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Rays Bounce Back Even Series in 5-2 Win

Derek Holland watches Even Longoria after Longoria hit a two run homer in the top of the 5th inning Sunday

The Tampa Bay Rays after losing the first two games of their series against the Texas Rangers at the Trop have come back to even the series at two as they won game four of the series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rays had excellent pitching from Wade Davis and the bullpen quartet of Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano which limited the usually hot hitting Rangers to just 2 runs on 8 hits. The Rays were lifted by the clutch hitting of Evan Longoria who broke out of his slump with a 2 run homer in the 5th inning off of Rangers’ starter Eric Holland.  Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton add RBI doubles and the Rays were aided by an error by Ian Kinsler which allowed Carlos Pena to score in the 2nd inning. The Rangers offense was hamstrung by their inability to drive in runs when they needed them the biggest chance having the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th with two outs but not scoring when Vladimir Guerrero struck out swinging to end the inning.

The teams will now go back to Tampa and Tropicana Field for the finale of their series on Tuesday evening. The Rays have the momentum; the Texas bench looked defeated on Sunday afternoon. However, the Rangers will start Cliff Lee who held the Rays to one hit and a run in 7 innings work against the Rays in Game one.  Lee will face David Price who gave up 4 earned runs including two home runs against the Rangers in game one.  Momentum goes to the Rays, but the pitching edge goes to the Rangers. This one is anybody’s series to lose. I picked the Rangers to win the series and still stand by that because of Cliff Lee.  We’ll see if I am right on Tuesday night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Yankees Sweep Twins while Rays Remain Alive

Still smiling, Mariano River and Yankees seal the deal again (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The ALDS series between the Yankees and Twins ended about as I expected it to end, another humiliating defeat for the Twins at the hands of the Yankees.  As I said on my prediction the “Twins cannot beat the Yankees with a stick.”  Once again that proved to be the case as the Twins lost their 12th straight playoff game.  They had an excellent record but did not do well at the end of the season and that carried into the ALDS. Once they lost a 4-0 lead with Francisco Lariano on the hill in game one the writing was on the wall as to how this series would end. The looks on the faces of the Twins players and Manager Ron Gardenhire showed it all and from that moment on they were toast. If one wants to beat the Yankees or for that matter any other good team one has to believe that they can win against them. The Twins unlike the lowly Orioles don’t believe they can beat the Yankees.  That is the difference, until the Twins start believing they can beat the Bronx Bombers they will be the perpetual victim in the ALDS or ALCS whenever they face them.   The Yankees won 6-1 on Saturday with Phil Hughes holding the Twins to just 4 hits in 7 innings work.  The Yankees hitters cranked out 12 hits to get the 6 runs including 2 home runs, one each by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

The Thrill of Victory (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Deep in the heart of Texas the Rays kept their hopes alive against the Rangers. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 7th on an Ian Kinsler home run. It seemed at that point that the momentum had shifted to the Rangers and their usually very effective bullpen. That did not happen, the usually strong bullpen surrendered 2 runs in the 8th and 3 more in the top of the 9th to give the Rays a 6-2 lead. The Rangers scored another run on a Nelson Cruz solo home run.  Rays starter Matt Garza was effective through 6 innings and relievers Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano limited the Rangers to just 1 hit and allowed no walks in the final three innings.

The Agony of Defeat (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees now get a few days off before they play the winner of the Rangers-Rays series. Today the Rangers and Rays play in the first of three Divisional Series games with Tommy Hunter (13-4 3.73 ERA) going up against Wade Davis (12-10 4.07 ERA).

More later,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Paybacks are Hell: Bulls Pound Tides 14-7, Orioles fall to A’s slip to 1 and 10

Troy Patton (0-2) got the Loss

On a warm spring evening in Durham the Durham Bulls bats repaid last Friday’s 12-6 drubbing by the Tides in spades scoring 14 runs on 20 hits and aided by 3 Tides errors.  It seems that the Tides pitchers are either very good or very bad on any given day.  They are either hot or cold and definitely not Lukewarm which at least is one positive as Jesus will not spew them out of his mouth see Revelation 3:16 but I theologically digress. The point is that Tides pitching is awesome or atrocious. Last night was a case in point.  Starter Troy Patton was pounded for six runs on six hits including home runs by Joe Dillon and Ryan Shealy and a walk in the bottom of the first retiring only one batter before being pulled for Armondo Gabino. Gabino settled things down giving up just one run on four hits in 3.2 innings work.  Patton has struggled in his first two starts and one hopes that working with pitching Coach Mike Griffin that he will be able to turn things around.

In the top of the third inning the Tides bats came to life as the Tides scored two runs. Robert Andino reached on an error by Bulls Third Baseman Angel Chavez and was driven in by Joey Gathright’s triple. Gathright would then score on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Salazar.  In the top of the fourth inning Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to eight games with a triple. Josh Bell drove in Hughes with a single to center and would score on a double to left by Robert Andino.  Catcher Steve Lerud doubled in Andino and the Tides were back in the game at 7-5.

In the bottom of the fifth however the Bulls would come back and score two more runs off of reliever Andy Mitchell who since his return to the team has not had the same effectiveness as he had in previous years when he served in the starting rotation. It is possible that the switch to middle relief has throw him out of his comfort zone but I think with a bit of time that he will adjust to that role and be an effective middle reliever.  Right now however Andy is struggling and being hit hard by his opponents.  After getting Dan Johnson to ground out Mitchell gave up back to back doubles to Ryan Shealy and Angel Chavez with Chavez’s hit bringing Shealy home.  Alvin Colina singled to send Chavez to third and Fernando Perez hit into a force out which brought in Chavez.  Mitchell then got out of the inning without further damage.  Rhyne Hughes led off the top of the sixth by reaching on an error by Angel Chavez. He advanced to second on a ground out to first by Josh bell and to third on Robert Andino’s infield single to second.  With runners at the corners Steve Lerud singled to right to drive in Hughes. Joey Gathright struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Bulls hit parade continued in the bottom of the sixth Mitchell struck out Hank Blalock.  The next batter Joe Dillon reached on a throwing error to first by first baseman Brandon Snyder.  Dan Johnson grounded out to Snyder on a play that should have without the error ended the inning to advance Dillon to second. Ryan Shealy singled to drive in Dillon and the score was now 10 to 1.  Mitchell walked Chavez and Colina to load the bases and with the walk to Colina was done.  Manager Gary Allenson brought in Jim Miller into the game with two outs in the inning.  Fernando Perez then bunted Shealy home before Miller retired Elliott Johnson on a grounder to short. The Tides went down in order to reliever Dale Thayer in the top of the seventh and as the Durham crowd stretched their Bulls were up 13-6 over the visiting Tides.

Durham was not done and struck hard again in the bottom of the seventh. Back to back singles by Justin Ruggiano set up Dan Johnson who homered to left over the Blue Monster. The three run shot was his 4th home run of the year. Miller retired the last two batters to end the inning.

Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to 8 games

The Tides went down in order in the top of the eighth and Miller retired the Bulls in the bottom half of the inning.  In the ninth the Bulls brought in Joaquin Benoit to close the game. The Tides attempted a ninth inning rally as Robert Andino hit his first home run in a Tides uniform but could muster nothing more to end the game.

Normally 7 runs would be enough to win a game if the pitching is good.  Last night that was not the case as each Tides pitcher except Gabino were hit hard by the Bulls’ attack. Bulls starter Virgil Vasquez got the win bring his record to 2-0 and Troy Patton dropped to 0-2 for the year.  The Tides had 7 runs on 9 hits in the loss but Durham was simply overpowering scoring 14 runs on 20 hits aided by 3 Tides errors.  Brandon Erbe (0-1) will start Saturday’s game for the Tides and the Bulls have not announced their starter at the time of this post.

On the west coast the Orioles lost their 9th straight game this time falling to the Athletics at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum by a score of 4-2.  Starter Kevin Millwood gave up all four Oakland runs giving up 9 hits in six innings.  On the bright side relievers Will Ohman and Matt Albers shut down the A’s allowing no runs or hits to finish the game. The O’s offense was anemic but Ty Wigginton homered in the fifth to produce both Orioles runs.  The O’s offense was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and have and last in the league scoring only 10 of 78 runners in scoring position for the season.

The Orioles are looking to end an eight game losing streak in Oakland in which they have been outscored by the A’s 43 to 17.  The losing streak extends back to July 22nd 2007. In today’s match up Jeremy Guthrie (0-2) will face A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer.

We’ll see what happens today for both the Tides and the Birds.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Fall to Durham 3-2 Split Series with Bulls

Troy Patton pitched well but not well enough getting the loss

The Norfolk Tides nearly pulled off a comeback but fell short on Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 4320 on a beautiful April day at Harbor Park. With the sun shining and a light breeze the conditions were ideal for a ball game.  Troy Patton faced Durham’s Virgil Vasquez in a pitching duel.  Patton pitched well giving up only 2 hits but gave up 3 walks which ultimately were decisive in the Bull’s win.

A beautiful day for a ball game

After a scoreless first inning Patton gave up a walk to Ryan Shealy to lead off the inning which was followed by what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right off the bat of Joe Dillon was dropped by right fielder Rhyne Hughes which advanced Shealy to third and allowed Dillon aboard.  Shealy scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Angel Chavez before Patton retired the side.  The Tides went down in order in the bottom half of the second and Patton returned the favor against the Bulls in the third.

The Tides had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third when Rhyne Hughes doubled to left with one out. Adam Donachie walked and the Tides had two on with only one out.  Joey Gathright grounded into a force out with Hughes being out at third. The inning ended on a force out on a ground ball by Robert Andino.

Scott Moore got his first and the Tides first home run of the season

In the fourth inning Patton shut down the Bulls despite allowing a double to Joe Dillon.  Scott Moore hammered a deep home run to right in the bottom of the fourth off Vasquez to tie the game.  Moor who was injured early in 2009 after a strong start appears to have  returned with a vengeance in 2010.

The fifth inning was Durham’s chance to give up what appeared to be an excellent scoring opportunity when Angel Chavez tripled to center when Joey Gathright attempted a diving catch on a dying line drive. The ball got by Gathright and rolled to deep center where Hughes recovered it and delivered it back to the infield.  Patton then bore down on the bulls, striking out Alvin Colina, got Elliott Johnson to fly out softly to shallow right and then to get Fernando Perez to ground out to third on a nice diving stop and throw by Josh Bell.  The Tides then squandered an opportunity in the bottom of the fifth when Michael Aubrey slammed a leadoff double off Vasquez but Hughes flied out while Donachie and Gathright both popped out to end the inning.

Frustration a swing and a miss by Robert Andino

Patton came back out in the top of the sixth but appeared to be tiring. After striking out Rashad Eldridge Patton walked Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Shealy.  Ross Wolf came in to relieve Patton and gave up a double to Joe Dillon which scored Ruggiano. With runners on second and third Chris Richard who had homered Saturday night off of Chris George was given an intentional pass to load the bases to set up the potential double play.  Angel Chavez then sacrificed to right scoring Shealy.  Wolf retired Alvin Colina on a fly to centerfielder Joey Gathright. In the bottom of the inning Scott Moore doubled with 2 outs which resulted in Vasquez being pulled for veteran reliever and former Texas Ranger Joaquin Benoit. Benoit who missed the entire 2009 season after having surgery on a torn rotator cuff was picked up by Tampa Bay in the off season.  Benoit struck out Tides clean up man Brandon Snyder to end the inning.

Wolf held the line in the top of the seventh allowing a two out single to Rashad Eldridge but no runs and Benoit shut down the Tides in order in the bottom half of the inning. Wolf sent the Bulls down in order in the eighth and Winston Abreu came into the game to send the Tides down in order in the bottom half of the inning.

Frank Mata who got the Tides first win of the season Friday came on for the Tides in the 9th getting Angel Chavez, Alvin Colina and Elliott Johnson all to ground out to shortstop Robert Andino.  The Tides finally got something going in the bottom of the ninth.  Lou Montanez and Scott Moore began the inning with consecutive singles.  Brandon Snyder grounded into a force out where Montanez was out at third. Still with runners on first and second the Tides still appeared to be rallying but Josh Bell also hit into a force and Snyder was out at second.  With runners on first and third Michael Aubrey collected his second hit of the day a single to center which scored Moore.  Rhyne Hughes walked and with the ides left 7 runners on base but had 10 in scoring position and only drove one in.  It was a bad day for Tides hitting in that they could not put hits together in key situations with runners in scoring position although they outhit the Bulls 7-4.  It was the walks as well as the error by Hughes that gave the Bulls the winning margin.

One Monday the Charlotte Knights, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox come into town for a three game series at Harbor Park.  Brandon Erbe will make his AAA debut for the Tides and Dan Hudson a Virginia Beach native who attended Princess Anne High School and Old Dominion University comes home to make his first appearance at Harbor Park.  The game begins at 7:15 the weather is expected to be clear but cool with temperatures in the high 60s at game time and falling off during the evening. See you there.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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