Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rays exact sweet revenge in the snowy Bronx

Small Markets 7, Evil Empire 6

What kind of moron schedules baseball games in early April in places like Detroit, Chicago and New York?

Oh yeah, Bud Selig.
Bad enough that the game between the White Sox and Indians was played on a 35 degree, cloudy day with the wind gusting up to 25 mph. Worse was the contest between the Tigers and Blue Jays had to be postponed due to similarly nasty conditions in Detroit. But the worst of all may have come in the Bronx, where yesterday's game had to be postponed due to monsoon-like conditions, and last night, where it started off just cold but by the later innings it got downright antarctic on their asses.

Amid snow flurries reminiscent of early December rather than tax time and wearing ski masks resembling something out of a bank tellers nightmares, the penny-pinching Devil Rays pulled off yet another improbable win over their free-spending AL East counterparts, the Stankees. At first the scrappy young D-Rays appeared to be following a sickly similar pattern for the first seven innings- take the lead (2-1), give the lead back (4-2), regain the lead (6-4), lose it again (6-6)- the only thing missing was the inevitable bullpen collapse leading to another crushing, late-inning loss.

But a funny thing happened after the Rays retook the lead, 7-6, in the 8th: they held onto it.

Yes, you read that correctly folks, the Rays pen held onto a 1-run lead in Stankee Stadium thanks to relievers Ruddy Lugo, who despite allowing the Stanks to tie it at 6 in the 7th got Georgie Posada to ground out with the go-ahead run on 2nd, and Brian Stokes, who first loaded the bases in the 8th and then got Jeter, Abreu & ERod on infield outs to preserve the win. Tack on a perfect 9th for new closer Al Reyes and the Rays had themselves a solid victory in the second game of the season.

These feel-good Rays are riding a high right now that may not be topped; they're .500 (1-1) for probably one of the final times this season; their home opener tonight (of which I will be attending) is sold out for only the second time in the club's 10-year history; and the promising young kids that form the core of this team kids continue to produce at the major league level:

-Elijah Dukes hit his second major league homerun in his second major league game

- BJ Upton had two more hits and is batting .500 (4-8)

-Japanese 3rd baseman Aki Iwamura, who had a miserable spring, smacked two hits including his first ML double and is batting .429

-Carl Crawford had 2 hits, a walk an RBI and a run and raised his average to .500 (4-8)

Although guys like Delmon Young (.222) and Ben Zobrist (.111) have yet to produce, let's not forget they've only played 2 games and one was in the friggin' snow!

So they Rays will take the good vibes of playing the Stanks tough in two consecutive games into tonight's sold out home opener at the Trop. With $8 million worth of improvements to the sterile dome and a full house on hand to watch these exciting baby Rays in action it ought to be a good time at the ball-dome tonight.

At least it won't be snowing!
Full report, plus pix, tomorrow.
P.S. Meliss, nice weather up there; I hope it's not snowing when we come up for your wedding in June!

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