Results tagged ‘ Tropicana Field ’
A tough loss spoiled what was great Opening Day atmosphere at a sold-out Tropicana Field Tuesday afternoon.
Cy Young award winner David Price took the mound against former Ray Jason Hammel. It wasn’t one of Price’s better starts, as he struggled with command throughout the game.
Matt Wieters—who was one of three Orioles hitters to have big games offensively—started the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning.
Although those were the only two runs Price would allow, he didn’t exactly settle in after the first. He managed to get through only six innings (100 pitches), and finished the day with 7 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Great defense behind him, most notably from Evan Longoria who made three outstanding plays at third, helped out Price a lot in this ballgame.
Overall, it was a pretty solid start from Price, who kept his team in the game throughout. The three issues he had were with efficiency, some mislocation—which led to a handful of hard-hit balls—and velocity. It shouldn’t be a concern, though, as it was his first start of the season.
Offensively, the Tampa’s bats were worryingly quiet in the first three innings. They put together only one single, which was the only runner to reach until the fourth.
Ben Zobrist, who had that only hit, opened up the scoring for the Rays with a solo dinger to right, making it a one-run ballgame. All the way up until the sixth, Hammel was still flying through frames, on pace for a complete game in terms of pitch count.
The Rays were able to get to Hammel in the sixth. Kelly Johnson started off the rally with a leadoff walk, and then Desmond Jennings—who looked great all day at the plate—followed with an game-tying double down the third base line. After a Sam Fuld bunt, the Rays took the lead with a sac fly off the bat of Zobrist.
Jake McGee entered the game in relief of Price in seventh, looking to keep it a 3-2 game in Tampa’s favor. Unfortunately, it was the turning point in this game as things would unfold for McGee and the Rays.
McGee found himself in a jam: Two runners on with two outs and Adam Jones up to bat. Two high-velocity fastballs got him ahead in the count 0-2, leaving Jones—who hadn’t had success at all in the past against McGee—in a bad position. But McGee, who was struggling with command from the beginning of his outing, missed location very badly, giving Jones a fastball right down the middle:
He took advantage, and raked the pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run double, giving Baltimore a 4-3 lead.
After intentionally walking Matt Wieters, the lefty swinging Chris Davis was next to face McGee. With two men on, Davis crushed the first pitch he saw for a three-run blast, blowing the Orioles’ lead open to 7-3. He was served with a slow 91 MPH pitch in a terrible location:
It was a day to forget for McGee, who is one of baseball’s best up-and-coming relievers, but simply didn’t have it Tuesday. He gave up five earned runs on four hits while recording just two outs in what was the worst performance of his big-league career. He allowed just 12 runs in the entire 2012 season (55.1 IP).
There wasn’t much action in this game after the seventh. Jamey Wright, who relieved McGee, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth without any damage. Cesar Ramos had a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Rays tacked on one more run via a Sam Fuld RBI groundout in the eighth, but weren’t able to get any kind of rally going against Baltimore’s strong bullpen.
Here’s some notable stat lines from Tuesday’s game:
- D. Jennings: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, SB
- B. Zobrist: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HR
- E. Longoria: 1-4
- A. Jones: 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI
- M. Wieters: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
- Here’s a full boxscore
The Rays return to action tonight against the Orioles for Game 2 of this three-game series. Jeremy Hellickson will start against right-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
After a long winter of anticipation, baseball is finally returning to Tropicana Field! The Rays will kick off the 2013 season today at 3:10 ET with a sold-out home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Lineups for the game are out.
Rays: Jennings CF, Fuld RF, Zobrist 2B, Longoria 3B, Joyce LF, Escobar SS, Loney 1B, Molina C, Johnson DH, Price P
Orioles: Markakis RF, Machado 3B, Jones CF, Wieters C, Davis 1B, Hardy SS, Reimold LF, Pearce DH, Roberts 2B, Hammel SP
The Rays finalized both their 40-man and 25-man roster Sunday. With DH Luke Scott headed to the DL, right-handed power hitter Shelley Duncan was added to the Opening Day roster as his replacement.
Relievers Jamey Wright—who will be in the bullpen Opening Day—and Juan Carlos Oviedo (60-day DL) were added to the 40-man roster as well.
Utility man Stephen Vogt and catcher Robinson Chirinos were both designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Here’s a look at the complete 40-man roster, including player contract statuses and payroll:
Courtesy of RaysIndex.com. All players in white except for Oviedo are on the Opening Day roster.
News from around the league:
- MLB’s first slate of regular season games was yesterday. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 8-2 in Yankee Stadium, Bryce Harper homered twice, and Clayton Kershaw had a performance for the ages. Here’s a complete scoreboard from Sunday’s action.
- The Rangers signed shortstop Elvis Andrus to a huge eight-year extension.
Two days ago, a Cleveland Indians blog called DidTheTribeWinLastNight.com asked me a few questions as part of their Offseason Swap Series. Their goal is to feature five Q & As from every MLB team to feature on their site. Below are the questions DTTWLN asked me regarding the Rays. Click here to view the full link of the post.
Question 1 – The Rays had a great September but couldn’t keep it going in the playoffs. Do you think the energy they used to get into the playoffs was just too much for the rotation and team to handle?
I don’t think this was the reason for their abrupt exit at all. The team they played, the Texas Rangers, simply outplayed the Rays. The Rangers were very ready for the postseason again this year, and proved that they were the champions of the American League. Although the Rays had the advantage in pitching, the offensive production was not even comparable. Texas has some excellent veteran hitters on their roster, including Michael Young (second-highest average), Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Adrian Beltre (3 home runs in game 4), Mike Napoli, and more terrific players. What makes Texas such a great club, is they are able to get the clutch hits that the Rays can’t. This is why they were just one strike away from a World Series title. The Rays rotation definitely didn’t choke, they were just met by the hottest bats in Major League Baseball.
Question 2 – Rumors are abound that the Rays ownership is short on funds. Do you have any insight into the teams financial situation?
It’s pretty clear by now that the Rays have financial problems. I definitely do see a baseball future in the Tampa area, but some improvements will eventually need to happen. At the moment the attendance is not adequate, which is the main reason for low income. The media has constantly ripped on Tampa Bay, claiming that the fans don’t deserve the Rays and etc. Popular reasons why the Rays have low attendance is because of bad stadium location, high unemployment rates, etc. These reasons may all be a part of the issue, but everyone seems to miss the biggest reason. Tropicana Field is located near Florida’s Gulf Coast, home to some of America’s most beautiful beaches. There are so many outdoor activities that residents can do from spring to fall. When you think of the other teams that have a similar situation, one that comes to mind is the Marlins. They have even worse attendance. They also know how to win, as they have won two World Championships in their 18-year history. At the end of the day, I think that the Rays need to continue to have successful seasons for their financial issues to improve. The more wins the better, and one World Series title could change everything.
Question 3 – Fans seem to stay away from Tropicana Field in droves. What are the chances we see a new ballpark for this, now, very competitive team in the near future?
The Rays new ballpark is something that would surely help with the financial problems, but it doesn’t seem like something to anticipate for now. Unfortunately, any new stadium for the Rays is at least 3-5 years from any kind of reality. Contrary to popular belief, Tropicana Field is not a low-quality stadium at all. A new stadium, however, would excite sports fans and would get more people to come to the ballpark. Building a brand new stadium also costs money though, a lot of money. And money is the thing that most limits the Rays, and is really not helping this situation. I don’t feel much progress happening now, but it could happen in the future if the Rays feel that they truly need it.
Question 4 – How much longer can the Rays keep battling the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox when they don’t spend big bucks the way those two teams do?
The answer is simple; As long as the terrific farm system lasts. The Rays are built around their great young prospects, and good coaching is what transforms them into quality ballplayers that can play with the big boys. What’s impressive about the Rays young roster more than any other young club, is that they probably make less mental mistakes than the veterans. The Rays have the youngest team but amazingly are able to play the most error-free and clean baseball. Most would think it would be the opposite, but a lot of incredible things happen with Joe Maddon’s management. The Rays unique style of baseball is what keeps them in the competition year after year. When you can’t ever be like a team, don’t try to be like them. How the Rays run their ball club is the true definition of ‘Moneyball’, rather than Oakland’s past efforts that never actually led to any more success than a playoff spot.
Question 5 – What does the 2012 season hold for the Tampa Bay Rays?
I believe that 2012 will be another successful season for the Rays. My prediction is not just purely out of optimism, but the Rays look like they will have a pretty good roster next year. 2011 was a very exciting and memorable season, but the Rays really want to take the next step. Being stopped in the ALDS two straight years by the same team is pretty frustrating, especially after having such impressive regular seasons. The two players that Rays Republic should be most excited about in 2012, are Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore, two phenom rookies with never-ending abilities it seems. Both of them showed that they are ready for The Show after their impressive performances this season. These next few months will also effect the Rays in 2012, as there are some offseason moves to be made. It’s still early in the offseason, and there will probably be more new faces to join the Rays next year. Andrew Friedman seems to know what he’s doing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls off another great offseason. So far the Rays have acquired a veteran catcher and traded away a young catcher. Still some holes need to be filled in, such as DH and first base. Also, the new MLB playoff format will have an impact on the Rays’ future, maybe more than any other team. In the toughest division in baseball, finishing in third place and making the postseason is great news for Rays fans. It will be pretty interesting how it effects the Rays in 2012 and the following years to come.
The big topic around Rays baseball has been the attendance issue. It isn’t a new problem at all, but seems to be getting much more attention after the conclusion of the 2011 season. A few days ago, Stuart Sternberg basically stated that the attendance was simply inadequate to support a MLB team. Here’s some quotes from his frustration boiling over:
“I am frustrated this year. We’ve replicated last year [on the field] and our attendance numbers were down 15 percent and our ratings were down. The rubber has got to meet the road at some point here. When you go through the season, you control your own destiny, if you win out. We’re getting to the point where we don’t control our own destiny. This is untenable as a model going forward.
“”When you’re sitting here at this point and you lost by a run, you know another X dollars might have changed things. Three or five million wouldn’t have changed things necessarily but 15 to 30 might have. That’s where we were. And for the foreseeable future that’s what we’ve got … Whatever you want to say, there are 29 other teams passing us like we’re going in reverse right now. Except on the field. And at some point that changes.”
The timing for this public statement was terrible, and is starting to irk fans around Rays Republic. He also said: “This is untenable as a model going forward”. If Stu could of just waited a month or two to say this, it wouldn’t have such a negative vibe to it.
At the end of the day, what he said is unfortunately true and is a real issue. This year, the Rays recorded the second-lowest average home attendance than any team in baseball (under 19K). Even down the stretch during the exciting run and in playoff games, the attendance was under-par. Another thing that dipped this year, was the TV and radio ratings. We’re not talking about just any baseball team, we’re talking about probably the most exciting team in baseball for the last four years. This is a team that did the impossible, completing a historical comeback to knock out the Boston Red Sox this year with a $39 million payroll. They’ve made the playoffs three out of past four years, and possess the best young players in the game. So the winning is obviously not a problem with the attendance. The question is, what keeps the fans from showing up to the games? For a start, the Tampa Bay area is one of the worst economic regions in the country. The unemployment rate there is almost 12%. I’m not trying to make an excuse, but rather provide some food for thought. On the contrary to the media and blogging world calling Tropicana Field a lousy stadium, I have to strongly disagree. The stadium itself is not bad, it’s the location that is unacceptable. Tropicana Field is 72 degrees every game, there are no postponements, and getting from point A to B inside the stadium is quite simple. It doesn’t have any foul odors or anything else that has been rumored in the media. But I do believe the St. Pete location prevents a percentage of fans from coming. Most of the fan base is in north of St. Pete (by Tampa). With the traffic and the roads that lead to the stadium, it isn’t a very short trip. So to summarize all that, I think a new stadium in Tampa would definitely help. I’m never going to say that Tropicana Field is a bad stadium, but I will say that a new stadium could be necessary in the future.
A new stadium could attract many tourists, as well as the great fan-base in Tampa. Money is a problem though. It’s a huge investment and the Rays aren’t producing nearly enough revenue right now to pay for something like this. Another reason for the Rays lack of attendance, is the age of the franchise. The (Devil) Rays started just 11 years ago, which many critics fail to mention. By that time, many residents in the area already had a favorite baseball team. Florida consists many elder residents, that are from the Northeast and the Midwest. You can’t expect them to be huge Rays fans if they’ve been rooting for a team their whole life. In opposition to what the media/blogging world says; Tampa Bay fans do deserve the Rays. If you think about it, what other city would produce adequate attendance in America. There’s none that I can think of. So if a MLB team doesn’t work in Tampa Bay, then where will it succeed. That’s why a new (indoor) stadium in Tampa could save the Rays. Progress will be gradual, and it probably will take a few years before serious discussion. I think that the Marlins (who also have low attendance) getting their new ballpark will inspire the franchise to take a step forward. I truly believe that the Rays fans will bounce back next year and prove all the critics wrong. Relocation is not necessary if the fans start showing up, and I am confident they will. Rays Republic is so tired of getting bashed, and will respond next year. The Rays have defied every possible odd; I think they can save their franchise. If you’ve learned anything about the Rays by now, you know to never count them out.
A better script couldn’t be written than the story of the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. In 2008, it was a story with new “chapters” added as the magical season progressed. The sequel to that story is not 2009 or 2010, it’s this year. This year is the second year that the Rays have shocked the baseball nation. What makes this season so amazing is how the Rays earned a spot in the playoffs after this long and winding road of the regular season. An unforgettable season that will go down in baseball history because of the epic collapse of the Boston Red Sox. A team that was often a preseason favorite to win it all, after their enormous off-season. Just like in 2008, everyone wrote off the Rays in the beginning of the season. It seemed as if many criticts would prove to be right when the Rays were trailing the Wild Card by 9 games in September. The hustling and worry-free Rays then started to slowly climb back into the picture, as the pressured Red Sox were totally collapsing. It would come down to the wire, game 162, to decide who would play in October or if there would be a tiebreaker. The Rays were trailing 7-0 in the 8th, and Boston was up in the 9th with two outs and nobody on. It couldn’t more perfect than what happened on that historic night. The Rays would comeback and be saved by Dan Johnson, just like in 2008, and would walk-off by none other than Tampa Bay’s sports icon Evan Longoria. But it gets even better though. Meanwhile in Baltimore, Paplebon is trying to close out a sure win. With a 3-2 Boston lead, the O’s were down to their last out of the season with the bases empty. There would be no Irish Jig for Paplebon that night, as the Birds would smack three hits in a row for a comeback victory.
The last hit was a catchable line-drive to left field, and guess who dropped the baseball to end their depressing season? Oh yes, it was Carl Crawford. It was just a perfect day of baseball. That night really defined the miraculous season for the Rays into a nutshell. Being down 7-0 in the 8th with their rivals an out a way from winning, the Rays once again showed the world that anything is possible in the game of baseball. Nobody would of ever thought it would all play it like this; but that’s not what the Rays needed to win. The incredible season isn’t over, as they still have another big mission in 2011. The Rays want and can bring a title to Tampa. Doing that would silence the countless critics and fans that have been putting down the Rays’ fans and stadium all year. Winning it all would surely quiet the many saying that relocation is the only option for the franchise. Last night was a step in the right direction, as the Rays stunned the Rangers with a brutal 9-0 Game 1 win in Arlington.
Phenom Matt Moore was called to start the game against the huge Texas bats in just his second major league start. Just called up a few weeks ago, Moore didn’t let anyone down with a stellar outing. Seven scoreless innings in a postseason game at Arlington is absolutely remarkable. With all the momentum, it will be exciting to see what the Rays can do in the postseason. But just like in the regular season, we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
As of early May this season, it seemed like a new legend may have been born in Tampa Bay. Although there was plenty of talent expected out of the Matt Garza trade, Sam Fuld wasn’t exactly a highlighted name when the trade was publicly announced across the nation. For a matter of fact, Samuel “Sam” Babson Fuld was many times given the title of “….and a minor league player”. Going into Spring Training, Fuld had a lot to prove. Although Fuld wasn’t a big name, the expectations weren’t so low. Without Crawford the Rays didn’t know who their left fielder would be. They knew they had options, but they were also aware that it was very unlikely they were going to have a close replacement to Crawford in the near future. Crawford was a big blow to the Rays at first, no Ray outfielder could potentially do all the things Crawford did in the previous year. Fuld took this opportunity, and made the best out of it. Although he only batted a mild .277 in Spring Training, Maddon liked what he saw and Fuld became the Rays Opening Day starter out in left. Fuld responded to this by starting of the season with a bang, exactly the opposite of the team. As the Rays continued to struggle in April, Fuld went on a tear with a 28-hit month. His name started to grab national attention in a heart-beat, and the Rays had another young player rise up in the baseball world.
His name really started to get notice when he made a nearly impossible catch against the White Sox in Chicago. In didn’t take long at all before he was dubbed “Super Sam”. Amazing catch after amazing catch was made across ballparks in America, and it was clear that his glove was going to be his signature tool in the big leagues. As his career was building, so was the Rays win column. The Rays would keep on winning, but Sam Fuld average was rapidly dipping. Fuld cooled off offensively in May, hitting a low .157 average. But his speed on the basepads and his glovework in left field kept him in the lineup, and his legend alive. Although these things continued through the season, Fuld was just not getting it done at the plate. Maddon was pretty much forced to remove him from his everyday-starter role, and the legend began to slowly disintegrate. Then there were injuries and things got even worse for Fuld. Then phenom Desmond Jennings was called up, and ultimately took over the job in left field.
Jennings’ call-up was a big boost for the team, but Fuld was almost totally forgotten at that point. Here we are in a tight race in mid-September, and Fuld is out with a hurt wrist and hasn’t played a game since late-August. Desmond Jennings is now the everyday-starter in left field, and Sam Fuld’s legend has virtually disappeared. Fuld still has a bright future ahead of him, and I truly believe that he will eventually restore the legend. Although his bat wasn’t so great in ’11, his glove and speed was still impressive. It wasn’t a bad rookie year at all, not many can light up the highlight reel like that guy. Hopefully he’ll be a Ray for a long time, and we’ll always have a fearless outfielder to count on. Wether he’s crashing in to walls, warming up on the mound, or wearing a cape; Sam Fuld was meant to be a Ray.