The Tampa Bay Rays start a different kind of streak in Cleveland

January 17, 2011
Tampa Bay Rays
by Leoraul

The night after they ended their 18 game losing streak in Cleveland, the Tampa Bay Rays felt entitled to take another one before they left town.  Justin Masterson vs. Wade Davis was the match-up.  The Tribe came out strong.  Mastterson cruised through the 1st, and the Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice by Carlos Santana.  However, similar to the night before, the Rays would answer quickly. 

Reed Brignac stepped up to the plate with two on, and 2 outs.  Masterson threw the one pitch he regrets and Brignac made him pay, hitting a 3-run homer.  The Indians showed some of their new-found resiliency, and got one of those runs back in their half of the inning, make it 3-2 Tampa.

Sanatan reaches 2nd in the bottom of the 3rd, but Matt LaPorta strikes out to end the inning.  LaPorta did not have his best day, at least offensively.

A leadoff walk to start to the 4th inning did not end up helping Masterson.  After a single past the outstretched arm of Nix put runners on 1st and 3rd, LaPorta made his one good play of the day.  For an inexperienced 1st baseman, Matt made a heads-up move when the ball was hit to him, looking the runner back at 3rd and still turning the double play.  At that point in the game that was a huge play, because the Rays didn’t end up scoring in the inning and the Tribe was still within one run.

Hafner stepped up to the plate in the 4th and crushed a nice double to the gap in left field, and Nix gets hit by a pitch vegas-style.. right in the kneecap.  After a textbook sacrifice by Trevor Crowe that moved Hafner and Nix to 2nd and 3rd respectively, Andy Marte couldn’t hold up on a check swing and strikes out.  Michael Brantley does what he usually does and makes another out, and we squandered one of our many chances to put some runs on the board.

Bartlett started things off for the Rays in the 5th by hitting a routine grounder to Marte who came up with an ugly error, allowing Bartlett to reach 1st safely.  That would come back to haunt us after he stole 2nd soon thereafter, and reached 3rd on a groundout.  Carl Crawford did what Marte should have done the inning before, and hits a ball deep to left that serves as a sacrifice to get Bartlett home, making it 4-2 Rays.  Epic fail by Andy on multiple fronts. 

The Indians went in order and then in the top of the 6th the Rays followed suit; Masterson started to work quickly and looked like he had settled down.  Yet again, Travis “Pronk” Hafner tried to keep us in the game by getting his 3rd straight hit, making him 3-3 on the day so far.  Other than Pronk, the Tribe’s bats were unusually quiet, and we headed to the 7th still down 2 runs.

Fast-forward to 2 down in the bottom of the 7th, where Brantley and Cabrera advanced to 2nd and 3rd after a Choo groundout.  After a questionable first pitch strike, Santana sent a rocket in between 1st and 2nd base but got robbed by Brignac.  6 outs left for the Tribe batsmen, and it’s still 4-2 Tampa. 

Tony Sipp picked off Evan Longoria (who has a pretty legit Mullet going) to end the top of the 8th, and we’re thinking it’s time to get at least one of those runs back.  Travis Hafner must have been seeing the ball well, because he hit his 4th hit of the game right after LaPorta predictably flied out.  Nix followed Travis by flying out as well, but Crowe got a 2-out hit up the middle of the infield to keep the inning alive.  Manny Acta decided to pinch-hit Shelley Duncan for Marte, good move.  Considering that Duncan has the highest batting average for pinch hitter appearances this season at a .417 clip, there was still some hope left at Progressive.

Unfortunately, Duncan popped up to right field, and it’s all but over.  Choo made it interesting by knocking a 2-out double in the bottom of the 9th, and yet again the game was up to the bat of Carlos Santana.  With one deceiving crack of the bat it looked like he maybe had tied it up, but his drive to center field was not deep enough.  The Indians left 8 runners stranded which would explain why we’re now on a 2-game losing streak.

The New York Yankees come to town tonight for a 4-game series; Westbrook will take on Javier Vasquez in the series opener.  The real story of this series is clearly Alex Rodriguez, who is sitting on 599 career home runs.  Alex suffered a hand injury last night after being hit by a pitch, and it’s unclear if he will even play tonight.  If he does, will A-Rod become only the 6th player ever to hit 600 home runs, and will he do it at Progressive Field?  Does it even matter, considering he’s a self-confessed steroid user?  Is Derek Jeter the single most overrated player in the League?  Likely.  Did I mention I hate the Yankees?

Benjamin Jackson

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