ST. PETERSBURG — Jacoby Ellsbury’s speed was just too good.
ST. PETERSBURG — That’s right, Matt Garza is nine outs away from becoming the first Ray to throw a perfect game. In fact, no Tampa Bay player has even thrown a no-hitter.
ST. PETERSBURG — A couple of Rays on the disabled list were said to be progressing on Thursday.
ST. PETERSBURG — Not many surprises here. Both teams’ catchers will have an off-day on Thursday, and Jason Bartlett said his left hamstring — which forced him to leave Wednesday’s game after the top of the fifth inning — is just fine. Gabe Gross will get his ninth start of the year in right field, and Michel Hernandez will get his fourth starting nod behind the plate to give Dioner Navarro a rest.
ST. PETERSBURG — Greetings, all.
After the Rays took a 1-0 loss Thursday in the rubber game against Seattle, Pat Burrell summed up the Rays’ situation best when he said: “We’re making it tough on ourselves.”
He went on to say that the Rays were going to have to tough it out to fight their way out of their current plight. And looking at where they are right now at 6-10, it will be a tough fight indeed.
The first pitch is about to be thrown in the first game of a three-game series against the A’s in Oakland, which is a tough place to play. After playing the A’s, the Rays will head to Minnesota for three against the Twins — also at a tough place to play.
While I don’t believe a disastrous road trip would be the end for this year’s Rays, I can see a winning road trip serving as a rallying point for the team to get back on track. But the Rays do have their work cut out for them.
Jeff Niemann thought he had Jermaine Dye for the second out in the sixth inning, but the White Sox slugger pointed to his toe enough to have the umpires investigate whether he had fouled the ball off his front foot.
After consulting one another, they ruled in favor of Dye, prompting Joe Maddon to leave the dugout to argue the other way. Like many such arguments, this one ended with an ejection. Home plate umpire Brian Gorman tossed the Rays manager.
From the replay, the umpires appeared to make the right call.
Dye then singled and two additional singles followed to load the bases. But Niemann showed some toughness. First he made a nice play fielding a swinging bunt when he flipped to Dioner Navarro at home for the force. Then he got the inning ending ground ball. No runs scored.
B.J. Upton played center field for Single-A Charlotte Thursday night and after going 0-for-2 in five plate appearances — he was hit by a pitch (grazed on the shirt) and walked twice — and stealing two bases, he declared he was ready to play for the Rays in Monday’s home opener against the Yankees.
“”The timing is there,” Upton said. “Sometimes you get a little nervous facing the younger
guys, but other than that, I feel great, physically I feel great. I’m just
trying to pan a few things out with my swing right now.”
Thursday night’s contest was Charlotte’s opener and Upton appreciated the significance of the occasion.
“Lot of fun,” Upton said. “Any Opening Day is a lot of fun. It felt good to finally get out
there in front of some fans and go out and play some baseball and play in a
stadium instead of playing on the backfields where there is really nothing going
on. It felt, a little new to me, but let’s move on with it.”
The Rays and Red Sox meet again Wednesday night at Fenway and this time the Rays will be facing a left-hander in Jon Lester.
Hoping to combat Lester’s effectiveness, Maddon plans to use right-handed hitting Jason Bartlett in the leadoff spot. Here’s what tomorrow night’s lineup tentatively will look like:
Amid the news of Jason Hammel being traded to the Rockies, the Rays worked out Sunday in chilly Fenway Park. Weather wise, cold air isn’t a problem compared to the forecast for rain Monday, which could threaten the opener.
James Shields, who will start the opener, looked relaxed as did the entire Rays clubhouse. The expressions and antics pretty much resembled what went on during the 2008 season. Clearly, this is a team that enjoys being together.
Here’s the lineup for Monday if the weatherman is wrong:
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Pat Burrell, DH
Matt Joyce, CF
Dioner Navarro, C
Gabe Gross, RF
Jason Bartlett, SS