The Tampa Bay Rays won their fourth straight game at Tropicana Field Monday night, demoralizing the New York Yankees by a score of 5-1. The Rays have now won 12 of 14 meetings against the Yankees in St. Petersburg dating back to the 2011 season, while CC Sabathia — who now has a 3-9 record, and a plus-four ERA in his last 19 starts against the Rays — took another loss at the hands of the good guys. In short: Matt Moore killed it, the offense stepped up once more, and those jackals at ESPN opened their mouths and — once again — inserted their collective feet into the gaping hole.
Posting an 8 IP/2 H/1 R/1 ER/3 BB/9 K/1 HR slash line on 117 pitches (73 for strikes), Rays starter Matt Moore was absolutely dominant. His fastball velocity was noticeably down — sitting somewhere in the 92-95 MPH range — but Moore was effective with his command, throwing his two-seam fastball for strikes almost 76% of the time. A few people have posed an interesting question: Might Moore be throwing with less gas in order to better locate his pitches?
It’s not unheard of. Wade Davis took a couple of miles per hour off his fastball in 2012, and his location drastically improved. It’s an interesting thought in the least. Nevertheless, when Moore wasn’t throwing his fastball, he leaned on his deadly off-speed stuff to keep the Yankees hitters off-balance. Throwing 13 changeups for strikes (76%), the young lefty looked downright whiffy, inducing six swings and misses.
On the offensive side of things, Tampa Bay was able to pummel CC Sabathia early on, tagging him for five runs on six hits (three homers, a single, and a triple) and a hit by pitch. Both Ryan Roberts and Yunel Escobar had a good night at the plate, going a combined four-for-seven with three homers, three runs, and four runs batted in. I’m particularly impressed with Roberts.
After bashing two well-struck homers, Roberts followed things up with a line drive single for his third hit of the night. As Joe Maddon pointed out in his post game presser, many players would try to get greedy after hitting two-homers, but Roberts kept it simple and reached base for a third time in four at-bats. That is, he didn’t over swing as he’s been wan to do.
Evan Longoria and Sean Rodriguez were are also part of the offensive narrative, each reaching base and scoring a run. SeanRod hit the Rays first triple of the season in the first inning, while Longoria singled to center (also in the first), reaching base safely for the 33rd consecutive game. Sabathia would ultimately settle in after the third inning, putting up zeroes from the fourth inning on. But not before the damage was done.
Then there was ESPN’s coverage of the game. Oy vey.
We here at X-Rays Spex headquarters would like to send a huge fuck you to Dick Vitale, Rick Sutcliffe, and the rest of the jackals at ESPN for espousing their opinions regarding the Stadium Saga. To be clear, I fully support the building of a new facility… But only if the terms are right. That is to say, if a suitable location can be decided upon and if the local tax payers are not left on the hook to pay the lot share, build and build away. I’d imagine that most people in this area feel the same.
However, it is not a national sports commentators place to espouse his/her opinions on any local issues, period. That includes Dick Vitale who just happens to call this area his home. He helped to — once again — turn a local issue into a national one the very instant he tweeted the nation at large:
Can’t believe all the empty seats tonight with the Yanks tonight – #PATHETIC team needs a NEW STADIUM NOW!
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) April 23, 2013
Gee mister Vitale, a new (or refurbished) facility really improved the attendance for seven of the eight teams averaging less than the Rays, eh? It’s really done wonders for a team like the Mets who are averaging under 26,000 fans per game, huh? Besides, you used “tonight” twice in one sentence. What kind of reporting is that? Pfft.
That opinion was furthered by Rick Sutcliffe who agreed with Vitale, and defended his opinion in a tweet,
@mdb0576 my opinion comes from the fans I’ve talked to? Tell me more?
— Rick Sutcliffe (@Sut_ESPN) April 23, 2013
Sutcliffe is forgetting that regardless if his opinion is based on what a handful fans may have relayed to him, that knowledge does not make him the defacto mouthpiece for a new stadium, nor does it make his opinion any more valid.
Their thinly veiled attempt at becoming part of the narrative is more akin with Wolf Blitzer reporting about a cat that’s stuck in a Paducah, Kentucky tree, than it is with presenting a credible argument that we — the citizens of the Tampa Bay area — may have never taken into consideration. These counterproductive comments, though timely, will have no bearing on the ultimate outcome.
We are well versed on the ins and outs of the Stadium Saga. To be honest, no self respecting citizen of this community would have watched ESPN’s telecast with the volume on. Who then are they trying to sell their less-than cogent ideas to?
In the end, these comments have done nothing to “further the cause.” If anything, the consistent barrage of patronizing remarks have given a national audience the impression that our fan-base is a weak one; a fan-base that can scarcely support one professional franchise, much less three.
These topics shouldn’t be up for national scrutiny or debate. They are our crosses to bear, not Joe Baseball Fan from Yuma, Arizona. To the ESPN’s of the world, butt out. Let us deal with our collective “stuff.” (Expletive deleted) Besides, I’m sure there’s a successful franchise in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles that you can fawn over.
The New What Next
The Rays will attempt to continue their four game winning streak against Phil Hughes and the Yankees. The Rays will throw David Price on the mound Tuesday. Both he and Hughes are searching for their first win of the year. You can read about the match-ups here.
Rays 4/23/13 Starting Lineup (Per the Tampa Chamber of Commerce)
- Looks like Joe Maddon let the Tampa Chamber of Commerce put together the lineup for tonight. Truth told, it doesn’t look half bad.
- Per our good friends at the Rays Tank, Luke Scott is expected to start his minor league rehab stint today (Tuesday).
- By the by, if you want to tweet both Rick Sutcliffe and Dick Vitale, here are their handles: @Sut_ESPN and @DickieV