Tag:Tampa Bay Rays
Posted on: October 1, 2011 10:36 pm
 

Holland off, but Rangers bats not

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- This had all of the earmarks of a Texas disaster.

Starter Derek Holland fought his command from the start, laboring through a 29-pitch first inning. He was lucky to hold Tampa Bay to one run.

Then he surrendered a two-run home run to Matt Joyce in the fourth, and it got real quiet real fast at The Ballpark in Arlington.

Then, what raw rookie Matt Moore did for Tampa Bay on Friday became even more impressive: Texas hammered James Shields for five runs in the fourth and never looked back, pounding its way to an 8-6 win. And in evening this Division Series at 1-1, the Rangers served notice of why they're so lethal.

Did Moore really shut out this crew for seven innings in Game 1?

Did anybody really think the Rangers were going to stay silent in this thing?

The Rangers love Holland, and with good reason. Just 24, he mixes a low-90s fastball with a curve that dips into the low 70s and a slider somewhere in-between, Holland finished the regular season by going 10-1 with a 2.77 ERA in his final 15 starts beginning July 7.

What Holland did Saturday on a day on which he wasn't sharp was keep the Rangers close.

Then the Texas lineup did the rest, from Mike Napoli's two-run, game-tying single in the fourth to Ian Kinsler's two-run double in the sixth to Mitch Moreland's exclamation point of a home run in the eighth.

By the end, believe it or not, Texas had won its first home game in Division Series history. Before Saturday, the Rangers were 0-7. They were 0-1 in this series.

No more.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Love Letters: Still glowing over Wednesday night

Before we get too far away from the greatest regular season night of baseball ever, some quick reactions in the aftermath of Wednesday night. ...

FROM: James J.
Re.: Rays' final chapter in comeback story defies belief


C'mon Scott:

You're not that naive are you? Seriously? Joe Girardi gave Tampa Bay that game! Leaving Luis Ayala in after walks/hit batters ... and following him with SCOTT PROCTOR? C'mon Scott ... you're more with it than this! If Girardi cared about this game, Mariano would've been in.

You could not be more wrong. Girardi's Yankees had clinched the AL East title. He had Game 1 of the playoffs in two days. His responsibility was to rest his key guys and make sure they're ready for the postseason. If Boston doesn't like it, the Red Sox shouldn't have been in the position where they needed the Yankees' help. Period.

FROM: Jim M.

Do you think it was right that the Yankees treated it like a spring training game? Get your two ABs then in go the minor leaguers. The Yankees need to develop some integrity. I am not saying they lost it on purpose, but they never played to win the game. Imagine the richest team in baseball just cheapened the game!

You could not be more wrong, either. Any other takers here?

FROM: Harry

Hi Scott,

You asked how did the Rays impossible comeback and miracle happen? I can tell ya how. I prayed on it. From the 7th when they were down 7-0, through the Longoria blast in the 12th, every pitch, every at-bat. I prayed them into the playoffs and into the World Series in 2008 as well.

Now I know who I'm going to turn to in times of crisis.

FROM: Tom H.

Scott:

You are so right. Last night was one of those nights that I will always remember. All I can is, Wow. For those of us that love baseball, last night will live [forever]. I will always remember the emotional roller coaster of that night. It just doesn't get any better than last night. Thanks for capturing the emotion of the night!

Five days later, I'm still trying to catch my breath.

FROM: Daniel D.

Being a Yankee fan, I just loved way Red Sox folded! Tampa Bay played great down stretch!

At the very least, the Rays seized the opportunity.

FROM: Andrew T.
Re.: Charmed life continues for Tampa with remarkable triple play

Great story! The article emotes the excitement of the now! Thanks! Go Rays!

It's been fun! Let's keep watching! Rays are looking good! Thanks!

FROM: Wally B.

Scott,

The team is the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa is a city, Tampa Bay is the home of the Rays. Where is Tropicana Field? You need to know these things.

And the Sunshine Skyway goes over ... the San Francisco Bay, correct?

Likes: Kyle Chandler was waaaaay overdue for the Emmy he won for Friday Night Lights. Too bad Connie Britton didn't win for her portrayal of his wife on the best show that's been on television in years. So sad it's over... Razzoo's Cajun restaurant in Fort Worth, Tex. The crawfish etouffee and spicy shrimp and chicken gumbo are outstanding. ... The shrimp gumbo at Pappadeaux. ... Heritage Park in Fort Worth, great place to run.

Dislikes: Smokers who toss their cigarette butts out the car window as if the world is their ashtray. Happened again on a freeway in Texas on Thursday as I was driving from the airport to my hotel. Lady in front of me just flicked it out. Pig.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric:

"Nobody on the road
"Nobody on the beach
"I feel it in the air
"Summer’s out of reach
"Empty lake, empty streets
"The sun goes down alone
"I’m drivin’ by your house
'Though I know you’re not home"

-- Don Henley, The Boys of Summer


Posted on: September 30, 2011 10:41 pm
 

Damon sorry to see Francona - "HOF manager" - go

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Boston is now four teams ago in his rear-view mirror but, nevertheless, Tampa Bay outfielder Johnny Damon is sorry to see Terry Francona and the Red Sox part ways.

"It's sad to see him walking away from the game right now," Damon said following the Rays' 9-0 stomping of Texas in Game 1 of the AL Division Series here Friday. "I love him as a manager. He stated he didn't have the clubhouse chemistry he once had, especially back in 2004 when we were able to do some wonderful things.

"To me, he's a Hall of Fame manager. He's always going to be remembered in Boston."
Posted on: September 30, 2011 8:10 pm
 

Rays carry season-end momentum into Game 1 win

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Who needs a triple play when you've got the left arm of the brilliant Matt Moore?

Who needs to bother worrying about needing to storm back from a 7-0 deficit when you've got a kid like him?

This time, the Tampa Bay Rays found another improbable avenue to victory: Making just the second big league start of his career, Moore led them there. He was brilliant in pitching seven shutout innings during Tampa Bay's 9-0 Game 1 Division Series romp over the stunned Rangers.

And suddenly, following the liftoff Moore gave them, the Rays have seized Texas' home-field advantage and, maybe even more impressive, carried their season-ending momentum straight into the playoffs after the emotional high of Wednesday night.

No other pitcher in major league history had started his team's first postseason game with just one big-league start under his belt. And Moore, 22, became the youngest AL pitcher to start Game 1 of the postseason since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971.

The way he dominated one of the game's best lineups, you could have sworn that he cut his major-league teeth long ago. Same as his only other start, when he tamed the New York Yankees, shutting them out over five innings and fanning 11. Last pitcher that young to fan 10 or more Yankees in New York? Hal Newhouser of the Detroit Tigers in 1943.

This guy throws 97 m.p.h. with the ease of you and I playing catch. His curve is terrific. And manager Joe Maddon especially loves his changeup.

That's 17 strikeouts in 12 big-league innings so far against the Rangers and Yankees.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:26 am
 

Thankful for day of rest, Rays look to Texas

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Best thing about Thursday for the bleary-eyed Tampa Bay Rays, of course, was simple: They're in. Somehow, some way, improbably, impossibly, incredibly ... they moved past Boston and into the wild-card slot for the first time since May at the very last possible minute.

Second-best thing about Thursday for the Rays?

In pulling off their miracle, they also avoided the dreaded one-game playoff with the Red Sox on Thursday.

Which means a team that has been in full-on sprint mode for weeks gets one very key day to rest its pitching before facing the Texas Airborne Rangers in Game 1 of an American League Divisional Series on Friday.

"It is very important not playing [Thursday]," manager Joe Maddon said amid the champagne showers in the Rays clubhouse overnight Thursday.

"Texas is very tough. Their numbers playing in their ballpark are sick. We've got to play our best baseball. We've got to be on our best behavior."

What Tampa Bay has had going for it all season is rich depth in its rotation. From James Shields to Jeremy Hellickson and beyond, the Rays can bring it on the mound.

But here was the state of Tampa Bay's pitching as the Rays were forced to chew through so many relievers during its wild charge this week that the bullpen stretched like salt water taffy: Starter James Shields, who beat the Yankees on Monday, was warming in the pen as the Last Man Standing in the 12th inning Wednesday.

Had the Rays been forced to play Boston in a one-gamer on Thursday, they would have had to get incredibly inventive to make it through (though perhaps not as inventive as chasing a trade with Kansas City for Bruce Chen).

"It's huge," All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria said of the chance to take a 24-hour breather before taking on Texas. "Those guys [the pitchers] have been grinding all year for us. You can't say enough about what the bullpen did [in Wednesday night's 8-7, 12-inning win over the Yankees]."

Now, Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey have a fascinating decision in choosing a Game 1 starter. Jeff Niemann, coming off of a sore back, or high-ceilinged prospect Matt Moore were in line to start the one-game staredown with Boston had it come to that.

Will the Rays elect to go with Big Game James Shields on short rest (he started Monday)? Niemann? Would the unconventional Maddon dare hand the ball to the rookie Moore?

It's all just one more good reason why Tampa Bay was thrilled to not have to play on Thursday: Gives them more time to think about these decisions.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 12:10 am
 

Rays pass Boston, seize wild-card on wild night

This Dan Johnson character ... c'mon.

He's not real, is he?

He can't be. Because what he did on Thursday night ... again ... was beyond fiction. He stepped to the plate batting .108, with Tampa Bay's season down to its final strike ... and he did it again?

He sliced a low liner of a gloriously colorful Tampa Bay rainbow that rifled into the seats just inside the right-field foul line to push the game into the 10th.

Then Mr. Triple Play, Evan Longoria, took it from there in the 12th, smashing a game-winning homer against Yankees reliever Scott Proctor within 10 minutes of Boston blowing one, final game in Baltimore.

And just like that, Tampa Bay's in.

Just moments after St. Louis staged the greatest comeback ever when Atlanta lost, the Rays topped them.

Tampa Bay's in.

It was unreal, unbelievable and for so long for the Rays, unattainable. They trailed 7-0 by the fifth. They were still trailing 7-0 in the eighth. Then they scored six runs, then came Johnson in the ninth and. ...

Dan Johnson? The guy is like the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. Daniel Ryan Johnson. In his fourth season, 31 years old. He shows up once or twice a year and ... wham!

When the Rays were staging their miracle World Series run in 2008, he clobbered a huge, late-season home run against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in Fenway Park at a time when the young Rays were trying to believe in themselves. The homer sent the game into extra innings.

He belted a game-winning home run against Boston's Scott Atchison at Tropicana Field last August that helped the Rays' playoff bid.

He crushed two go-ahead home runs against Phil Hughes and the Yankees last September that helped pave the Rays' way to last October even more.

That should have been enough, right? I mean, who does this kind of thing? Who does he think he is, Gates Brown?

On one of the most exhilarating nights of baseball in memory, the playoff field is set.

Detroit at the Yankees and, incredibly, Tampa Bay at Texas.

And Arizona at Milwaukee and, yes, incredibly, St. Louis at Philadelphia.

Posted on: September 28, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Kotchman cleared, in Rays lineup tonight

ST. PETERSBURG -- One day after being taken in a stretcher from Tropicana Field with chest pains, first baseman Casey Kotchman was back in Tampa Bay's lineup for Wednesday's pivotal game against the Yankees.

Kotchman underwent a battery of tests, all of which came back negative. He was released from the hospital late Tuesday, not long before the Rays finished their 5-3 win over New York.

"I don't think it's how you'd draw up Game 161, but I'm feeling better and everything's ready to go tonight," said Kotchman, who is hitting seventh and playing first base.

Kotchman, 28, said his chest was "uncomfortable, very uncomfortable" and added that he's never been through an episode like that before.

He said he still has no idea why it struck.

"No, but I'm not worried about it," Kotchman said. "I'll take it day by day."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he had no hesitation in putting Kotchman back in the lineup Wednesday once he was cleared both by hospital staff and Tampa Bay doctors.

"I had to hear it from him [that he was OK]," Maddon said. "The doctors were on board. He was adamant that he was fine."

"I like putting on the costume," said Kotchman, who is batting .305 with 10 homers and 48 RBI. "Hopefully, we can pull out a win tonight."
Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:05 pm
 

Rays beat Yanks again, keep heat on Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It took the Rays 125 days this season to pull back into a share of the American League wild-card slot.

So no way was the streaking, gutsy crew from Tampa Bay going to surrender it 24 hours later.

It was close, it was a battle, but when they write the story of the 2011 Rays, two huge monumental moments from Tuesday night's 5-3 nailbiter over the Yankees in The Trop will be at the top.

The first came with nobody out in the seventh when Matt Joyce bashed the game-winning homer, savagely attacking a pitch from former Rays closer Rafael Soriano and driving it into the right-field seats for a three-run blast.

The other moment was an honest-to-goodness triple play, which came in the sixth, during a tense time when the Yankees were threatening to blow this game open.

Leading 3-2 with runners on second and third and, of course, nobody out, the Rays elected to intentionally walk Jorge Posada to load the bases.

And then came a moment screaming that Tampa Bay is living right: Russell Martin scorched a ground ball to third, about one step from the bag. Evan Longoria was all over it, took the one small step for the Rays and one giant step for the AL wild-card race.

His foot on the bag, he wheeled and whipped the ball to Ben Zobrist at second, who turned and fired a strike to Sean Rodriguez, who was playing first after Casey Kotchman was scratched from the lineup pre-game and taken to the hospital with discomfort in his chest.

There was no question. Martin easily was out at first.

You could hear Boston groaning all the way from Baltimore. Given a reprieve from imminent disaster, the Rays turned it over to Joyce in the seventh, and Tampa Bay had done the impropable: The Rays have pushed their season to Game 162, still very much in position to push the Red Sox over the cliff and dance into October themselves.

 
 
 
 
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