The Rays always get ragged on because no one shows up to their games even though they’re a young, exciting team that wins a LOT of ball games. I couldn’t watch games at that dump either. It’s not easy to enjoy a baseball game when you feel like your sitting in the bathroom from “Saw”. Let’s take a look at your 2011 Rays, a team with some new, and yet, familiar faces.
Left field: Johnny Damon. 2010 splits: .271 average, 8 home runs, 51 RBI, .756 OPS. Brief: I like this signing by the Rays with the absence of Carl Crawford. No, Damon is no longer an all-star, but Damon was a steady, reliable fail-safe for the Tigers in ’10. Look for him to split left field duties with longtime teammate Manny Ramirez. What a wacky platoon that’ll be. Between Damon, who possess the arm strength of a 9-year-old girl and Manny’s head-scratching decisions, it should be fun, if nothing else.
Center field: B.J. Upton. 2010 splits: .237 average, 18 home runs, 62 RBI, .745 OPS. Brief: Too many strikeouts for somebody with as much talent as Upton. A disappointing year by most accounts in 2010, Upton still swiped 40+ bases. If he can tighten up that swing while still getting around 20 home runs, Upton could finally turn into the player Rays fans (the ones that actually go to the games) hope for.
Right field: Ben Zobrist. 2010 splits: .238 average, 10 home runs, 75 RBI, .699 OPS. Brief: Zobrist took a dip from his breakout in ’09. Still, 24 stolen bases out of your right fielder is impressive. He also has some flexibility with the ability to play first base. Man, I’m good at sugar-coating things aren’t I?
Third base: Evan Longoria. 2010 splits: .294 average, 22 home runs, 104 RBI, .879 OPS. Brief: It’s got to be nice to have a stud third baseman who excels both in the field and at the dish while still just barely entering his prime. More importantly, Longoria is one of the new spokesman for Gillette razors. You haven’t made it as a superstar until you’re in cool, chic commercials peddling crap to the masses.
Shortstop: Reid Brignac. 2010 splits: .256 average, 8 home runs, 45 RBI, .692 OPS. Brief: Sort of your run-of-the-mill shortstop with the absence of Jason Bartlett. He should be steady in the order as well as in the field.
Second base: Sean Rodriguez. 2010 splits: .251 average, 9 home runs, 40 RBI, .705 OPS. Brief: A lot of competition at second base means Rodriguez is going to have to produce if he wants to stay in the lineup. Still, a pretty big guy for a middle infielder at six-foot and 195 pounds means he could bring a little pop to a position that doesn’t normally see it.
First base: Dan Johnson. 2010 splits: .198 average, 7 home runs, 23 RBI. Brief: Rays fans are going to miss the pop at first base that Carlos Pena provided for so many years. I remember when Pena was with the Tigers, man he sucked. Maybe Johnson will take to the Trop like Pena did so many years ago.
Designated Hitter: Manny Ramirez. 2010 splits: .298 average, 9 home runs, 42 RBI, .870 OPS. Brief: I FREAKING LOVED this signing by the Rays in the offseason. Tampa acquired Man-Ram on the cheap for 2011. When healthy, and frankly, “all-there” Manny is arguably the best hitter in a generation. The key now is finding out whether Manny will give a rip this year.
Catcher: John Jaso. 2010 splits: .263, 5 home runs, 44 RBI, .750 OPS. Brief: Jaso won the catcher’s spot with his top-notch plate discipline last season. Man that’s exciting isn’t it? Right behind him is the free-swining Kelly Shoppach who possesses a lot more pop but also a higher potential to swing three times and walk back to the dugout with his tail between his legs.
Alright, be back next week to preview the starting rotation and relievers. Salude.
After taking care of business in the ALDS the Tampa Bay Rays are now doing the same thing in the ALCS. The Chicago White Sox proved to be not match in against the Rays in the opening round of the playoffs and the Boston Red Sox are not fairing much better in the ALCS.
The Rays lead the series 2-1 and are on the verge of taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series as they lead 11-2 in the eighth inning of game four.
The Rays have been impressive in this series as they do not appear to be intimidated by the experienced and heavily favored Red Sox club.
The Rays have used the long ball plenty in the series but have also received great performances by most of the pitchers.
If the Rays can hold a nine run lead over the final two innings tonight they will try to wrap up the series on Thursday night in Boston. If they cannot, they’ll head back to Florida to try and end the series.
The Tampa Bay Rays magic season will continue today as they look to sweep the Chicago White Sox out of the ALDS.
The Rays won game one 6-4 behind James Shields and game two 6-2 behind Scott Kazmir. Kazmir struggled early in game two, but hung in there and helped get his club the win.
Evan Longoria homered twice in game one as he helped pick up the slack for the missing Carlos Pena. Pena got scratched in the second inning of game one and hasn’t played since. The club is hopeful that he will be able to play today as the series moves to Chicago.
Starting for the Rays today will be Matt Garza. Starting for the Sox is John Danks. Game time is 4:07pm.
The Tampa Bay Rays are the only team in the playoffs who do not know who they are going to play. Tampa Bay will take on the AL Central champ in the ALDS, with game one being on the Rays home field.
The Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers today, which now forces the White Sox and Twins to play a one game playoff on Tuesday.
Either way the Rays will play their first ever playoff game on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 at Tropicana Field.
For the second consecutive day the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers. However, it looks like the Boston Red Sox will lose tonight which would make the Ray the American League East Champions. The Rays 6-4 loss on Friday drops the Rays to 96-64.
Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays and got hit hard early in the game. Sonnanstine coughed up five runs in the first two innings and was hit with the loss. Sonnanstine will wrap up the season with a record of 13-9.
BJ Upton led the Tampa Bay offense with three hits, including a solo home run. Upton also drove in and scored two runs. Evan Longoria went 2-5 but also struck out three times.
The Rays and Tigers will play again on Saturday. Matt Garza will start for the Rays.
The Rays topped the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night to step closer to the American League East title. The Rays won 5-2 to move their record to 94-62.
James Shields started for the Rays and pitched well enough to earn his 14th win of the season. Shields threw seven innings and gave up only two earned runs. He allowed eight hits but also struck out eight batters. His ERA on the season is now 3.57. Dan Wheeler worked the ninth inning to get his 13th save.
Jason Bartlett and Fernando Perez led the Rays with three hits each. Perez also led the club with a pair of RBI. Evan Longoria went 2-5 with a double to help anchor the middle of the Tampa Bay line up.
The Rays and Orioles will wrap up their series on Wednesday.
The Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Rays topped the Minnesota Twins on Saturday 7-2 to widen their AL East lead to 2.5 games.
Scott Kazmir started on the mound for the Rays and won his 12th game of the season. Kazmir threw six shut out innings as he struck out five batters and allowed only five hits. The bullpen pieced together the final three innings to get the Rays the win.
Tampa took the lead for good in the third inning when Carlos Pena smacked a two run double to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. Dioner Navarro led the Rays with three hits while Pena drove in the two runs. Cliff Floyd hit his 11th homer of the season.
The Rays and Twins will wrap up their series on Sunday afternoon. Andy Sonnanstine will start for the Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays were on their way to another win as they took an 8-6 lead into the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins. However, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and the Rays lost 11-8.
James Shields started for the Rays and was less than spectacular. Shields went 6.1 innings and gave up five earned runs. However, the loss went to Dan Wheeler who was brought on to save the victory. Wheeler couldn’t get an out and gave up four earned runs in the ninth inning.
Evan Longoria led the offense as he clubbed three homers. He scored three runs and drove in four as he helped the Rays take an early lead. Sadly, the rest of the team went only 6-31 on the game as they had a tough time putting more runs on the board.
The Rays and Twins will play again on Friday night with Edwin Jackson taking the mound for the Rays.
A night after getting blown out in their own building, the Tampa Bay Rays bounced back with 2-1 win on Tuesday night. They now have a one game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East.
Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays and matched Josh Beckett pitch for pitch. Sonnanstine threw six innings and gave up an unearned run on only three hits. He walked two batters and struck out five. Dan Wheeler got an out in the top of the ninth to pick up the win.
The Rays tied the game at one in the seventh on a Carlos Pena solo homer. The Rays loaded the bases in the ninth and won the game when Dioner Navarro singled in a run. Evan Longoria went 0-4 with three strike outs.
The Rays will look to take a two game lead on Wednesday night when they send Matt Garza to the mound.
The Rays welcome the Boston Red Sox to town last night and got absolutely crushed, 13-5. The Rays now are tied with the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. The runner up will almost surely get the Wild Card.
Scott Kazmir started for the Rays and he got hit really hard. Kazmir lasted only three innings and got hit with the loss. Kazmir gave up nine runs and allowed four home runs. The Rays were never really in the game.
Dan Johnson came in for Carlos Pena and hit a two run homer. Akinori Iwamura and Justin Ruggiano also homered for the Rays. Most of the damage came with the game already over since the Red Sox had a 13-1 lead.
The two teams will play again tonight with first place on the line.
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