Monday, August 31, 2009

Hall of Fame Vote

Just in case anyone hasn't voted yet, today will be the last day... I will pick the winner by Thursday morning. Byleven still leads with 19, Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose are tied with 17 a piece while Bobbie Alomar and the Crime Dog each have 15 votes. Hawk Dawson and Barry Larkin each have a dozen votes and Tim Raines is the final player with double digit votes at ten. The Top Five will be inducted into the Blog-O-Sphere Hall of Fame, Class of 2009-1/2. You can vote on this thread for up to 5 players.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


For some reason I can't stop buying this product. I finally pulled an autograph, too. I jumped out of my skin when I saw that dark border in the pack. Sure enough, it wasn't just a regular old relic, but one of 239 cards that guitar prodigy YUTO MIYAZAWA signed for the set. I think he's like 9 or 10? I was really hoping for a Kershaw or at least Billy The Marlin... I'm told this sells on ebay. I am not a registered user so I can't check completed items. Is it? troll out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Disbelief...

I literally just walked in the door, I’ve been at work since 4 this afternoon and I work outdoors with no internet, TV or radio… My wife told me to check out the Rays website because she heard something about Kazmir being traded on the news. We both hoped it was a joke. If it is, it is a pretty widely reported joke. I stopped at my Post Office box on the way home tonight. It has been empty all week long, but I had 5 packages in there today. I said to myself “It’s a great day for trades”. I guess the Rays front office agreed. Fortunately when I trade, I receive equal (or sometimes better) value in return. One of the packages that I got today was from Thomas from Cardboard Singles. He is a Los Angeles Angels fan and we agreed to trade each other team for team. I will post the rest of the cards he sent later, tonight I will focus on the Kazmirs. As an Angels fan, I wonder if he regrets getting rid of all his Kaz cards? I wonder a lot of things right. Why the Rays front office has given up? Why I don’t even care that the Tigers beat the Rays tonight? Why the team’s top starter since 2004 is no longer on the team? I have a lot of memories of Kaz that relate to a lot of things. Taking my cousin Jon and his wife to a Rays game while they were in town visiting-it was her first game ever and Kaz struck out 14 that night. Goofing around with him while he was on his minor league rehab assignments that last game I watched on TV where he held the Blue Jays to one run over 6 innings while striking out 10 batters. I am pretty bummed. I will probably go drink a lot and talk some baseball with the wife. Thanks for the trade Tom! It’s just kinda hard to be excited about these cards right now. If I seem over dramatic, that’s just how I am. This team means a lot to me, but the individual players that form that team mean even more.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nick Green-Boston's New Closer?

My day was totally interrupted by a car crash in my front yard which eliminated my power for a while… I would write about that (and I will) but duty calls and I have to leave for work soon. I had a couple of posts planned for today. Friday is my ideal day to write like crazy, but no power meant no computer access (duh), so therefore no lengthy posts. I do promise to write about the Roller Derby bout this weekend, my horrible week, school and my run-in with the police relating to the aforementioned car crash...
Anyway, for now I just wanted to give some love to Boston’s newest closer Nick Green. Lil Nicky played for the Rays in 2005 and 2006, but the Rays used him as an infielder for some reason. In fact of the 5 different teams that he has player for over the past 5 season, he didn’t log a single inning on the mound until last night. He did allow 3 walks, but over 2 innings of work isn’t bad (JP Howell, Kevin Gregg) by MLB closer standards. He hit 90 MPH on the radar gun, used a slider and made a really nice play off the mound. He faced all 9 batters in the Chicago White Sox line-up without allowing a hit. He retired Jim Thome on a 4-3 groundout. My question is: With a hard throwing righty like Nick Green already under contract, why go after Billy Wagner?
Green’s most productive year as a player came with the Devil Rays in 2005 when he played in 111 games at second and third base, shortstop, designated hitter and right and left field. He batted .239 with 5 homers and 29 runs batted in. Career wise he is a .238 hitter with 16 homers and 93 RBI and a 0.00 ERA. The card is a 2006 Topps, card number 428. It is my most recent D-Rays TTM auto. It is not too late to vote for the Hall of Fame and enter the accompanying contest. Go Rays! Troll out.

Dontrelle, It Was a Good Day...

I am now a former collector of Tigers inactive pitcher Dontrelle Willis. It was a good run for me and the D-Train… I decided to collect him after a horrible rain soaked night at work on Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon (in the midst of a horrible day) I sorted through all of cards and dug out 3 Willis cards. While on my tour of the card shops of the West Coast of Florida (in search of Kershaw auto or a black bordered mini of that guy with the beard) I picked up a pretty sweet Fleer mini of D-Money in a Marlins uni. I carefully put all 5 of the cards in my collection into penny sleeves and top-loaders and made it official by throwing up a post saying that Willis would be part of my player collection. I did some research on him and on anxiety disorders. I learned that his mother, like me, was a welder and I found some video of his days of dominance with the Fish. Then, later on in that miserable night (full story to come) I got a comment from Wicked Ortega that he was the official super collector of young Mr. Willis and that the blog-o-sphere wasn’t big enough for two of us. I was put off a little bit at first, but after I read some of the old posts on his blog I realized that he was a serious Dontrelle Willis fan. He had followed the guy through thick and thin, his collection was over 400 cards already and he planned to have 3000 cards in his collection by the end of the year. This dude seriously had me beat commitment wise. I had planned to have a jersey card of him as a Marlin and a Tiger and get an autograph. I have decided to concede my entire 5 card collection of Mr. Willis to Mr. Wicked Ortega and officially withdraw my claim to any Willis cards at present or in the future. I would like to thank my wife, Esther Gin N Juice for her support through this day of player collecting and most of all I would like to thank all of you in the blog-o-sphere who graciously offered me your D-Train cards. I will however have to decline those offers as I am officially no longer a collector of Dontrelle Willis cards. Mr. Ortega, please send me your address and these 5 beauties are all yours! Best of luck in your collecting and best of luck to you Dontrelle Willis, I am still in your corner!!! Readers of this blog: This will be the final appearance for any and all of these fine cardboard examples of this fine young pitcher. Go Rays! Troll out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rock The Vote!

Well, I have had a pretty busy day, I've got a ton on my mind-expect a veeerrryyy long non-baseball related post tomorrow. School has started and this is my first moment in front of the computer all day and I won't have time for a real post because I have to be in work in twenty minutes. I went through and updated my needs list for 2009 Heritage and I am not nearly as close as I thought. Please check out my want lists pages and help a brother out!
I finally had something in my mailbox today-21 cards closer to my 1978 Topps set, thank you Christian in Phoenix! Please, please vote for the Hall of Fame contest. Bert Blyleven is running away with the lead, but the other 4 slots are pretty close. There are 3 days left to vote, please vote. You can do so on this post or this one-
If you haven't linked the contest yet, you still can and it will still give you a bonus entry. I still can't believe how the Rays blew the game last night in Toronto-a walk-off wild pitch, REALLY?
Go Rays! troll out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Presidents Out, Dontrelle In!

So Ted Kennedy has passed away. I was looking for a card of him to post up as a tribute, much like dayf had done earlier (I steal all of my ideas from him!), but I couldn’t find a card or even a picture. What I did find was a whole bunch of random cards of politicians amidst my doubles and trade bait cards. I really don’t like the politician card thing. I didn’t like when Topps put George Bush in the stands at Yankee Stadium and I hate pulling cards of Presidents or hopefuls or First Ladies or First Dogs or whatever. Is Topps the only company that does this? Anyway, it’s high time these Washingtonians disappear from my box o cards. I am sure that someone needs these to finish up a set. Please give these cardboard presidents a good home! I have, from the 2008 Topps First Couple series, card FC-10 of the Tylers and FC-30 of the Roosevelt’s. From the ’08 Topps Campaign 2008: CO8-BR Bill Richardson, CO8-FT Fred Thompson and CO8-RP Ron Paul. From the 2008 Goudey I have card no. 247 of Rutherford B. Hayes. Also, from the 2007 Topps Distinguished Service I have President Harry Truman, card #DS9. There are a few non-presidents that are in that set, too, if anyone wants them. They are DS10, 17, 27 and 30. I would prefer to send them all out in one great big politician package, but if you need just one, let me know. You can e-mail me through bacontowne at yahooooo dot com.
Okay, well, assuming that I will find a home for those guys, I am offering a home for someone else. I guess you could say “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, but it’s more like “if you can’t trade him, collect him!” I have been trying to pawn my Dontrelle Willis Allen & Ginter relic off to someone for a while now with no takers. I’ve decided that I feel bad for the guy. I’ve never offered a card up and not got at least one e-mail of interest. I am going to make a bold statement, but I don’t think its too far off-Dontrelle is officially the most unwanted player to be pulled in 2009 packs! Am I wrong? If no one else wants Dontrelle, well I give up. I do. I am officially declaring myself a Dontrelle Willis player collector! I don’t care that he’s 1-6 over the past two years in Detroit. I don’t care that his anxiety disorder may not allow him to pitch again. I don’t care that his cards are worthless. I want them! I am officially opening up a privately funded shelter for cards of the D-Train. Send me your tired, your unwanted, your whatever Dontrelle cards. It wasn’t too long ago that this guy was awesome. Does anyone remember him hitting 3 freaking triples in 2007 with the Fish? That was great! So was winning 22 games for them in 2005. He won the Rookie of the Year Award and a World Series Ring in 2003. He deserves to have someone collect his cards. If Andy Ashby can get a vote for the Hall of Fame, I can collect a washed up pitcher from Detroit! I will actually be adding a total of five non-Rays players to my player collector list. Dontrelle will be first, his team mate and former Rays hurler Edwin Jackson will be 2nd. Another former Ray and all around awesome athlete and current Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes will be the third. The last two slots are open and I am open for suggestion. Some of the considered nominees are Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Roberts, Rick Porcello, Justin Upton and Brandon Inge. I'm pretty sure of them are already heavily pursued around here. I don't want any more cyber fist fights over cards! Happy Wednesday everyone! Go Rays! RIP Teddy K! If you haven't voted for the Hall of Fame contest, PLEASE do so soon. troll out.

The Vote for the Hall of Fame!

Not a single vote for Joe Torre, only 1 vote for Donnie Baseball. Only one former Negro League player has been brought up. Two votes for Mike Jackson (62-67 career), a vote for Dave Burba (115-87)? Those are only some of the surprises so far in this early 2010 Hall of Fame vote. The contest has 5 more days for people to enter and hopefully we will receive many more votes. Here is how voting is shaping up so far and who will go to the Hall if voting were to cease today. The Top 5 so far are:
1. Bert Blyleven (16)
2. Shoeless Joe Jackson (15)
3. Fred McGriff (14)
3. Pete Rose (14)
5. Barry Larkin (11)
Hot on their spikes are Roberto Alomar (10) and the trio of Andre “Hawk” Dawson, JJ “Buck” O’Neill and Tim “Rock” Raines all with 8 votes each. Rounding out the top ten are Gil Hodges, Ron Santo and Dale Murphy-each with 4 votes. Closer Lee Smith has 3.
Allen Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Harold Baines, Minnie Minoso and Mike Jackson each have 2 votes a piece. There are 13 others who have at least one man or woman in their corners for blogosphere immortality consideration, they are: Jim Kaat, Robin Ventura, Artie Wilson, Maury Wills, Mark McGwire, Ellis Burks, Charlie Hough, Will Clark, Andres Galaragga, Bowie Kuhn, Andy Ashby, Vern Stephens and Dave Burba.
One can make a solid case for at least ¾ of the players mentioned. Everyone is so very thoughtful, very knowledgeable, very informed and very creative. There were a few names that I hadn’t thought of myself, but they definitely have a case. Makes me proud to be a blogger! Now we just need to push for more votes. 18 hardly seem like enough votes to put someone in the Hall of Fame (even if it isn’t real)! Please encourage folks to vote. I’ve decided that people CAN vote even if they don’t follow this blog (but they can’t win) and if you aren’t voting because you don’t want to be overloaded with a bunch of cards you don’t want-vote anyway and specify that you don’t want to be entered to win. I would really like to get 50 people to vote for this thing. You can vote on this comment thread now, I have archived the votes from the other one. I will repeat my first entry as a sample (but my dupe vote will not count). Also, the cards shown in this post (of potential HOFers) will be added to the prize pack. The prize is now guaranteed to have at least 40 cards, plus 3 HOF autographs and at least one bonus auto, plus magazines, postcards and other HOF related stuff. Please vote for the next 5 guys to head to (internet) Cooperstown! Link this post to your blog and you will get a bonus entry, too. Go Rays! Rock the vote baby! Troll out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Who's Down With OPC?

Yeah you know me! I am making a big effort to downsize and get rid of any random cards from sets that I am not collecting. I have been able to pull of trades this week to liquidate my extra 2009 Topps and Upper Deck, now I am looking at the leftover O Pee Chees. I have traded all of the inserts and a few team sets, but I am still left with 59 base cards and 15 different black borders. Of those, 4 out of the 15 (.267) are members of the Detroit Tigers, go figure… Anyway, I am going to list all of the black cards that I have. These are dying to find a good home! 2 Jim Thome, 17 Cody Ross, 49 Jeremy Guthrie, 92 Brandon Inge, 178 Placido Polanco (mini), 216 Mark Teahen, 244 Todd Helton, 309 Josh Willingham, 319 Rowland-Smith, 345 Bobby Jenks, 413 Marcus Thames, 488 Armando Galarraga, 518 Nationals Team Checklist, 579 David Freese and 596 Dexter Fowler. Any takers? By the by, the Rays beat Roy Halladay AGAIN! Pena tagged his league leading 35th and Zobrist added one of his own. It wasn't pretty (giving up a grand slam and all) but Jeff Niemann leads all rookies once again with 12 wins. Go Rays! Troll out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get Your Ginter Want Lists Ready!!!

Well, that last post worked. I didn't trade any of the cards that I listed, but I did trade a bunch of the base cards that I had not listed. After a 100+ card deal with Jimmy in Galveston, I am left with 98 dupes left and I took the time to type them up. Get your lists ready, this is what I have left for the regular set:
3,4(2),6(2),10,13,14,15,16,17,31,33(2),41,49,52,55,65,68,70,71,73(2),76,77,79,81,84,89,93,97,98(2),100,101,106(2),109,116,118(2),122,127(2),141(2),142,144,145(2),147,150,151,153,154,155,156(2)160,163,166(2),177,186,189,199,200(2),209,213,216,228,239,244,247,248,252(2),257,258,269,271(2),274,278,279,285,293,297,299,313,322,329,331,333,336,337 and 338. Thanks to Jason who offered up a handful of cards from my list, I am now within 18 cards of finishing this damn thing. E-mail me if you can use any of these. Cheers! Go Rays! troll out.

Ginter Available For Trade

Hola bloggers! Just in case there is anyone else out there still battling with the A&G, I thought I would post some of my dupes. Here is what I have. E-mail me at bacontowne at yahoooo dot com to work out a deal.
National Pride cards available for trade: All Card #s begin with NP NP2 Justin Upton, 7 Chipper, 10 Jose Reyes, 12 Prince, 13 Morneau, 14 K-Rod, 15 Jorge Posada (3), 16 Jake Peavy (2),17 King Felix (2), 18 Robinson Cano (2), 19 Erik Bedard (2), 20 Akinori Iwamura, 21 Scott Hairston, 22 David Wright, 42 Edgar Renteria, 43 Jose Lopez, 44 Betancourt, 50 Jair Jurrjens, 62 Ryan Braun, 63 Carlos Beltran, 66 Joba, 67 Adrian Gonzalez, 69 Ryan Rowland Smith, 70 Carlos Pena, 71 Josh Hamilton, 72 Edgar Gonzalez and 73 Carlos Lee.
I also have a few code cards up for grabs, too. They are: 129 Brian Giles (2), 134 Jered Weaver, 182 Jose Reyes and 223 Scott Rolen. I am not collecting these.
I am six cards away from completing the Baseball Highlights Sketch Cards, all card #s begin with AGHS. I have two cards available for trade, they are: 7 Manny Ramirez and 11 Francisco Rodriguez.
I am not collecting minis and these seem to go (get claimed) as soon as I pull them. Here is what I have for now: 24 Steve Wiebe, 76 Brandon Phillips, 83 Beethoven (2), 147 Coco Crisp, 322 Chris Volstad and 348 Justin Masterson. All of these minis are regular backs. As far as regular cards, I have a ton. I am thinking about putting together a second set. I have 21 short prints and around 200 base cards. Please e-mail me with your needs. As it turns out, the two relics cards that I pulled this year are still unaccounted for. Dontrelle Willis’ pants and Magglio Ordonez’ jersey cards are still on the trading block. Want em? I still need a few cards to finish the sets myself. The list is
Any help will be greatly appreciated.

The Ultimate Compliment

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a total homer for the Tampa Bay Rays. I love the team, I’ve been attending about 50 games a year since ’98 and win or lose, I always find a positive about the game. I have got a few e-mails this year (since I have started this blog) from members of the Rays organization, a few people have told me that players read it in the clubhouse sometimes (probably to make fun of me) and that is really cool. Today I got a note in the mail from former Devil Rays third basemen and current Manager of the Princeton Rays, Jared Sandberg. Their PR contact told me that Jared read the blog, but I was really surprised to get this note from Mr. Sandberg himself. If you can't read his handwriting, it says "Marck-Thanks for your support! Keep cheering as loud as you can, the Rays need help drowning out the Red Sox Nation and crazy Yankee fans!" Thanks Jared, I will keep on cheering. Go Rays! Troll out!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't Forget To Enter The Contest...

Leaving for derby, wish us luck!
Don't forget to enter this baby, follow the rules in the post:
Go Rays! Go Bombshells! Troll out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rays Win in 10

This will be the shortest game summary I ever write… On the day that his friend from college succumbed to cancer, Carlos Pena dedicated the game to him and he came through big time. Matt Garza was sharp, pitched 7 innings, giving up 3 runs. Another solid start and another no decision. His record sits at 7-8 with a 3.74 ERA. He is 10th in the AL with 137 Ks. JP Howell blew his 6th save when he served up a solo homer to Marlon Byrd with two outs in the 9th inning. Grant Balfour added a scoreless inning in the tenth and snagged the victory and Carlos Pena provided the heroics. He already had two homeruns on the day when he came up in the bottom of the tenth and delivered a walk-off single to score Evan Longoria. He finished the day with 4 RBI to bring his total to 84 to go along with 34 homeruns. It was a fitting tribute to a good friend who left this world way too soon. Rays win in 10!

Swapper Ginters (and Rays) With McCann Can Triple

Tomorrow is all about Roller Derby, the Bombshells are entertaining the Gainesville Roller Rebels in what was supposed to be the final bout of the season, but popular demand has extended it by a couple of games… Glyph (G-ville announcer) will come down and help me with the call of the bout. Today, Bombshell superstar and super-wife, Ms. Esther Gin N Juice is out at the annual Women’s Equity Celebration conference and luncheon. After that she will take her girl power to the Honda dealership to try and work out a cash for clunkers deal for Blanca before the program ends. That said, I am home alone and therefore have been posting like crazy. I had to give Kazmir some positive words after a great night on the mound yesterday and I have a ton of trades to catch up on.
My subject for now will be Sarah AKA McCann Can Triple at the Rookie (baseball) Card Collector blog. She had ripped a fair amount of Ginter before giving up on it. I had pulled a triple swatch card of Brian McCann and we worked out a deal. She was worried because she hadn’t done any big trades yet. If I could offer some advice-pack the individual cards a little better. Put penny sleeves on the first and last cards and put them in team set bags. A few of the cards ended up with pretty rounded corners, but since I never plan on selling my Rays cards or my Ginter set, it’s not that big a deal… On to the cards…
There was good number of National Prides, SPs and singles in there. I didn’t get a count, but I think she helped with about 50 cards including Samuel Morse, tap, tap, tap. Number 252 of Lastings Milledge is also included. He is wearing a Nats uniform, but was traded to the Pirates for Nyjer Morgan in June. Milledge is wearing number 85 (for his year of birth) and is the only big leaguer that I can recall to wear that number. In 1997 Milledge (who is from Bradenton where I live) led the Manatee East All Stars to the Little League World Series. I interviewed him back then (he was 11) and it was an unusual experience trying to do a serious interview with someone so young. When he was 16 Baseball America named him the best 16 year old prospect in the country and the Mets drafted him with the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft. Since then he has been riddled with injuries and hasn’t come close to meeting expectations, but the dude CAN HIT. Card #250 shows last remaining Indian Grady Sizemore in a bear skin rug pose. Next is card 213 of Olympic discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trifton. She won Gold for the US in Beijing and she is 6 foot freaking 4! I wonder if she plays derby…Card #18 is of Clyde Parris who played Negro League ball starting in 1946, in the pic he is shown wearing a Cerveza Balboa jersey-I would play for that team! The last Ginter I will show is card 25 of everyone’s favorite third baseman Evan Longoria. She sent me quite a few Longos, thanks! A lot of people don’t wanna give up Longo or Price cards which can sometimes make being a team collector difficult. Longo squinting, like he is trying hard to read the bottom line on the eye exam chart or maybe trying to focus on his own Allen and Ginter want list, who knows. On to the rest of the cards… Last week I posted a trade from the Night Owl (hoo) sent over some OPC cards that I needed for the Rays team set. I put a list of what I still needed and Sarah knocked it down by two cards with these two Gabes. Gross with a black border and Kapler in white. A few months ago someone had sent me some of the black 2009 Topps cards from Wal Mart and I loved them. I haven’t seen any since, until today. I now own 22 Longo/Price, 204 Andy Sonnanstine and 296 of high flying Reid Brignac. She left a note that she was sorry that she didn’t have too many Bartletts or Crawfords, but she did score big with this 2008 Upper Deck Jason Bartlett numbered 666 which is new to me. She scored with a Joe Maddon card that I somehow didn’t have yet (I really thought I had the market cornered on ’07 Topps) of him trotting on field and not in very good focus. She also hooked up some older cards and ex-Rays, too. Dewon Brazleton was a favorite of mine, still is actually. He was the Devil Rays opening day starter in 2005 and he took a no-hitter further into a game than any Tampa Bay pitcher in their history. You can find him pitching for the Atlantic League’s Camden Riversharks. I really like the Topps 50th Anniversary All Rookie Team cards, I just have had bad luck pulling anyone good, but Sarah helped me with card AR82 of current Red Sox outfielder Rocco Baldelli. I will close this trade post out with the oldest card in the package, a 2002 Donruss (card 104) of former slugger Greg Vaughn. GV hit 50 homers for the Reds in 1999 and had over 350 for his career which included 3 seasons with Tampa Bay. Last year was his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility and he fell off the ballot. He was one of 3 players to not receive a single vote from the writers, the others being Ron Gant and Dan Pleasac. His cousin Mo Vaughn received 6 votes. That is the trade; I am a whole lot closer to filling up my binder of Allen and Ginter thanks to Sarah. Go check out her blog and help her out. I think she is working on Upper Deck X and she will gladly give homes to your Chipper and McCann cards. The Rays are locked up in a 3 run tie game with the Rangers. I am at home, watching on TV because I am tapped out in the cash flow department. Don’t forget to enter the HOF contest and check out my want list pages which are all updated. Go Rays! Keep on trading with me! Go Bombshells! Troll out.

Scott Kazmir Is Back!

The Rays are 24-1 with me in the seats this year and they have won the last 5 games that I have watched. I had to work late on Thursday and didn’t catch a single pitch so the game shouldn’t even count. While I was at work yesterday afternoon I started writing a post about bad trades the Rays had made this offseason. They shipped away Jason Hammel (2006 Upper Deck card #957-courtesy of Texas Brian) to the Rockies and he is now 8-7 for the Rockies after tossing a 3-hitter over 7 innings against the Nats and now he is playoff bound. They also shipped away my favorite starter Edwin Jackson Jr. (2009 Topps Heritage card # -my most recent TTM success!) to the American League Central leading Detroit Tigers and he is their number 2 starter and key reason they are leading the Sox in their Division. Edwin Jackson had by far the best fastball on the Rays staff; he’s hit 100 MPH on the gun. He worked in relief in the Playoffs last year and had success, but he was also the Rays best regular season starting, setting a franchise mark for wins with 14. For whatever reason, the powers that be decided it would be smart to trade him away for a minor league outfielder. Now, he’s 10-5 with a 2.86 ERA (4th in the AL) and has 128 strikeouts AND was an All Star. Great trade guys.
Anyway, I am not gonna cry (too much) over spilled milk. We lost those guys, Garza and Shields can’t buy a win, Sonnanstine is struggling in AAA and Scott Kazmir has been battling injuries and arm problems all year. Other than the HUGE surprise that is Jeff Niemann, the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year with 11 wins so far, the Rays staff hasn’t had too much to be happy about.
Back to Kaz… his ERA has been well over 6 since before he shut down to deal with a quadriceps strain a few months back. He has traditionally been the Rays Ace, but got bumped by James Shields as the Rays opening day starter. He didn’t get off to an awful start (3-2/5.40 ERA) in April, but he was 1-2 with a 10.89 ERA in the month of May before he went on the DL. He missed June and was still shaky in July, but is 3-1 in the month of August so far. After Shields let the Orioles walk all over him (and the bullpen) on Thursday night, the Rays had fallen to 4 games out of the Wildcard race. They needed a stop, they needed a hero, they needed the Scott Kazmir of old (like this 2007 Upper Deck series 2 Game Materials card, also sent by Texas Brian) and they got him.
The Rays drew first blood in the first. Jason Bartlett singled to lead off the game, stole second (23rd) and took third base on a wild throw. He scored on a Carl Crawford groundout and the Rays were on the board. They took a similar method in the second inning. Dustin Nippert, the young lanky righty on the mound for Texas, attempted (poorly) a pickoff of Gabe Gross off of first base. He made it all the way to 3rd base while the Rangers tried to find the ball. Jason Bartlett bunted him home (attempted play at the plate, FC) and the Rays were up 2-0 on a couple of singles.
Scott Kazmir is from Texas (Houston actually), he has Texas tags on his Escalade and he has taken pride in absolutely owning the Rangers in the past. Coming into this year he had a career mark of 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in 7 starts against the Rangers. In fact, tonight was Scott’s longest outing (and best performance) since June 6, 2008 (Kaz’ father’s birthday!) when he struck out 6 and beat the Rangers 12-4 in Arlington with most of the Kazmir family in the stands.
Kazmir had a one-hit shutout working in the 5th inning; coming into the 8th he had a three-hitter. He had 4 innings where he needed less than 10 pitches to retire the side including a 5-pitch 7th inning, but back to the Rays offense…
They had been quiet until the fifth inning when Evan Longoria came up with 2 outs and no one on. He smoked a grounder past (through) Elvis Andrus for a single to bring up Ben Zobrist. Zobs had 17 homers before the All Star break, then his power seemed to drift off till this week. Batting left-handed, he inside-outed (is that a word?) a low and inside curveball and sent it to the left field stands for his 22nd homer, (3rd in 3 games) a two-run blast. On Sportscenter, following the game, Linda Cohn called it a “Zo-blast!” but in Tampa Bay we call him Zorilla! Not to be outdone, Carlos Pena made it two homers in a row, pulling a fastball into the right field stands for an opposite field homerun and extending his American League leading homerun total to 32 and giving the Rays a 5-0 lead. Bring on designated hitter Pat Burrell who had 2 strikeouts in his two prior at-bats. Dustin Nippert remained in the game, despite just allowing two monster homeruns, but Pat Burrell couldn’t hop on the homerun train-he popped out to end the inning. Scott Kazmir rolled along and carried that 5-0 lead into the 8th inning. Taylor Teagarden, the Rangers young catcher (.199/6/21) led off the 8th against Kaz and greeted him with a solo home run to spoil the shutout. Kaz got through Andrus before allowing a walk to Kinsler and another single to Mike Young. Young had 3 of the Rangers five hits against Kaz. The lefties pitch count had passed 100 and with 2 runners on and 1 out, Joe Maddon decided that Kaz was done, even though he hit 95 MPH on the radar gun in the 8th for the first time this year! Kaz left with a 5-1 lead, allowing just 5 hits and striking out 4 in his longest outing of the year. He left the field to a 20,000 fan standing ovation and tipped his hat on the way to the dugout. Grant Balfour (another recent TTM success!) got the call with 2 inherited runners on base and 1 out. Young and Kinsler successfully pulled off the double steal to place runners at 2nd and 3rd for Marlon Byrd (0-3 against Kaz). Balfour delivered a high, inside heater and shattered Byrd’s bat, but he sprayed a single to left field to plate Kinsler. Andruw Jones was up next and he hit a grounder to Longoria (who should have thrown home) who got Byrd at second for a fielder’s choice, scoring Young. Two batters, one out and both of the runner’s Kaz was responsible for scored bringing his ERA back up over 6 in the process. The young and speedy Julio Borbon came into run for the not very speedy Jones at first. Everyone in the Trop knew he was going to try to steal and he did, but with no success this time. He had stolen 8 straight bases since being called up, but Greg Zaun and Jason Bartlett ended that streak and that ended the inning. Balfour was credited with this 14th hold of the year for that, which I didn’t think was too far. He got one guy out, let two runners score and gets credit for a scoreless inning and a hold?
CJ Wilson started the bottom of the 8th for Texas. This lefty throws the heat! Zobrist turned around and stood in as a righty and drew a lead-off walk. Pena grounded out, but moved Zobs up which caused Wilson to walk Burrell intentionally (so this is what 1st base looks like) to bring up Greg Zaun who popped out. Gabe Kapler (.239/4/24) pinch hit for the left handed hitting Gabe Gross with men on first and second. Wilson hit his toe with a pitch, but he wasn’t awarded the base. It didn’t matter because Wilson walked him anyway loading the bases for BJ Upton. It was Bossman Junior’s 25th birthday last night and a grand slam would have been a nice gift. BJ is a career .304 hitter with the bases loaded, but has never hit a homerun. The side-armer Darren O’Day (2-1/1.98 ERA) came in to face Upton and got him swinging on a high fastball to end the inning with no score. Going into the top of the 9th, the Rays still lead 5-3. JP Howell came on for the 57th time this year. He got through Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz to bring up Hank Blalock as the Rangers final hope. Blalock drew a walk on four pitches (I think this is his 2nd walk since the break) and Taylor Teagarden came up. He had homered his last time up and could tie the game with one now. He didn’t. A swing and a miss on a 2-2 curve ball in the dirt and the game was over. Rays win, Rays win!!! This improved their record to 66-55 and since the Yankees were able to score 3 touchdowns in their win against the Sox, the Rays were back to being 3 games out of the wildcard. In Florida related wildcard news…Annibel Sanchez had a great night and the Florida Marlins are also 3 games out of the NL wildcard. In totally unrelated news… Billy Wagner, who has been on the DL for the Mets all year long, finally comes off of it, has his velocity back and pitches a scoreless inning in his 2009 debut AND the Mets put him on waivers and the Red Sox claim him. Bye bye Big Apple for Billy. It’s up to Matt Garza to keep the Rays rolling tonight and the game is about to start! The Bradentucky Bombshells are taking on the Gainesville Roller Rebels tomorrow afternoon. Go Bombshells! Go Rays! Troll out.