the truly unique things in baseball. You get to travel the roads on foot to the ballpark before and after the game…..without dodging traffic.


The Rays are visitng PNC park for the second time in their history, losing 2 of 3 in June 2005. They are 2-4 All-Time against the Pirates, who have former Ray  infielder Chris Gomez playing for them this year.



The Pirate will be bringing up rookie Jimmy Barthmaier for his MLB debut against the Rays. Barthmaier, a 13th-round Draft pick in 2003, will be making his first Major League appearance when he makes Friday’s start for the Pirates. The right-hander has combined to go 4-5 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 Double-A and five Triple-A starts. In his most recent start, Barthmaier threw six innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out eight. He has shown better control with both his fastball and breaking ball since being promoted to Triple-A in late May, allowing just six walks in 31 2/3 innings.


Look closely at the picture above of Barthmaier. Is it jus me, or are there not color to his pupils in the picture.  Might be a Vulcan robot plant to supress the Rays victory celebrations.   Just Kidding, he might just have some wild contact lens for gamedays.  Can we get the entire pitching staff  a set of those Joe?



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. 


Rays win in Walk-off fashion……………….Again


Rays 4, White Sox 3

After the Chicago White Sox’s thirs straight loss to the surging Tampa Bay Rays, White Sox manager called for General Manager Ken Williams to make changes to the club before Tuesdays home game against the Kansas City Royals’

In an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune, Williams said he wasn’t pleased.

“It’s just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I have had his,” Williams wrote. “I expect this team, if the leadership remains positive and the players stick together and continue to play hard, it will be a fun summer.”

Guillen’s frustration boiled over after a 10th innig walk-off homer by the Rays Gabe Grosss sent the White Sox home without winning a series from the Rays. In the first series of the year, the White Sox won the series and their pitching got them that victory. This time, the Sox offense was stymied by the Rays and the pitching had unfamiliar breakdowns.


Trivia Fact of the Night:

Outfielder Al Simmons real name is Aloysius Szymanski.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Poster

                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly


                                                  The Good

Gabe Gross is making a statement that he loves playing with these young guys. He is also letting his bat do the talking for him the last month. In Sundays series closing win against the Chicago White Sox, Gross did everything right offensively for the Rays.


He accounted for all three of the four RBI’s, adding a 2-run triple to the mix in the 5th innig by hitting ball in the gap in right center and scoring Jonny Gomes and  Shawn Riggans. Gorss came up in the bottom of the 10th, and was the only ray to bat that inning. Gross hit a long drive that rightfielder Jermain Dye just looked up at to beat the Sox and send the Rays to their 35th victory of the year.


Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

***  The Rays reserve players made a statement on Sunday by filling in offensively for their counterparts by going 5-10 for the Day.

Jonny Gomes (1-2), Shawn Riggans (2-4), and Gabe Gross ( 2-4) helped score 3-4 runs scored by the Rays. B J Upton got the other run scored on a Carlos Pena single in the 4th inning.

**  Carlos Pena, who is slowly coming out of his offensive slump got his 32nd RBI today. Pena is slowly starting to crank up his production numbers and played is usual superb defensive self in the ballgame.

I chat with J P Howell every chance I get this season. the guy is a bright guy who is so energetic if you talk to him. That is a 180 degree look compared to last year when he did not know his role on this squad and was reserved and quiet to most of the Fans.

This year he is slapping hands and chatting up the rightfield faithful on his way to  “Wheeler’s Watering Hole” my personal name for the Bullpen’s area beyond the rightfield walls.

Howell is 4-0 for the season, and is mixing his pitches extremely well and getting the out his sqaud needs to stay in contention most night. Sunday, he pitched 2 innings of 1-hit ball for the Rays.

 J P is the youngest member of the Rays’ Bullpen and has appeared in 37.1 innings this season, tops in the American League.


                                           The Bad

Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine has been inconsistant the last three starts fir the Rays.  Andy has lost his last two starts, allowing 19 hits, 14 runs ( 9 earned) in 11 innings of work for a 7.36 ERA.

This recent skid came on the heels of his career high 5 game winning streak, the longest on the staff this season before Scott Kazmir equaled it Saturday night. Sonnanstine seems to have has control, but at times doesn’t have the placemtn on his breaking pitches he had in prior starts.

Sonnanstine needs to regain that form for the Rays to be successful on this upcoming long road trip against Boston, Texas and the LA Angels.

                                         The Ugly

It has been quite awhile since B J Upton has made a baserunning blunder. I am going to give him half blame for the pickoff by White Sox’s starter Mark Buehrle . Upton was caught 15 feet off first by Buehrle in the bottom of the 1st inning. This is the 6th time he has been caught  stealing this season, and the fourth where he was caught off the base and  leaning to steal a base this season.


Just a reminder that the Thursday game aginst the Boston Red Sox has been moved to 6:05 P.M. because of the pending NBA finals game in Boston that night. The game was moved up to ease traffic situation in the city between fans trying to attend either event.


Kazmir Sends Yankees Out of Town With a Frown


Rays 5, Yankees 2


You know what is so weird about an afternoon game, you are not hungry when you get there. But when you leave, you are screaming for the nearest drive-thru window.

I did the next best thing today and did the $5 Subway Sub to honor the “dive” the Yankees have done so far this year. I am sorry we beat you three times and sent you to the AL East cellar. Check out the dunegeon bar and grill, they have fine chicken wings, but are hot as hell.



Trivia Fact of the Night:

On July 4th 1939,
Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees, was the first man to have his number(4) retired.




The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PostersThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Posters


                                         The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly


                                               The Good


Rays starter Scott Kazmir(2-1), who just inked a serious contract extention pitched a gem to show not onl,y good faith in the signing, but a sign of things to come for the power lefty. Scott pitched 6 innings of 3-hit shutout ball before leaving after throwing 100 pitches exactly today. At the time he left the game,  the Rays had a 5-0 lead for Kazmir.  Scott also struck out only three today, while walking three. It seemed he was in control of his primary pitches, but was having a bit of trouble with his slider today.


Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:


*** Aki Iwamura, who just finished a 11-game hitting streak got the scoring started with a  solo blast to right in the first innig to get the scoring started for the Rays. Aki also went 2-3 and scored two runs today. Aki has lifted his average to .265. That is 55 point better than a week ago, and he is getting better at bats and pitches right now.


** Rays closer extrodinare Troy Percival put hid own personal stamp on tonight’s win. Troy entered the game in the top of the 9th and retired the first two batters with strikeouts before Johnny Damon hit a fly ball to Carl crawford to end the game, and give Percival his 10th save of the year. Percival is slowly gaining on Rollie Fingers, who is next in line on the All-Time saves list for Percival.


* I call this guy the “Brad Pitt” of the minors. He is so devil-may-care, and totally likeable you wanrt him to succeed. With the success of Dioner Navarro lately, Shawn Riggans has seen his playing time go to a crawl. But after today, 2-3 performance, Rays manager Joe Maddon might have two options at catcher in the coming weeks. Riggans helped his cause with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 4th, that also scored Eric Hinske. Riggans is now hitting .250, but also scored two runs to go along with his two RBI’s.


                                                 The Bad


Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett was a late scratch today  to take care of a family matter. Rays super sub, Ben Zobrist saw his first action of the year since coming off the DL this week. Zobrist looked a bit aprehensive at the plate and went 0-2 today. Ben is a great defensive shortstop, and  made several key plays today.

Carlos Pena is still having trouble getting the men in scoring position home today. Carlos had two opportunites today and struck out twice today. Pena is leading the AL in strikeouts with 50.


                                             The Ugly


I know the flight from Tampa to New York is usually about 3 hours long, but I can feel the tension that this one will feel like an allnighter for the Yankee team. Yankee honco Hank Steinbrenner the other day called out the players by saying “They should play like the Rays”.

I do not know where he is getting that, but I hope he means that the Rays are playing hustle, no-quit baseball with a agressive batting style.

I know that several key Yankees are hurt or rehabbing and will be aback soon, but the lack of adequate replacemtns shows the team’s farm system woes right now. The Yankees promoted two minor relievers this week from their lower  minor league squads to hasten their learning curve and hope to be a help come Summer time.

 It is going to be a long couple of months in NY until all players are healthy and their pitching situation is stabilized to suit the owner’s box.

I expect to see a few heads roll in the mean time, and I would not be putting my neck out to say, Jose Molina might not be the back-up catcher for long.  Before todays game, the Yankees sent reliever Kei Igawa to the minors to bring Ian Kennedy in for today’s game.


Former Rays Players’ of the Night:

Being that this is a early blog post, since it was a day game today, I have not gotten the finishing totals of all players in the MLB tonight.

So, with that in mind, I was thinking of just listing 10 former Rays’ players tonight and their respective teams for 2008:


Marlon Anderson                                                New York Mets

Chad Gaudin                                                     Oakland A’s starter

Doug Waechter                                                  Florida Marlins reliever

Mark Hendrickson                                            Florida Marlins  starter

Geoff Blum                                                       Houston Astros utility guy

Ty Wiggington                                            Houston Astros third baseman

Brandon Backe                                                Houston Astros starter

Damion Easley                                                New York Mets infielder

Shawn Camp                                                   Toronto Blue Jays reliever

Seth McClung                                                 Milwaukee Brewers reliever

Rays Ace Beaten by a Pair of Soxs’


Rays 3, Red Sox 7


I just got word from the Rays that this weekend is the Rays Team photo shoot with yours truly. So when they get back home this Friday or Sat., I will be on the turf with the guys when they do their yearly photo for the fans.  I am overly excited by this and can not wait for the event.  What to wear, what to wear?




Trivia Fact of the Night:

When sluggers Hank Greenberg andRalph Kiner joined the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team moved in the left field fence by 30 feet.




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                                        The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly




                                              The Good


What we saw Sunday afternoon was Carlos Penas’ only homer in the last 66 at-bats. Pena had been stuck on 6 homers since April 12th.  Rays manager Joe Maddon has been telling the media that Carlos will come out of this funk, that do not count him out.

Welcome Back Carlos………………We need to see that power dude.


Honorable mention “Good” guys:


*** Carl Crawford went 1-5 today and picked up ans RBI to up his total to 18 for the year. Carl hit a single to left that scored Aki Iwamura. Carl is hitting .287 right now.


** Jason Bartlett went 2-5 on the day with two singles. On the second single he was on base when Aki Iwamura drove him in with a triple. Jason has upped his average to .243, and has been the most consistant Ray in this series.




* Aki Iwamura hit a monster shot to center that was not played well by Coco Crisp. Iwamura ended up with a triple and recorded a RBI for the day. Aki, who went 2-5 is hitting .221 right now.




                                                    The Bad


Rays starter Scott Kazmir only lasted 4 innings and threw 90 pitches in his first start since coming off the DL. I am not going to bash Scott, or the performance, because his best stuff did not show up today and he is going to need a start or two to get into game mode.


It would have been nice to win one game up in Fenway, but the important thing is Scott was battling and adjusting all day. He threw mostly fastballs and carefully guarded using his slider in the game. I do not think it is for lack of confidience or fatigue, but for conservation of his pitches that he had good command of in that game. 



 K azmir will get better, and the Rays are a better team with him on the mound. Today was just one of those pitching performances that a pitcher wishs he could just rewind and forget.




                                                   The Bad


Today was a day that both the manager and the team wishes could be a mulligan. No matter what happened today to the Rays either positive or negative, they were not in the game at any juncture today.  I really feel that this Boston club is the one team that ill give the Rays fits all year long, both in the standings and on the field.





Since we play each other 17-odd times a year, it is a pre-destined thing that a series can blow up on a team like this one.  We did that honor to them last weekend, they returned the favor today.




Former Rays player of the Night:



Today’s former Rays player is current outfielder with the Atlanta Braves, Matt Diaz.    He is pictured above scoring on a Kelly Johnson double as Cincinnati Reds catcher Paul Bako handles the late throw to the plate.


Matt went 1-1 in the game,  on an infield single to third in the third inning. Diaz is hitting 297 for the season.




Mental Errors Cost Rays


Rays 5, Twins 6



Trivia fact for the Night:

Eddie Matthews is the only person to play for a franchise in three cities: Boston, Milwalkee,and Atlanta





                                     The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly


                 Jonny Gomes upends Twins second baseman Brendan Harris on a stolen base attempt, but Harris hangs on to make the out.


                                           The Good


Top “Good” honors go to the Rays offense tonight who  produced 10 hits  tonight off  Twins pitchers. Leading the charge tonight with Homeruns were: Carl Crawford(2), Shawn Riggans(2),and Eric Hinske(3).


Honorable Mentions for the Night:

* The Rays also activiated lefty  Kurt Birkins from the DL. Birkins came in to pitch in the 6th inning and retired the first four batters he saw on 9 pitches.


** B J Upton hit a single to center that score Carl Crawford to help the Rays regain the lead 3-2 in the Top of the 5th inning. Upton’s hit helped him raise his average to .304 for the season.

*** Carl Crawford also hit a double  in the game and raised his average to .239.  Crawford also scored two runs and had an RBI himself tonight.


                                                    The Bad


Dan Wheeler did not deserve the loss tonight to the Twins. Mental mistakes or shortcomings by Rays outfielders made the difference in the game tonight. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Delmon Young singles to center. Former Ray, Brendan Harris is the next to bat.


Brendan lifted a ball to the rightfield fouline that should have been caught by Hinske. Hinske can not sprint to the ball, and  it drops in for a single that advanced Delmon to third base. Twins third baseman Mark Lamb then hit a sacrifice fly to left that Crawford caught in foul territory,  Delmon then tagged up and scored to regain the lead 6-5 for the Twins.


If Crawford had let that foul ball drop to the turf, Delmon would not have been able to advance to score the winning run. Of course this is all hindsight because we do not know what type of out /hit Mark Lamb might have produced after that swing.


For that reason alone, the two critical defensive lapses, Dan Wheeler,  should not have had to take a loss in this contest..


                                         The Ugly


I have three minor “Uglies” to mention tonight.


*** Jason Bartlett again produced an error on the throw to first against Delmon Young in the bottom of the 5th inning. The reason this is big, Delmon recieved two RBI’s when Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau scored to up the score to 5-3 Twins. 


Worst yet, there were 2 outs at the time. A good throw to Carlos Pena would have ended the inning with the score still 3-3. By the Way, Bartlett improved his average to .196 for the year.


** Carlos Pena went 0-3 tonight and saw his average sink to .185. In a year where we are seeing hitters like Boston’s David Ortiz and the Yankees Robinson Cano, the hitting of Pena is staggering to this potential offense. 


I know Carlos is seeing alot more off-speed and breaking balls because of his quick Home Run start, but the guy is a professional and the adjustments need to be made now before they get to his mind.


*  Defensive lapses have cost us a few games this season. Tonight’s contest is not exception to that rule. Two outfield mental errors gave way to the winning run for the Twins.


Another throwing error, Bartlett’s third of the season led to the Twins taking the lead in the 5th inning.  Ben Zobrist must be kicking himslef for his injury right now, because he would be the starting shortstop on my squad without a doubt right now.


Former Rays Player of the Night:


When the Rays traded lefty pitcher Mark Hendrickson to the L A Dodgers, they might have thought they would not see the tall guy for a while. Hendrickson caught on with the cross state rival, the Florida Marlins and improved his record to 3-1 for the year. Mark worked 5.1 inning tonight with 6 hits and 3 runs.


ALERT: At the time of my blog, Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton was 4-7 with 2 RBI’s in their game with the Toronto Blue Jays, but since that game went  into extra innings (14) , I took the big guy from the fish for my nightly former Rays guy.


The Empire Strikes Back…..Again


Yankees 5, Rays 3


                                Click Image to Enlarge

I give credit where credit is due.  The Evil Empire came in and played two great game against us. Now back to the blog.


Trivia Fact of the Night:

The Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to purchase their own airplane in January 1957.


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                                         The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly.


                                           The Ageless Good  


I have to admit, when the Rays
announced earlier in the Spring that they signed Mike DeFelice to a
minor league contract, I thought it might be as a coach. As many of you
know, Mike was one of the original  catchers with the 1997 team.
DeFelice has been around the block a few times and has had his shares
of ups and downs.

But, this season when Dioner
Navarro went down with his freak accident in New York, it was a godsend
that Mike was there to fill the spot. Since he has come on, De Felice
has hit .429 in his short time up with the Rays this season. In that time, Mike has collected 4
RBI’s in his 10 at bats. That is right, Mike has only batted 14 times
this season and has driven in 4 runs as a backup to Shawn Riggans.
DeFelice is also carrying a .929 OPS with him this time up with the

Mike is a superb game caller and
is an instant coach for these young pitchers. He has the insight and
the ability to see the trouble brewing and try and squash it before it
festers and get nasty.

For that reason, Mike is my main “Good” guy of the night. I do have a few other who needs some press as Honorable Mentions:

***       Rays First baseman Carlos Pena
saved a few runs with his great glove work at first tonight. First he
stopped a rocket off the bat of  the Yankees’  Robinson Cano.  Pena
snuffed the play diving to his left just shy of the line and stepped on
the bag to squash the Yankees efforts in the Top of the 6th Inning.

**       Designated Hitter Jonny Gomes
continues to be on a RBI tear as he had another tonight and went 2-4 to
raise his average to .296.

*       The first star goes to the team
for their display of spirit and team unity by all wearing Jackie
Robinson’s number “42” this season. Last year only Carl Crawford wore
the retired number of the first African-American to play in the MLB.

Robinson played his first Major League game at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“It’s an honor the way certain clubs are wearing 42 — the whole
team, like our team,” Zimmer said. “I just look back and just think of
how lucky I am to play on the same team with him.

“I wasn’t there in the early days, when he really had to go
through hell, as they say; it had lessened by the time I got there, but
it was still tough. He had to be a very strong man, to go through the
whole ordeal that he went through, no doubt.”


                                                        The Bad

Tonight’s game showed a few spots
in the Rays armor that need to improve if this team is to tackle the
upward climb in the American League East. The Rays knocked out 10 hits
tonight, but left 9 men stranded on the base paths.

In order for this team to win “the
close ones”, like the last two games, they will need to figure out that
formula that is missing when the pressure is on for runs.  I am not
demeaning the coaching staff or the players here, I just see a glaring
issue that might just be a simple adjustment in mindset or thinking on
the field at times.

I have all the confidence in the world that this problem will be solved soon, and with great results.

                                    The Ugly


I never saw our team lay down and
quit tonight, or even show signs of let down, but the faces on the
Bullpen bench were speaking volumes from my sight line. It was a face
like, “Here we go again.” That mental clog can fester into a
bad attitude and confidence for our relievers. I know they are not the
kind of guys to quit, or even not make the ultimate performance for
their squad.

I just know from playing on
borderline losing teams in High School and College, that the mindset
can destroy even the best of intentions. I know who;s faces had that
look, and one was inserted in the game tonight.

This team is so much better than
our record. And we better start believing that, or we will be looking
up at four teams the rest of the season. I believe in this team. I have 100
percent confidence in their abilities and skills. And I want to be here
to celebrate the highs with them in September or beyond. 


Let’s Go Rays  (Banging my cowbell)


Former Rays Player of the Night:


Julio Lugo of the Boston Red Sox is my former Rays
player of the night for going 3-4 tonight in the Sox’s 5-3 victory over
the Cleveland Indians. Lugo is currently batting .280 for the season and has 14 hits already for the year.


The Rays are leaving town tonight for the cool confines of the Metro dome for two games against the Minnesota Twins. This is the first regular season series for the teams,
and the first time these teams have played since their big trade this
past off season that sent Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to the North

Both games will be on television, so check your local lisitngs or MLB TV.

See you at the Trop. on Friday to welcome Ozzie Guillen
and his Chicago White Sox into town for a weekend series. This weekend,
former Ray Toby Hall should see action behind the plate.

Garza Goes Down

Instead of a Trivia question during the daily recaps, I will give you a wild
fact to soak in your baseball-filled minds are evolve with your
subconscious fluids to use at any SABRE convention,or for a possible free
beverage at your local pub/wing joint.

During a double header on May 2,1954,  St. Louis Cardinal, Stan Musial became
the first player to hit five (5) Home runs in the same day.

I  have been thinking for about a week on what to use this season to
illustrate the positives, negatives and so forth that happen in every game this


I decided to use my favorite spaghetti western as a basis for my daily look
at the prior night’s contest. I have always been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. My
Dad used to take us on the Sunday night Drive-In movie experience as a kid. This
generation has no idea of the great times, and wild weather, kids and antics
that can happen at an outdoor movie.


The best was sitting on the swings underneath the huge  three story screen
and watching the actors as 100 foot action figures. Anyways, this is the
premiere of the Rays’ “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”






The good is a two-fold version today. Major
kudos  for the Rays’ backup catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggs is hitting the cover
off the ball, and connected last night for a beautiful second row left-center
shot into the seats. Shawn also called a great game behind the plate and is
showing the potential we all knew he had to be our starting catcher. Shawn might
have only 14 at bats this season, but he has a .333 batting average at this
moment and is showing power by having 4 RBI’s and two extra base hits in his 4
hits this season.  Way to go Shawn.

Second is a no-brainer to me. Carlos Pena
might not be picking up where he left off last year, but he is surely hitting
the cover off the ball. Early in the game he hit one of the longest Sacrifice
fly in the Trop in a long time to Ichiro. The ball was only a few feet from the
warning track and was hit on a frozen rope. Of course, later the game he
hit his third homer of the young season to Right field to ignite the crowd.
Carlos now has 6 RBIs to go with his 3 H Rs.



Matt Garza leaves with head trainer Ron Porterfield after a nerve injury in the third.

Matt Garza has had a situation with  a radial
nerve irritation for a long time. He has said he usually can fight the pain and
pitch, but tonight the pain hit a new threshold and he could not control the
ball correctly anymore. He had thrown 4 straight balls to Mariners’ DH Jose
Vidro, and did not seem to be able to hit the edges of the
plate. He immediately called for Rays trainer Ron
Porterfield and after a short discussion with Ron and Joe Maddon, was replaced
by Scott Dohmann. Matt has been placed on the 15 day disabled list at the time
of this posting.

This is bad, since it opens another hole in
the rotation early in the season. What was once a solid top three rotation is
now becoming more patchwork as the days roll by here. The Rays subsequently
recalled pitcher  Jae Kuk Ryu from Durham, but his job will be in t Bullpen, not
to start any of the future games.


                                                And the
Ugly….really Ugly

The Umpire crew was not having a great
night.  Rays catcher Shawn Riggans had  asked for a “timeout” after catching a
foul ball behind the plate off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But the home plate umpire did not register
or grant the timeout. So in a bizzare, but heads up play, Seattles Jose Lopez
tagged up and moved to second to put the Mariners in scoring


Riggans “thought he called timeout,” Maddon said. “That’s a good base running
play by them. You can’t call timeout if the runner’s actually moving,” Maddon said. “The
umpires did the right thing by not permitting time out. There was nothing to
argue right there, but I did want to appeal it. Once I found out specifically
what [home-plate umpire] Marvin [Hudson] thought, I wanted to appeal to see if
the other umpires saw what he saw.”

But that was only the start of the wild and
weird on this opening night. Later in the night, B J Upton laced a beauty
down the rightfield line into the corner where it hit the wall and bounced out
in a wild angle. Upton, who lost his right shoe after leaving the batter’s box,
did not stop at second, but proceeded to slide into third
base. Post game photos and video showed after the
game that B J was safe and did not hit Beltre’s foot blocking the base. He had
snuck in the backdoor on him and was coming up safe when  the third base umpire
called B J out. After a short animated  look at the umpire, BJ headed to the
dugout as manager Joe Maddon was heading to third to debate the

After that, there was a close play at first
that went against the Rays. Throughout the rest of the night, the umpire crew
took a huge vocal response from the home crowd that made me proud. The crowd had
gotten into the game and were very vocal on the Upton play and on any close play
the rest of the night. After the game, as the umpiring crew was
leaving the field, they were met by another chorus of the “boo-birds” until
finally disappearing into the tunnel.


O's 'fun' continues vs. Texas

Ex Ray,and current Baltimore Oriole, Aubrey Huff went 4-4
last night with 4 RBI’s.  Huff’s night did not totally go without controversy.
In the sixth inning, he hit a  long fly ball that hit the yellow line on the top
of the Right field  outfield fence. The play was initially called a three-run
homer, but was overturned by the on field umpiring crew and changed to a two-run
double off the wall. “I initially thought it hit the red part behind the yellow line,” said Huff.
“That’s the way I saw it. I was giving [second-base umpire Sam Holbrook] the
business out there at second. After I came in and looked at the tape and saw
they were right, I was fortunate to get back on second and I said, ‘Sam, I’m
sorry.’ He said, ‘I know, I got it right.’ He knew.”

Huff was blasted by the Orioles fans during the Rays opening series for
comments he made about the town on the nationally syndicated “Bubba the Love
Sponge Show” in the off season. Huff , who is also batting .333 this season,
 might be finally back in the good graces of the Baltimore faithful since his 11
RBI’s is leading the M L B at this posting. By the Way, Aubrey brings his karaoke Krew into the Trop this weekend for a
three game series. Maybe we can have “Huffapaloosa II this weekend at a local
watering hole?

Rays vs Yankees Controversy………..or Just Hustle in the Yard


I have been reluctant to include my trivia questions in the past few blogs because no one seems to want to comment,or even try and figure them out.
Here is a Yankee/Red Sox teaser for your pleasure:

Who has the best lifetime win percentage as a starting pitcher against the New York Yankees?

Answer at the end of the Blog.

I have to weigh in my two pennies on the recent Rays/Yankees debate concerning new Yanks skipper Joe Girardi and a recent home plate collision. If you are wondering what I am referring to, it is the home plate car wreck between Yankees’ catcher, Francisco Cervelli and the Rays’, Elliot Johnson. I understand that most players are not up to par yet with the speed of the game in the early stages of Spring Training.

That the “rookies” or select Minor League players’ invited to the MLB camp, are seeking to open eyes or even earn a coveted roster spot with the big club. Because of this situation,they ( Minor Leaguers’ )might hustle or take a few risks with base running decisions.  They also want to show a willingness to do what is needed to win.
It is in that vein, that I personally feel that Elliott Johnson did what was needed at the moment of the collision. He went into home plate trying to jar the ball out of the catchers mitt to score another run, not with intent to harm,dismember, or cause such a ruckus out of the Yankee camp.

A few days earlier, All-Star Left Fielder,Carl Crawford bulldozed a catcher in a Spring Training game and there was not even a hint of controversy or bad decision making put towards his actions. Of course, in that collision,Crawford was able to jar the ball from the catcher, no one was injured or taken from the game,and the Rays earned a much needed run against their opponent.

Hustle and willingness to do what is needed is what secures these “invitees” a roster spot,or at least another weeks with the big squad before going to the Ray Namoli complex, which is the site of the Minor League camp.
Now Carl did not have to drive himself into the catcher and dislodge the ball on spec, but it showed he is ready to do whatever is needed to win this year. That is a veteran sign that he is here to play and take no prisoners.
And that, gets both the Rays’ fan base and Joe Maddon’s attention.

Earlier in the Yankee game, New York invitee, Bernie Castro was rounding third with Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans squared up on the dish. Castro could have easily dusted Riggans off the plate, but Shawn left a nice hole for Castro to hook slide around his tag. Base running decisions have to be made in a split second. Both players had to assess the situation and do what was needed to score, or pervent a run. Castro, by sliding in under Riggans, scored the only Yankee run of that game.

He did not need to remove Riggans and ball to score. Question is, did Johnson have the same options?  Answer, No, the relay throw was going to beat him to the plate by a stride, and in a Pete Rose-Ray Fosse moment he buried his shoulder into Cervelli.
He could have slide and maybe gotten in there( doubtful),or he could become a Mike Alstott A-train clone and bulldoze the Yankees minor league catcher. We know what his decision was, and I am totally in his corner for what he did.I was an aggressive base runner also in college, and used to not look back when i had to come in rough on a second baseman or a catcher. I did it when I felt it was needed to help the team. Either as a enthusiastic moment, or a game-changing play, it was done in a split second and no regrets could stop the momentum.


I can see why new Yankees skipper Joe Girardi would be a bit flustered or upset about such a play involving two Minor Leaguer’s doing their all to make an impression on their managers.

But, Joe, this part of Spring Training is a time for these guys to show you what they got, and make you remember their names in your nightly meetings with your coaching staff. And all the Minor League guys know that the decision time is nearing for each of them. Johnson will probably not make the Rays’ final 25 man roster, but he made a huge impression on both teams.

Either you are for or against his actions, there is no middle ground here. In his playing days, Joe Girardi was a feisty and gutsy catcher with the Yankees.  He knows what it takes to hold onto the ball in a train wreck situation. That is what I find kind of “whiny” here about the Yankee skipper.  

Remember, this is the manager who told his Florida Marlins’ team owner to, “Shut up!”, when the owner was heckling a umpire during a game. Does that sound like the same guy who whined to the press about the event, and did not even consult or send a message to Rays skipper, Joe Maddon about the collision before the newspapers were printed and on his doorstep.

How many Yankee fans are thinking WWTD right now. (What Would Torre’ Do?).

I know that Girardi is in the infant stage of his managerial career, but is this the thing he wants to be remembered for this Spring?
He has a few holes in his team, and questions that needed to be addressed on personnel and setting his starting rotation.
And he pick this play to spouts off about this?

Both Joes’ have different opinions about the event. Joe Maddon,the Rays’ manager sees it as a rite of Spring basically.  Hard nosed baseball that unfortunately ended in a Yankee injury. (Francisco Cervelli could be out 8-10 weeks with an injury). What would either manager have said if the events was reversed. Johnson was hurt in that play, or Riggans in a prior home plate play.  If Cervelli had dropped the ball and the Rays scored another run to make it a 5-1 win, would it have been different or still have the same effect on Girardi.

I personally think Joe Maddon would not be crying to the heavens wanting the baseball gods to rain displeasure down on anyone. He would have applauded the effort and give kudos for the hard nosed-style of play of Johnson. I am including a video from that game,shot by a Yankee fan. It shows both home plate plays and you can make up your own mind on the issue of the collision.

In closing, I think the comments of Yankee savant and yoda, Don Zimmer speak volumes here: “Of all people – Joe Girardi’s a tough guy, a tough catcher. I don’t know what spring training’s got to do with it,” Zimmer said. “I think he was out of line. That’s the best way I can put it, whether he likes that or not. That’s the way I feel.”

Amen Yankee Yoda, Amen.


I am all for hard play and hustle on the diamond.  If Delmon Young had more hustle than his mouth, he would still be patrolling right field in the Trop for the Rays.


The answer to the Trivia Question is:

Former Yankee great, Babe Ruth. When he was first with the Boston Red Sox, he owned the New York Yankees on the mound.  









Odd Facts and Figures in Rays History


I am feeling a bit bored today and decided to write a short blog and list some interesting facts I have acquired over the test of time.


First, my trivia question for the blog:

What coach, associated with the Rays minor league system gave up Home Run  number 150 to Barry Bonds? 


Answer will be at the end of the blog.


I was cruising through a statistics site the other day and was looking for odd facts and figures and decided to see what former Rays helped Barry Bonds get the All[Time Home Run crown. Here is the list of victimized  ex-Rays pitchers I found:

Jason Jennings, Albie Lopez, Hideo Nomo,Cory Lidle,Casey Fossum,Joe Borowski,Steve Trachel,Dan Miceli,Brian Meadows,Dwight Gooden,Mark Guthrie,John Burkett,Brian Rekar,Rheal Cormier,Xavier Hernandez.

Unfortunately, some on this list got hit more than once by the Barry-nator during his romp through the history books. A few even got smacked hard.


Hideo Nomo served up 3 to Barry. Dwight Gooden got smacked for 3 during the 80’s, Cory Lidle gave up a multiple homer game to him in 2004,and former Rays and Marlin John Burkett got him another multiple homer game.

But the guy who seemed to be habitually hammered by Barry, was Denny Neagle of the Rockies and Reds. He gave up a total of 6 homers to Bonds, including a Multiple homer game on 7/30/1999.

I found it interesting the other day that the Rays now will not ask for the $60 million dollars from the Florida Legislature to help build the new open air stadium. They were originally slated to ask for the money as start up capital to secure the contractors for the project. It seems that the Pinellas County politicians were polled and were in agreement that the Rays were asking for too much in this close fiscal climate. The politicians said that other needs were more of a  priority than the team.


I agree that Child welfare and county services are needed more right now in this budget tightened situation. Just remember, the Marlins tried to get this same tax break last year and were almost laughed out of the capitol building.

I like Mike De Felice as the veteran backstop to Dioner Navarro. Mike was a extremely emotional player when he was last with the Rays, and had a few flareups, in a good way, with the Tigers a few years ago. The emotional firecracker that beats in his chest might be the right medicine to get some emotional strength and power out of both Shawn Riggans and Dioner. Mike has the veteran presence and the spirit to get even the bench fired up during the games. I remember sitting in my seat down by the Bullpen and seeing Mike come down in the late innings and make the entire bench come alive and seem a bit more controlled by his mere presence. This might not seem like the player needed to push either catcher, but it might be more for game control and organization than to put a hole under either guy this Spring. Josh Paul was a student of Joe Maddon’s system with the Angels, and I think he passed a lot of great information and knowledge to both catchers in the last two years.


Josh always commented about writing a book on catching. I think it would be a hit from the controversy surrounding him and the White Sox series in the past, and for his great preparation and historic knowledge of the position. I am not a ghost writer, but I would enjoy talking to this practical joker and serious ballplayer about anything concerning catching or the game.  I hope you write it Josh. I know I will line up for a copy.

The Edwin Jackson rumors will not die concerning the Seattle Mariners and the Rays fire baller. I might have a impartial reason for wanting Edwin not to go anywhere. I enjoy talking to him on the sidelines and receiving his 2006 Game worn jersey at the end of the year.


But for the purely baseball angle, I feel that the LA Dodgers organization gave up on him too early in his career. It seems that a pitcher needs to have about 200 plus innings in the minor leagues before you can get a grip on their type or need for your MLB squad. I think that Edwin in the second half of 2007 began to relax and take the game for what it is……… a bunch of hits and misses. He relied more an his ability than on his velocity and his game to him in the end. It was thought a year or two ago, that he might be the closer of the future for the Rays.

I think that would not serve him well. At worst, he would be a killer inning eater for long duty in the Bullpen. I would rather see him as a starter, but the squad will have its first year that the first two spots might be settled even before the pitchers and catcher report in Febuary. I hope he can hunker down and finally cement himself in the rotation for 2008.



Trivia answer:

The current Durham Bulls pitching coach Xavier Hernandez gave up number 150 to Barry in Houston on 5/2/1992 while Bonds was still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.


Post Script: 

 Also a member of the Barry
Bonds hit squad is current Rays announcer/ color analyst Joe Magrane who gave up a home to Bonds as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals on 8/11/90 at home.  It doesn’t seem like he has been out of the game that long. Joe still looks like he could throw 6 solid innings a start.

Last but not least, congrats to Goose Gossage for finally getting that great call from the Hall of Fame. He is only the fifth reliever in the Hall of Fame, with a lot of company to come in the upcoming years. Gossage received 85.5 percent of the vote to finally get that beautiful bronze plaque of himself and that signature mustache. Goose was a nine time All-star with 310 MLB saves for nine different team during his career.


Here is a truly impressive stat. Gossage got 52 of those saves when he got 7 outs or more. By comparison, today’s specialist relievers usually do not have to go that far in the earlier innings to get a save opportunity. that says a lot for the teams he played with, and the strength of his pitches.

Gossage will be inducted in that small hamlet in New York on  July 27,2008. He will be joined that day by five men selected by the Veterans’ committee: former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn,former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams, and ex-Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss.

Congrats again to all the above men and lets all hit the hamlet of Cooperstown sometime in our lives and feel the thrill and chills of that great museum and ball field.