Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bombs away

The wind is blowing out to left field today. Either that or Mitch Talbot has nothing.

The Rays right-hander allowed three home runs to left field during the Phillies five-run first.

Ryan Howard went opposite field for his first round-tripper of the season.

John Mayberry followed with a bomb to left.

One out later, it was former Ray second baseman Miguel Cairo's turn. He tucked a home run just inside the foul line.

The Rays got a run back in the top of the second when Ray Sadler crushed one into the Phillies bullpen which sits behind the Rays bullpen in left field.

Talbot settled down in the second.

It's Phillies 5, Rays 1 after two.

A World Series rematch

Beautiful day for baseball here at Bright House Field in Clearwater for the first meeting between the Rays and Phillies since Game 5 of the World Series.

I still can't get over the fact the Rays played in the World Series.

Anyway ...

Pat Burrell requested to make the trip from Port Charlotte to Clearwater to face the team he helped lead to the World Series last October.

The Phillies lineup features Miguel Cairo at second base. You might remember Cairo was an original Ray.

Here are the lineups:
Gabe Kapler RF
Justin Ruggiano CF
Willy Aybar 2B
Pat Burrell DH
Chris Richard 1B
Morgan Ensberg 3B
Ray Sadler LF
Shawn Riggans C
Ray Olmedo SS
Mitch Talbot P

Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Raul Ibanez LF
Ryan Howard 1B
John Mayberry RF
Greg Dobbs DH
Miguel Cairo 2B
Jason Donald 3B
Ronny Paulino C
Kyle Kendrick P

Rays draw crowds on the road

At 9 a.m. more than 150 people stood in line outside Bright House Field in Clearwater to buy standing-room only tickets for this afternoon's game between the Rays and the Phillies.

Some waited as long as an hour.

Today marks the Rays second trip to the Tampa Bay area this spring. They played in Tampa on Thursday, drawing a sell-out crowd for the Yankees home opener.

OK, the Yankees always sell-out in Tampa, but there were a lot of Rays fans in that crowd. Even the Yankee fans stood and cheered the Rays when they were introduced before the game.

The Phillies are expecting their biggest home crowd of the spring, but I guess it should be noted that they opened against the Blue Jays and today is Saturday.

Still, maybe there is something to this separation between Tampa Bay and the Rays this spring.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Rays win! Rays win!

The Rays won their first game of the spring, pounding the visiting Red Sox 12-4 at Charlotte Sports Park.

The Rays, who scored one run in their first two games of the spring (both losses), pounded out 13 hits. Included were two run homers from Evan Longoria and Chris Richard and doubles by Elliot Johnson, Jason Bartlett and Fernando Perez.

Jeff Niemann looked sharp in his first appearance of the spring, allowing a hit with two strikeouts in his two innings.

Jason Cromer struck out five of the seven batters he faced.

The Rays return to action Saturday in Clearwater against the World Series champion Phillies.

Mitch Talbot is scheduled to start for the Rays.

Rocco and the raccoon

Well, the parking was much smoother before today's game with the Red Sox here at Charlotte Sports Park.

The only snag was a raccoon that got into the stadium and kept animal control officials busy for a while before trapping the critter and releasing it somewhere outside the stadium.

Rocco Baldelli made the trip to Port Charlotte and received a nice hand from the crowd during the pregame introductions.

Here are the lineups:

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Jed Lowrie SS
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Rocco Baldelli DH
Jason Bay LF
Brad Wilkerson RF
Dusty Brown C
Nick Green 2B
Angel Chavez 3B
Michael Bowden P

Fernando Perez CF
Jason Bartlett SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Pat Burrell DH
Willy Aybar 1B
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist LF
Gabe Gross RF
Elliot Johnson 2B
Jeff Niemann P

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yankees down Rays

Wade Davis looked awfully good during his two innings Thursday against the Yankees, striking out three straight at one point.

"I thought Wade was outstanding," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "A wonderful first performance."

The Yankees, though, sent the Rays to their second loss in as many games with a 5-1 victory at sold-out Steinbrenner Field.

Jorge Posada homered in the third inning and drove in another run with a double off the center field fence in the fifth. The Yankees put it away with a three-run homer by Shelley Duncan in the seventh that came off Calvin Medlock.

The Rays managed only five hits, all singles. They had four hits in Wednesday's loss to the Reds.

They've scored only one run in their first two spring games.

Yankees up 2-1 in 7th

The Rays ended an offensive drought that stretched across the first 15 innings of the spring when Jon Weber drove home the first run in two games with a seventh inning single that scored Elliot Johnson.

The Yankees lead 2-1 as they come to bat in the seventh.

Jorge Posada drove in both runs. He homered on the first pitch of the third inning, a fastball down the middle by Chad Orvella, then drove an RBI double to center field in the fifth inning.

Rays starter Wade Davis threw two scoreless innings and looked good in both.

Here's an interesting note to this game:

The Rays are actually drawing as many cheers as the Yankees.

Alex Rodrigues received more boos than cheers during his two at-bats, while Davis received a big hand after striking out Mark Teixeira to end the first inning.

Rays at Yankees

A beautiful day here at George M. Steinbrenner Field, formerly Legends Field, the spring quarters of the New York Yankees.

Across the street the flags fly at half staff at Raymond James Stadium in honor of the release of Derrick Brooks and the end of an era. Just kidding.

The Rays are here to help the Yankees play their home opener.

Looks like the Yankees are playing the varsity today. Not so the Rays.

Here are the lineups:

Adam Kennedy 2B
Carl Crawford LF
Willy Aybar DH
Morgan Ensberg 3B
Ben Zobrist SS
Gabe Kapler CF
Chris Richard 1B
Shawn Riggans C
Justin Ruggiano RF
Wade Davis P

Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Jorge Posada DH
Jose Molina C
Melky Cabrera CF
Phil Hughes P

An answer for the parking delays

In an effort to ease the parking delays getting into Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays announced the following ...

Parking lots will open at 10:00 a.m. and stadium gates will open at 11:00 a.m. for all 1:05 p.m. games, 30 minutes earlier than originally planned.

There will be an increase in the number of parking attendants stationed inside both the main Sports Park and Fairgrounds parking lots to increase efficiency in collecting parking fees and directing cars to parking locations.

Clearer signage will be posted to help patrons with special needs and those with passes for reserved lots identify designated parking areas

Fans are also encouraged to arrive early, carpool, and come with exact change when possible.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rays drop opener in new park

Well, at least the beer was cold.

The Rays opened Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte on Wednesday with a 7-0 loss to the Reds in the first spring training game played at that site since 2002.

Traffic on State Road 776 leading to the ball park was backed up for miles, causing many fans to miss the first four innings.

Most of 6,028 (not a sell out) were inside the park to see Jerry Hairston's grand slam off Randy Choate in the fourth inning for all the offense the Reds would need.

Adam Rosales hit a two-run homer off Mitch Talbot in the ninth for the final runs of the afternoon.

Rays starter Carlos Hernandez and Jason Hammel each threw a pair of scoreless innings. Hammel, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed three hits and struck out two.

For those who keep track of such things, Carl Crawford slapped an opposite-field single to left field in the first inning for the first hit in the new ball park.

The Rays return to action Thursday against the Yankees in Tampa.

Baby you can drive my car

It's the top of the fifth and cars are still lined up on State Road 776, the only road to and from this ball park.

It has taken some fans almost two hours to drive (Drive?)the final two miles from U.S. 41 to the stadium.

Aside from Jonny Gomes catching a bat that slipped out of the hands of Willy Taveras and flew into the Reds dugout, those sitting in traffic haven't missed much.

Really, the big news of the day is the moves made up in Tampa by the Bucs. They cut Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Cato June, Ike Hilliard and Joey Galloway.

No score after four.

Rays open new park

Let's play ball!

The Rays are about to play their first game at Charlotte Sports Park, which was known as Charlotte County Stadium when the Rangers trained here from 1987 to 2002.

The grounds crew is watering the infield and those throwing out the first pitches are receiving their instructions.

The B-52s are singing about a love shack, not live, though.

Rays owner Stu Sternberg is talking with former Ray Jonny Gomes, a non-roster invitee to the Reds camp.

Here are the lineups:

Willy Taveras CF
Jerry Hairston SS
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce rF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Chris Dickerson LF
Ramon Hernandez C
Jacque Jones DH
Edison Volquez P

Jason Bartlett SS
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Pat Burrell DH
Willy Aybar 1B
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist 2B
Gabe Gross RF
Fernando Perez CF
Carlos Hernandez P