July 2009

Time to Get Serious

Looks like the Rays will have a nice crowd for the Yankees tonight and while the team seems to be somewhat nonchalant about the necessity of winning the series with the division leaders, the numbers tell another story.

Tonight’s game is the Rays’ 100th of the season, so they have 63 games — including tonight’s — to overcome a 6 1/2 game deficit, which is the margin they trail the Yankees. Making up 6 1/2 games in 63 games is a difficult proposition. Even more disturbing for Rays fans is the prospect of a Yankees sweep. If that happens it’s hard to imagine the Rays overcoming a 9 1/2 game margin.

It might be July, but these are big, big, games for the Rays.
–Bill Chastain

Rays Get a Base Runner

After getting a perfect game thrown against them Thursday, the Rays’ stretch of 29 consecutive at-bats without having a runner reach base ended in the first inning Friday night when Carl Crawford singled up the middle against Toronto ace Roy Halladay.

Ironically, Crawford got the Rays’ last hit with two out in the ninth Wednesday night.

–Bill Chastain

Shields Not Surrendering

Watching how a pitcher pitches after getting roughed up a bit tells me a lot about what kind of pitcher he is.

James Shields started for the Rays tonight and he gave up four consecutive singles in the third before Mike Jacobs added a three-run homer to put the Royals up 6-2. What has been impressive is how Shields has responded to the setback.

Rather than hang his head, Shields has continued to try and get people out. The Rays might not come back, they are now down 6-4, but Shields’ refusal to quit has kept his team in the game.
–Bill Chastain

Jaso Up, Balfour Home for Bereavement

Dioner Navarro won’t go on the DL just yet, but Triple-A catcher John Jaso will be with the team Sunday. Putting Navarro on the DL after he had to leave the game Saturday night didn’t become an issue because reliever Grant Balfour went on the bereavement list as he had to go to Australia to attend a family funeral.

The Rays can now monitor Navarro’s condition over the break. There is no word yet on Navarro’s condition just yet, but his agent told reporters that his client was fine. Meanwhile, Balfour is expected to be back with the team by the time the Rays play the Royals Friday night in Kansas City.

–Bill Chastain

Nostalgic Night

I feel a healthy dose of nostalgia looking at the Rays’ uniforms tonight since they mirror those worn in 1998 by the original Devil Rays.

Having grown up in the Tampa Bay area, I always remembered longing for a Major League team to come to the area. So Opening Night in 1998 was a special night. Everyone knows that the Rays did not win much wearing those uniforms, but it’s nice to look back to the beginning to see how far the franchise has come.

–Bill Chastain

Upton Steals Home

Watching Carl Crawford hit a triple is one of baseball’s most exciting plays, but how about watching B.J. Upton steal home?

Upton caught Brian Tallet sleeping in the first inning when the Jays left-hander threw over to first trying to keep Crawford from stealing second. Upton appeared to anticipate what Tallet was thinking and took off for home, sliding across the plate and easily beating the throw to tie the score at 1.

–Bill Chastain

Excitement at the Top

Few things in baseball are as exciting as watching a pair of speedsters like B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford on a double steal, which they perfectly executed in the third.

Of note, Upton’s steal gave him 30 on the season, which makes Crawford and Upton the fifth set of teammates all-time to reach 30 steals by the All-Star Break.   Delino DeShields (33) and Marquis Grissom (45) were the last pair to accomplish the feat when they did it for the Montreal Expos in 1992.

–Bill Chastain

Maddon Turns In A.L. Manager’s Choices for All-Star Game

Joe Maddon submitted his American League All-Star choices to the league office today and noted that he felt “comfortable with the names we’re submitting.”

How many Rays will be on the team? That won’t be known until Sunday, but Maddon did say he was satisfied with the Rays’ representation on the team.

“The manager did a nice job,” Maddon said.

–Bill Chastain