Friday, April 10, 2009

O's-Rays, 2-1 Lead In The Opening Innings

Coming off a depressing loss at the hands of the Yankees, it's important not to forget that the O's actually took the series - and winning two out of every three games for even a month would be a huge surprise for this team. Another AL East rival, the Tampa Bay Rays, comes to tow fresh off of winning two out of three themselves against Evil Empire II up in Boston. The good news is that the O's start out facing the bottom of the Rays' rotation. The bad news is that the bottom of the Rays' rotation is probably about as good as the top of the O's rotation, and the Birds are countering with Mark Hendrickson (a former Devil Ray).

Top 1:
  • Jason Bartlett, batting lead-off, grounds out to Melvin Mora at third.
  • Carl Crawford doubles down the right-field line. Too bad for the Rays he tried for a triple. The relay from Markakis to Roberts to Mora was near perfect and they get Crawford easily. Nice play, though Mora did get spiked a little during the slide.
  • That move saves a run, as Evan Longoria homers to center-field just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Adam Jones.
  • Carlos Pena pops out, by the Rays have a 1-0 lead.
Bottom 1:
  • Control specialist Andy Sonnastine (3.82 tRA last year) starts for the Rays.
  • Brian Roberts greets him with a single to center.
  • Adam Jones works back from an 0-2 count to get it to 2-2, and then pulls a breaking-ball down the third-base line for a double.
  • Nick Markakis grounds up the middle, but Sonnastine was able to snag it and get the out at first without a run scoring.
  • The Rays are employing a big shift against Huff, with the shortstop Bartlett almost playing in the usual second-base position. That doesn't really help when you walk the batter though. The bases are loaded for Melvin.
  • Mora lines a single up the middle to give the O's a 2-1 lead. It was an 87 mph fastball up in the zone, which isn't going to get a lot of hitters out.
  • They put the shift on against Luke Scott too, and this time it works with the shortstop snagging a line-drive to the right of second-base.
  • Ryan Freel getting his first start of the year. Short flyball to right ends the inning.
Top 2:
  • Pat "The Bat" Burrell grounds up the middle just passed a diving Izturis for a single.
  • Gabe Kapler might not be seeing Hendrickson well, because he swung and missed at a couple of 86-87 mph fastballs up in the zone, including one for strike three.
  • Slower roller by Dioner Navarro to third gets the force at second, but was hit too slowly for the double play.
  • Ben Zobrist up. Back when Zobrist was still a little-known shortstop prospect in the Houston Astros system, I wanted the team to trade for him. I remember he put up pretty good OBP numbers, and wouldn't have taken much to acquire. On a similar note, I've been a big fan of fellow Rays' under-the-radar acquisition Gabe Gross for a while. I really wish Tampa Bay was in another division, so I could cheer for them during the regular season more. Anyway, Zobrist lifts a pop-up into short left-center field. Izturis ranges way out there to make the catch, but right before he makes light contact with a charging Adam Jones the ball pops out. Navarro's lack of foot-speed means he has to stop at third.
  • Akinori Iwaumra walks to load the bases for the top of the order.
  • Hendrickson gets out of it by inducing a bouncer back to the mound off the bat of Bartlett.
Bottom 2:
  • ZAUN! leads off the second with a double into the left-field corner. Crawford dove for it, but came up short (though it would have been a two-bagger either way).
  • I knew Izturis would try to (stupidly) bunt. After bunting one foul, they let Cesar swing away. He hits a line-drive to right, but Zobrist makes a great diving catch and throws to second to double off Zaun. Even the correct move (letting him hit) and a good middle result (line-drive) can end poorly (double play). It's about the process.
  • Roberts walks on four pitches - that's the second free pass allowed by Sonnastine.
  • Curveball down for a swinging strike one; fastball up for a swinging strike two; curveball for a called strike three. Andy carves Jones up to end the inning.
Top 3:
  • High chop by Crawford - luckily it goes to Huff at first who just has to step on the bag for the out. One of those to third might have been an infield hit.
  • Longoria is retired this time on a flyball to right.
  • Carlos Pena lines out to first.
Continuing watching downstairs with my buddy Ian, who's redesigning this blog in the near future. Final thoughts later.

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