As I had hoped, the Rays managed to find a way to split the series with the Athletics in Oakland, which also gives the Rays the season-series win. Coming in to Sunday’s game the Rays were tied for the season-series with the A’s, a team that has given the Rays a lot of trouble in Oakland over the years. So, it seemed very appropriate, for some kind of possible redemption value at least, that they would be facing Dallas Braden. Dallas Braden, of course, is the Athletics starter that hurled the perfect game against the Rays back on May 9th of this year.
So when, in the top of the third inning, the leadoff batter Sean Rodriguez hit a bullet past a diving Oakland third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff in to left field, I think Rays fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief! Then then very next batter Kelly Shoppach doubled in Sean Rodriguez to put the Rays on the board first…1-0 Rays. Things were kind of uneventful until the bottom of the fifth when after one out Garza gave up a single and a walk and then Sean Rodriguez’s error on a potential double play ball found the Rays facing a bases loaded with one out situation. On an 0-2 count on Coco Crisp, umpire James Hoye called a Balk on Garza, which brought the tying run across the plate! Nobody (except for James Hoye) is sure exactly what happened. Something about Garza moved after he was set or his shoulder twitched or something like that. I don’t know. Garza said he was shrugging off a pitch. Either way, all season long the umpires have made it very clear that they are going to do whatever they can to make it difficult for the Rays to enter the postseason or the World Series for that matter. Bud Selig and the umpires have their heads so far up the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Phillies asses its pathetic. Tampa Bay just isn’t a big enough market yet. Think about all the viewership and the merchandise that would be sold if the World Series every year was the Yankees vs. Dodgers, or the Red Sox vs. Phillies. No problem, they can continue their campaign against the Rays, but the Rays will continue to fight back day after day night after night. All you bandwagon Guido Yankees fans can continue to remind me of the Yankees 27 championships (or RINGS, as you Jersey Shore knuckleheads like to refer to them as). I will laugh to myself because I know you don’t know the first thing about baseball, you just like the gear because you think it’s a fashion statement and you come to the Trop to get drunk and start a fight.
Wow…kind of went off on a little tangent there. Anyway, back to the game, after a few words with umpire James Hoye, Garza returned to the mound and collected himself. Coco Crisp hit a rocket on the very next pitch towards first base, but because the Rays have Carlos Pena playing first base and not someone like…ohh I don’t know…Lance Berkman or Mark Teixeira, an exceptional defensive play was made and the out was recorded. Then, after falling behind the next batter, Daric Barton, Garza managed to come back and strike him out to end the inning. The next inning , Evan Longoria doubled in two runs, putting the Rays up 3-1. Fast forward all the way to 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. I’ll make this short and sweet…the home-plate umpire dropped the ball again (not literally…well, kind of), allowing the Athletics to score making it 3-2. But, because the Rays are resilient, Soriano struck out Chad Pennington for the final out of the game. The Rays 76th win of the season and Soriano’s 37th save, which leads the American League.
The Rays are now 76-48 on the season, which is one full game behind the Yankees for the lead of the American League East Division, and leads the Red Sox by 5 1/2 for the Wild Card spot. The Rays roll in to Anaheim tonight to face the Angels with 38 games left to play on the season. The Rays will face the Angels in a three game series, and then they head home to fight it out with the Red Sox and then the Blue Jays. The Angels have been struggling lately, so hopefully the Rays can continue their forward momentum and pick up some ground on the Yankees. Go Rays!