Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Rays have battle, more bad luck

Seattle Mariners 6 - Tampa Bay Rays 5

Not quite the home opener that the new, improved Rays had been after, methinks. I watched the first 5 innings last night, before tiredness and the thought of getting up for work got the better of me, and while it was an enjoyable game, it was also one of those where you have the feeling that its just not going to be your night.

The bad news first is that Matt Garza had to be taken out in the third with a sore arm, and has been put on the 15-day disabled list. Which is not good. Jae-kuk Ryu has been called up from Durham, but won't be taking Garza's place in the rotation - that is likely to go to either JP Howell or possibly Jeff Niemann. I'm hoping that we finally get the chance to have a look at Niemann.

Good news was the excellent, battling display of hitting off of Eric Bedard. Shawn Riggans homered in the second (his first ever in the big leagues), and Carlos Pena followed in the third. It was the fifth however that showed the all-round game that we need to see this year. Carl Crawford and Pena had excellent at-bats, fighting off pitches really well, which is still all too rare a sight for the Rays. BJ Upton worked a nice walk, and then he and Jonny Gomes showed some great hustle to force an error on a broken bat grounder to short. That set up a play that I just love to see. Jonny took off for second, and had the bag stolen easily. Johjima rushed a throw across to second anyway, and BJ took off from third, stealing home unchallenged. I don't care how its done, there is just something so satisfying about a steal of home. We actually scored 2 runs in the fifth without getting a hit, which is always a nice trick to turn.

That was that though for the hitters, and the Mariners re-took the lead for good in the sixth. The bullpen did a nice job all-in-all though, Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler in particular. Very encouraging sign - Scott Dohmann and Wheeler inherited 3 and 2 baserunners respectively when they came in, and let none of them score.

Meanwhile Kaz threw a bullpen session, and reported feeling good afterwards. Here's hoping he's back soon. Andy Sonnanstine makes his second start of the year tonight, and will be hoping to carry on where he left off in the last few innings of his first start.

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