THE GOOD: Carlos Pena hit his 3rd HR of the young season, this one off of a tough lefty in Erik Bedard. One thing El Gato did well in ’07 was hitting lefties. 11 of his 46 HR came off of lefties last year or about 1 every 11 at bats compared to 1 every 10 at bats versus righties…Willy Aybar tied the game in the 3rd with the best kind of RBI, a 2-strike, 2-out single…BJ Upton made two catches, one to end the 4th and the other to start the 5th that looked a lot easier than they were. Usually when watching a flyball over the head of an outfielder on TV when the camera first catches the outfielder, they are just starting to stride towards the wall. In both of these cases, Upton was already in full stride by the time the camera caught him, suggesting he is getting incredible jumps on the ball and is much more comfortbale going back on balls this year as compared to last year. Upton will win a Gold Glove award in the near future…Jason Bartlett made a couple of outstanding defensive stops and combined with Aki Iwamura on a flawless 4-6-3 double play in the 2nd and another on a tough slow hopper that ended the 8th and saved a run.

THE BAD: The Rays had 1st and 3rd with 1 out in the 1st and failed to push a run home. BJ Upton struck out followed by a Jonny Gomes ground out…Before pulling himself from the game, Matt Garza had already thrown 70 pitches in less than 3 innings including a bases loaded walk in the 3rd…The biggest gaffe of the night was Shawn Riggans brainfart in the 6th inning. After catching a pop up behind the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd, Riggans forgot to call time allowing the runner on 1st to advance to 2nd. That runner would score the run that would give the M’s the lead for good…Of course that only slightly beats out the play at third that eventually led to Joe Maddon’s ejection. Even though replays showed that BJ Upton was in fact safe, will somebody please explain to us WHY THE HELL Upton is trying to leg out a triple with 1 out in this 7th inning of a 1-run game WITH ONLY ONE FRIGGIN’ SHOE?!?! Dumb…Dumb…Dumb.

THE TELLING: Shawn Riggans hit his first major league home run and you sure could tell from his home run “trot”. He looked like he was trying to leg out an inside-the-parker…Jeff Niemann pitched for AAA Durham last night which would put him on schedule to pitch again on Sunday, which is when the Rays will need another starting pitcher to replace the DL’s Matt Garza.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Matt Garza removed himself from the game with 2 outs in the 3rd inning with an irritated nerve in his throwing arm. According to Garza this has been a recurring problem that he can usually pitch through, but last night he was having trouble gripping his pitches. Garza was placed on the 15-day DL after the game and JK Ryu was recalled from Durham. Ryu will pitch in relief for the next 4 days and then he or somebody else will be sent to Durham for a starting pitcher to take Garza’s spot in the rotation. That pitcher would most likely be Jeff Niemann who would be making his big league debut. Niemann pitched last night for Durham and will be on full-rest for Sunday’s game against Baltimore. [Rays Report]
  • Back in December and January we ran our “12 Days Of Raysmas” and on the 8th day we wanted “8 Ejections For Joe Maddon” in 2008. Prior to this season, Papa Joe had been ejected 6 times. Of those ejections, 3 were versus his former empoyer, the Angels, in only 17 games. While Maddon may indeed be just as competitive against other teams, we felt it would boost the morale of fans and the players to see the intensity against the rest of the league. And while 8 ejections may be a bit extreme, Papa Joe got off to a good start with his first of 2008 in the 7th inning arguing a call at third base. Maddon is now on pace for 23 ejections this season…Just sayin’. [MLB]
  • Last night was the 9th sellout in the 11-year history of the Tampa Bay Rays. Five of those were home openers. Joe Maddon would like to see the Rays build on the momentum of the opening night crowd by having a strong homestand. [The Ledger]

“To me, opening day is opening day, regardless of if it’s home or the road,” said Maddon. “But it’s always nice to come back, especially with what’s going on right now, with the spring that we had and the nice road trip to start the season.”

  • Scott Kazmir threw 42 pitches to several teammates in a bullpen session. He was consistently in the mid-90s and threw several changeups and sliders. Kaz says he is ready to see game action and could pitch in an extended spring training game as early as this Friday. [MLB]
  • MLB President Bob Dupuy showed up for opening night and put his support behind the Rays proposed stadium, noting that it was a win-win situation for the city of St. Pete. And while he said he was impressed with the improvements to the Trop in recent years, the Rays can’t compete in this stadium long-term. [Tampa Tribune]

“I think when you see what’s happened in other communities,” Dupuy said, “and you see what’s happened in attendance, you see what’s happened in enthusiasm and you see what’s happened in the community, I think it’s important to get that type of ballpark here.”

  • Carlos Pena received his Comeback Player of the Year award prior to last night’s game. [MLB]
 
 

9 Comments

  1. Jules Winnfield says:

    If Upton had rightly been called safe, would you be asking why he was trying to turn it into a triple? I don’t think so.

  2. Clayton says:

    Glad Joe got himself tossed. I am so tired of those calls going against us.

  3. The Professor says:

    I might not be as upset about the play but I called it stupid when he rounded second while watching the game live.

    He was running in one sock and it was clear that he was not running as fast as we are used to seeing.

    And in a 1-run game in the 7th he should not have bee taking that chance. Even if he is called safe there, he is putting the call in the hands of the umpire. Why risk that in that situation?

  4. Jules Winnfield says:

    Maybe he knows how poorly the Rays hit with RISP and didn’t think they could get a hit to knock him in, so he elected to try for third so they could get a sac fly?

  5. The Professor says:

    that is possible and I am usually a big proponent of aggressive baserunning but in that case having lost his shoe in the batter’s box, I would have preferred to see him err on the side of caution. and if he had been called safe as a former coach I can tell you I would have pulled him aside later and said, “ok, you got away with it that time…”

  6. Jules Winnfield says:

    I’m also pretty sure that in the heat of the moment like that he probably didn’t even think about his shoe not being on, and like most speedy players, felt like he could get in easily.

  7. Anonymous says:

    how serious is this radial nerver thing? can anyone explain this to me?

  8. The Professor says:

    Obviously I am not a real doctor…but the good news is that there is nothing “structurally” wrong with his arm.

    this is similar to when you lay or lean on your elbow the wrong way and your hand “falls asleep” and you get that tingly, needles poking feeling.

    basically the nerves running from your hand to the brain pass through the elbow and leaning on your elbow causes the hand nerves to misfire tricking your brain into thinking something is happening to the hand.

    i’m not sure exactly what is going on with Garza but it is something along the same lines only something is causing it to happen consistently (constantly?) only at a much lower level rather than really bad for 5 minutes.

    My best guess is that the nerve is being “pinched” but there can be other causes like poor blood flow to the nerves or inflammation of the nerve.

    it is most likely something that can be treated very easily but I have no idea how long it will take. and once it is “fixed” there most likely will not be any permanent or long-lasting problems.

  9. Jules Winnfield says:

    Talked to Will Carroll about it and he said it was bad.

    This is from today’s Under The Knife

    “It was not the way that Garza wanted to start his career pitching for Tampa Bay—he was ineffective for seventy pitches, then called for the trainers. Garza was feeling pain in his hand, the result of what the team is calling a radial nerve irritation. He said that he’d also dealt with this last season, and that it would go away, but the Rays have to be a bit unnerved (no pun intended) to now hear that this is a recurring problem. One can only wonder if it was a known issue when they made the deal, but in the meantime Garza heads for the DL, and there are a wide range of possibilities for how long he might be out. Given the conservative tendencies of the Rays, I’m going to put this one in the middle of the possible range. The best case is that this goes away as Garza says has happened before, and that he gets his work in on the side without any additional issue cropping up. The worst case is that the nerve needs to be decompressed surgically, something I don’t have any points of comparison for. One doctor I spoke with said the same thing, and wouldn’t speculate on how long the player would be out post-surgery; that’s never a good sign. Expect Jeff Niemann to get Garza’s starts in the interim.”

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