Hammel It Is…

Joe Maddon finally has revealed what he is going to do when Kazmir comes back.  Jason Hammel will be moving to the pen.  The move to keep him on the big league club was because Al Reyes will be staying on the DL for a little bit longer and Gary Glover will be going on to the DL with shoulder tendonitits.  Glover will be the eleventh player placed on the DL this season. 

Kazmir is finally coming back making the Rays rotation into a immediatly more dangerous one.  I can’t wait.  Here is what the Rays rotation looks like now…

  1. Scott Kazmir
  2. James Shields
  3. Matt Garza
  4. Andy Sonnanstine
  5. Edwin Jackson

Correct me if I’m wrong but this potentially could be the best starting rotation we have had ever! 

GO Rays!!!

Corre

 

Highlights and Lowlights of April

This has been the best start to the season for the Rays ever in franchise history.  16-12 and in contention for first place, the Rays are playing phenomenal baseball and have won their last three series, including sweeps of the Red Sox and Blue Jays. 

Something that has been plaguing the Rays is injuries with a leauge high ten players on the disable list at sometime in April.  Five have gone on the DL since the season started.  But this has BJinpain.jpgnot stopped the Rays from play great ball.  They did suffer a loss today in the first day of May when BJ Upton went down with a left shoulder strain, he is listed as day-to-day.  

The Rays have had great individual performances also.  Andy Sonnanstine has won the most games in the month of April with four.  James Shields had the best ERA at 2.54 in team history.

The bullpen of the Rays was the best it has ever been with Troy Percival, the veteran leader,  has six saves in six attempts and has been dominating in the closer role, and Dan Wheeler has six holds and has been dominating in the setup role.

As we look ahead to the month of May, which has been the worst for the Rays winning percentage wise, I know that I am excited to say the least and better yet we are starting the month off in first place over the Red Sox.

Go Rays!!!

 Corre

Was it Enough?

MattGarza.jpgMatt Garza got his first win of the season but was it enough to keep him in the rotation…   He looked good through six innings allowing just three hits, two of which led to two earned runs. 

The Rays gave him the run support he needed manufacturing runs right off the bat in the first inning when Carl Crawford walked on five pitches and BJ Upton doubled to right.  Carlos Pena came up and drove Crawford in on a gound ball to Brian Roberts for the RBI.  The Rays didn’t score again until the fourth to go up 2-0. 

 The Orioles rallied as Aubry Huff came up with two out and doubled to left, and then Garza gave up a home run to Adam Jones with a slider that stayed in the middle of the plate tying the game 2-2. 

Garza then settled down to pitch two solid innings in the fifth and sixth.  The Rays again manufactured another two runs on a Crawford single to put Garza in line for the win. 

The bullpen then came in and dominated the O’s by putting all nine batters away that they faced, pitching a perfect three innings.  Dan Wheeler got the Hold, his sixth,  and Troy Percival got the Save which also gave him six for the season and 330 Saves for his career.

This brings up the question if Garza is still on the hot seat.  He did do exactly what I think he should have done and had a very strong return from the disabled list.  So if this start was what Maddon was hoping to go on I think he has his work cut out for him. 

Hammel is the only one with even a “weak” start in the last eight games for the Rays but one start is not definitive enough to send a pitcher down in my personal opinion but Maddons got to do what Maddons got to do.

GO Rays!

Corre

 

Sonny and Rays Route O’s

The Rays seem to have brushed off last nights loss to the Orioles with a big win in Camden Yards.   Andy Sonnanstine brought his A game and may have solidified his spot in the rotation when Kazmir returns.  We certianly cannont send him down after his last three starts which were all wins.   He looked spectacular and not enough can be said for this 25 year old in his last three start with one complete game and only allowing four earned runs.  He was pulled after eight innings allowing only six hits, one earned run, 2 walks, and he struckout five, all on 102 pitches 66 of them were strikes.

The Orioles’ Matt Albers started off strong with a one two three inning in the first but after hitting Evan Longoria with the seventh pitch of his at-bat, Gabe Gross hit a Sac Fly to right LongoriaandHinske.jpgfield to start the bleeding.  But after the O’s manufactured a run in the bottom of the third off of an RBI single by Luis Hernandez, the Ray’s kept the gash open by putting two on the board by way of a home run by Eric Hinske to give the Rays the lead 3 to 1.  Albers did fare well against the top of the lineup when they went a combined 0 for 12 against him. Overall, he had a good start but it got ugly once the Orioles bullpen took over.  

 Albers was pulled at the end of six yielding four hits, three earned runs, one walk and striking out two, after the Rays started to catch up to his fastball.  Bob McCrory replaced Albers for his first Major Leauge appearence of the young season, but was pulled after allowing a hit to Gross (who went 1-3 with a BB and SO) getting Bartlett out on a Sac Bunt and then walking the bases loaded for Dennis Sarfate.  Sarfate didn’t do any better by letting all three inherited runners score.  When then inning was over and the dust had cleared the Rays had batted around, scored five runs, and led the game 8 to 1 winning by seven runs.

Wow what a game!!  The win brought them into a tie for second in the AL East and only one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  It also gave the Rays their first winning April in franchise history and with four wins for Sonny it makes him the first Rays pitcher to have four wins in April.  It was a day for firsts and hopefully they keep on coming.

Tomorrow, Matt Garza will be fighting to stay in the Rays rotation as he gets his first start since coming off of the DL.  I don’t think there is much that Garza can do to stop his inevitable trip to the Minors, at least for the time being.  It would probably take a miracle of some sorts, like a 2-0 win where he pitches at least seven innings and allows few hits and walks less than two batters.  Which is definitly within reach for the talented righty.  We will just have to wait and see…

GO Rays!!!

Corre 

  

Hammel Struggles in Loss to O’s

From the outset of the game one pitcher had it together, and it wasn’t Jason Hammel for the Rays.  Hammel started out getting Roberts to ground out to Bartlett but then walked three of the next four batters to load the bases.  Even though Hammel got out of the inning the O’s preceeded to hound the 25 year old righty for three runs in only 2.2 innings of workHammel.jpg.  He was replaced in the third by JP Howell who had his excellent curveball working through the fifth inning.  Howell’s curveball looked as good as I had seen it in any appearance this season, striking out four including ex-Ray Aubry Huff.  But in the bottom of the sixth Huff got his revenge as he has on eight other occasions by hitting a two run home run off of Dohmann to extend the O’s lead to seven. 

Young Orioles pitcher Garrett Olson pitched a great game on the other hand.  The Rays could not get even a hit off of Olson until the third inning and did not capitalize on any runners in scoring postion until the seventh on Olson’s 105th pitch.  It turned out to be his last and was pulled for Radnor Bierd who allowed the inherited runner (Aki) to score on an RBI by Crawford and then gave up a two run home run to BJ Upton shrinking the lead to three, but the offensive burst wasn’t enough for the Rays to take the lead from the O’s and the ending score was 7-4.  

The Rays just could not get the bats working tonight off of the rookie, but it just wasn’t the hitting to be fair the bullpen didn’t show their brillance of the last few games allowing 4 ER on 4 H, 1 HR, and 5 walks.   We’ll just call this a hicup and hope the pen can pull it together for tomorrow’s game.   I have no doubt Percival will get them refocused in time to take the next two games from the O’s.  No Panic here….

Tomorrow’s game will feature Andy Sonnanstine against Matt Albers.  Sonny has been great in his last two starts coming off a horrible outing against the Yankees on the 14th of April.  Lets hope the Rays will come out firing on all cylinders and not carry the “flatness” over from tonight. 

I do believe that this may give Joe Maddon some reason to send someone other than Garza down when Kazmir comes back.  Garza is the name I am hearing though but he has not had the chance to pitch since he has been on the DL.  I say give him this next start and then we’ll see.  

As Always…

GO Rays!!!

Corre

Kaz Coming Back…

Kazmir.jpgThe staff ace of the Rays, Scott Kazmir, pitched today for the Durham Bulls in a Minor League game against the Richmond Braves before potentially taking the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday against the Red Sox.  Throwing 81 pitches, 50 for strikes, in five innings and only allowing one run on a home run by Diory Henderson in the third inning, Kazmir looks set to face the Red Sox.   We all know that stats for pitchers rehabing in the minors don’t mean much, but only allowing three hits and one walk while striking out three is decent no matter what level your at.  I am really looking forward to his return to the Rays. 

Now this raises the very tough question of…  Who will the Rays take out of the rotation in order to put Kaz in?   With all of the other starters making quality starts and the bullpen holding their own,  it is anyones guess as to who the Rays will send down to the Minors.  And after being asked the question if Maddon would go to a six man rotation, Maddon flatly told reporters that they won’t.   This is definitly not a bad problem to have, having to many good starters but it is a problem none the less.  I think that the stats of all of the starters make it too tough a call purely from a stats stand point, so I believe Maddon is going to have to go with his gut on this one.  I mean I don’t want our starters to have rough outings or anything but over the course of the next couple of games I think that is what Maddon is going to have to look at.  

Either way….  GO Rays!

Off Days…

Today is a down day for more than half of the teams in baseball and worse it is a down day for the Rays.  I have to get my Rays fix because a game is not on, so I wait for something, anything. 

I got my fix when I was watching Sportscenter and the Diamond Cuts feature with Buster Olney came on…  He was basically asked what he thought of the O’s and Rays being at the top of the AL East and who would last.  I was pleasently surprised to hear that he believes evanlongoria.jpgthat the Rays have what it takes to stay competitive with the Yanks and Red Sox.  The pitching staff and good postion players to hang on and at least compete for the rest of the season.  I am siked,  when Buster Olney says the Rays have what it takes it has to be true, right? 

With Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, BJ Upton, Kaz (when he comes back), ok I could name the rest of the team on this one, I don’t see any reason (other than becoming complacient or a sudden loss of a key arm in the bullpen) the Rays can’t at least finish the season over .500.  This could be the year…

 

GO Rays!!!

   

New Ballpark

 I don’t know if anyone has heard but the Rays have only the voters of St. Pete to get their new state of the art ballpark.  Being from the Bay Area I have always wanted the Rays to play outdoors and now it is almost a reality.  Potentially opening in 2012, I will be back in the area and WILL have season tickets.   Not saying that if I wasn’t there now I wouldn’t, but I love baseball in it’s purest form.  On real grass, a view of the sky, and most importantly the sunshine. 

Some questions have been floating around about if an outdoor stadium is right for the Bay Area and the Rays.  I say, look at Steinbrenner Field (formally Legends Field) home of the Tampa Yankees (Single A farm team affiliated with the New York Yankees), they have an awesome atmosphere at the ballpark and weather has really never been an issue.  I like the proposed idea of a “sail” retractable roof and the view of the bay from the seats.  The potential homerun ball landing in the bay is intriguing also.  I just love that the Rays are hopefully getting out of the Trop to a beautiful new ballpark.

Honestly,  I just wish I could be there for opening day…

Go Rays!!! 
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6 Game Winning Streak!!!

TampaRays.jpgWell, a six game winning streak, phenomenal pitching from starters and the pen, run support, as a fan I can’t ask for more.   What is even better is that Ray’s starters have won four of the six games, which means the Rays are getting run support….  And…   Alright, I’m gonna slow down.

To start off, starting pitching has had one of the best stretches for the Rays since I can remember.  Let me throw some numbers at you: 12 runs, 15 walks, 28 hits, and 22 strikeouts in the 40.1 combined innings pitched.  I don’t know about you but for me that is compareable with some of the best teams in baseball over the past six games.  It has also propelled the Rays into a three way tie with the Red Sox (whom the Rays just swept in their past three game series) and Orioles (who they will be starting off a nine game road trip with on Tuesday).  

The Rays hitters have also been helping out their starters by giving them just enough run support.  They have collectively contributed 18 runs when their starters went on to get the win.  The team batting average was less than spectacular at .255 but taking under consideration some of the opposing pitching (Litsch, Halladay, Wakefield, Buchholz, and Beckett) they have faced, two of which are the staff Aces and one a future Ace, the Rays hitters did what they had to do.   

I think that got the whole thing started was the trip to Disney’s World Wide of Sports complex where they are yet to lose.  This winning streak has people talking and hopefully the Rays can keep the ball rolling.  Or should I say flying…