Devil Rays 5, Blue Jays 4.
It was the type of game that can help a team salvage a little dignity in a lost season. It was the type of game that can remind team that they do know how to win a game.
Andy Sonnanstine allowed 2 runs in the first inning and immediately we assumed it was going to be just another night like most other nights in the last month and a half. The Rays cut the lead to 3-2 in the 5th inning, but Sonny was touched for a 4th run in the top of the 7th and it appeared that the Rays would play just well enough to tease us and just well enough to lose. We envisioned a final score of 7-2 with the Bullpen falling apart in yet another hapless game a the Trop.
We never harbored any hope of a win last night. We had lost our optimism weeks ago. But there were two factors we did not account for. The first was the suddenly revamped Devil Rays bullpen. Last night, five relievers, including two acquired over the weekend and a third that was called up from Durham, combined for 4.1 shutout innings.
The second factor was Superman. Carl Crawford took batting practice before last night’s game and his sore wrist needed at least one more night off. In fact, it now looks like C.C. will battle a sore wrist for the rest of the season. In the 9th inning, Crawford pinch ran for Jonny Gomes after he drew a 1-out walk. Crawford’s legs are just fine and he immediately moved into scoring position by stealing second base. He then moved to third on a fly ball to right field by Greg Norton. A Josh Wilson base hit and the game was tied.
We still assumed the bullpen would implode in extra innings. We can only expect them to hold the opposition down for so long. Al Reyes gave up a lead off double in the 10th but settle down to retire the side. In the bottom of the 10th, Crawford once again factored into the game without even making a plate appearance. With Brendan Harris on second with 2 outs, Delmon Young singled on a ground ball up the middle. With Crawford and his sore wrist on deck, Harris tried to score but was thrown out at the plate.
In the 11th, Scott Dohmann allowed the first two batters to get on base. “Here we go again,” is all we could muster. Yet somehow, Dohmann pitched his way out of trouble.
Superman is due to lead off the bottom of the 11th. Joe Maddon decides not to pinch hit for C.C. despite his sore wrist. Would he try a drag bunt? No. And on a 3-1 pitch, Crawford fouled off a ball on his first swing and winced in pain. Now we wondered aloud if we would not only lose this game, but we would lose Crawford for longer than “day-to-day”. But this is Superman. Crawford took the very next pitch to just left of center field for a walk-off home run.
In baseball, more so than football, fans often root for the players as much as the team. We try not to get too attached to any one player. If a trade is presented that will significantly improve the team, we want Andrew Friedman to make the move no matter what the Rays have to sacrifice. But Carl Crawford is the one player that we hope the Rays never trade. He is the one player in which we make sure we never miss a single pitch in which he is at bat or on the bases. He is the most exciting player in baseball. He can do it all…even with a sore wrist. Superman.
Here is hoping that Carl Crawford is a Tampa Bay Devil Ray for the next 15 years.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- Jays fans are not taking last night’s game very well. Great name for a blog, by the way. Before Tampa had a team, we spent much of our childhood in Dunedin for Spring Training and we were just as frustrated as most Jays fans every time Dave Stieb just missed a no-hitter. [THE TAO OF STIEB]
- They really aren’t taking it well. [Drunk Jays Fans]
- Entering last night’s action, the Rays had struck out in 23.7% of their at bats in July. ouch. [ESPN]
- The Rays may not be done dealing, as several teams may be interested in the Rays veteran relievers and/or Jonny Gomes. [tampabay.com]
[Andrew] Friedman said Monday night he “wouldn’t characterize anything as close or even likely to happen,” but acknowledged it could change quickly.
- Andrew Friedman could be actively trying to move Dan Wheeler who was just acquired from the Astros. MLB Trade Rumors offers some scenarios in which the Rays would move Wheeler for younger players. [MLB Trade Rumors]
- Al Reyes may be the Rays most valuable trading piece that remains. While the Rays do have an option on Reyes for 2008, we still believe that trading him is the best move. He will be 38 in 2008 and is only one year removed from his second Tommy John surgery. Now is the time to sell high. [TBO]
- Could the Mets be trying to acquire Carl Crawford? [MLB Trade Rumors]
- With Ty Wigginton gone and Ben Zobrist recalled from Durham, Brendan Harris will likely become the team’s most-days second baseman. [Devil Rays]
- JK Ryu was optioned back to Durham where he will enter the Bulls’ rotation to be a starting pitcher. [Devil Rays]
- Don’t get us wrong, we loved the way Ty Wigginton played the game, but for some reason we never really had such a strong affinity for the player, and were not all that sad to see him go. With Akinori Iwamura and Evan Longoria there was no room at third base with Iwamura likely to move to second base sooner rather than later. In addition, Carlos Pena looks like a fixture at first base for the next few years. Wiggy was a nice bat. He hit some clutch home runs and he was consistent defensively. Still, he was never going to be any better than a 20-home run, 90-RBI bat with no range defensively. The Rays pitchers have extremely high BABIP numbers and part of that is due to an infield that lets more groundballs through for base hits than would normally be expected. [TBO]
Wigginton was nothing but classy and professional during his time here but he also was soon to be a man without a position.
- Shawn Camp was surprised by his demotion…Shawn: Players have been castrated for less. [TBO]
- What if the Giants did move to Tampa-St. Pete in 1993? What if Barry Bonds was wearing a Tampa Bay uniform instead of a San Francisco uniform? [The Sporting Orange]
- Some bloggers made the trip to the Trop on Friday night and lived to write about it. [Sports Indeed]
- How many titles have the Devil Rays won? Well, since you asked, it is exactly one less than the Red Sox have won in the last 89 years. [the mighty quinn media machine]
- Red Sox fans did not take Sunday’s loss to the Devil Rays too well. [Surviving Grady]
- We are a little late on this, but congratulations to Casey Fossum and his wife on the birth of their third child. [Celebrity Baby Blog]