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The Devil Rays
2005-08-15 04:35
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

One of the drawbacks to being a Yankee fan is having to watch the home nine play the Devil Rays nineteen times a year. This year things have been especially bad as the D-Rays have not only been their usual last-place selves, but have been beating up on the Yankees, holding a 7-3 advantage in the season series thus far. Here's a quick summary of those first ten games:

The Yankees and Devil Rays split a two-game series in the Bronx back in late April. In the first game, the Yankees abused Rob Bell to win 19-8 behind a Jaret Wright who did everything he could to lose. Less than a month later, Bell was put on the DL for "personal and psychological issues." He has since been activated and sent to the minors. Wright, meanwhile will make just his sixth start of the year tonight after more than three months on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

The next night Hideo Nomo stifled the Yankee bats, while Randy Johnson gave up a pair of homers to Eduardo Perez as the Rays won 6-2. Johnson has since missed his most recent start with inflammation in his lumbar spine and is questionable for tomorrow. Nomo, meanwhile was released by the D-Rays and is currently attempting a comeback in the Yankees' system.

Two weeks later in Tampa, the Yankees hit what appeared to be their nadir. In the first game, Andy Phillips struck out five times in a 6-2 win over Scott Kazmir and has been blacklisted by Joe Torre ever since. Following the game, Brian Cashman dropped the bombshell that Tony Womack would move to left field, pushing Hideki Matsui into center field, giving the second base job to rookie Robinson Cano, and benching Bernie Williams for the forseable future.

With their new line-up in place, the Yankees proceeded to drop the next three games to the Rays by a combined score of 28-14. In the third game of the series, the Yankees skipped Randy Johnson in the rotation due to concerns over a sore groin. In his place, they started a rookie straight out of double-A Trenton named Sean Henn. Henn was rocked for six runs (five earned) on seven hits and a pair of walks in just 2 1/3 innings. After the game, Henn confessed that his knees were shaking on the mound. He was then sent down to triple-A Columbus.

When the Rays and Yankees met again in the Bronx in late June, it was Henn, back up to fill in for Kevin Brown, who took the mound. Henn faired "better" in his second big-league start, but walked seven men in just 4 2/3 innings, throwing just 47 percent of a staggering 98 pitches for strikes. Against Henn and since-jettisoned reliever Paul Quantrill, the Rays got out to a 5-0 lead behind a stellar outing by Casey Fossum, which was just enough to hold off a four-run rally by the Yankees against the since-demoted Lance Carter in the eighth.

The next night brought another Johnson-Nomo confrontation, with Nomo again coming out on top thanks to Johnson turning in one of his worst starts in recent memory (seven runs on eight hits--three of them homers by Damon Hollins, Kevin Cash and Jonny Gomes--in just three innings). This time, however, the Yankee eighth-inning rally tallied thirteen runs, the second time this year that the Yankees had scored thirteen runs in a single inning against Tampa, and the Bombers emerged with a 20-11 victory.

The next night a 3-2 Yankee lead was erased by a three-run Nick Green home run off Carl Pavano in the seventh, giving the Rays a 5-3 win. In the capper, the Rays got six runs off Chien-Ming Wang to take a 6-4 lead behind Mark Hendrickson, then added a three spot against Tom Gordon in the ninth for good measure to win 9-4.

That most recent series in the Bronx was particularly disheartening as the discrepancy between the Yankees' home record and the Devil Rays' road record entering the series was striking:

Yanks Home: 22-13 (.629)
Rays Road: 5-28 (.152)

Entering the current three-game series in Tampa, the home and away records of the two combatants tells a very different story. As of this past Friday:

Rays Home: 28-28
Yanks Road: 26-29

Sigh.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays*

2005 Record: 43-72 (.374)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 43-72 (.374)

Manager: Lou Piniella
General Manager: Chuck LaMar

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Tropicana Field (96/96)

Who has replaced whom?

Joey Gathright has replaced Reggie Taylor (DFA)
Pete LaForest has replaced Franklin Nunez (minors)
Seth McLung has replaced Hideo Nomo (Yankees)
Trever Miller (DL) has replaced Lance Carter (minors)
Joe Borowksi has replaced Lee Gardner (minors)

Current Roster:

1B – Travis Lee
2B – Nick Green
SS – Julio Lugo
3B – Jorge Cantu
C – Toby Hall
RF – Aubrey Huff
CF – Joey Gathright
LF – Carl Crawford
DH – Jonny Gomes

Bench:

R – Damon Hollins
R – Eduardo Perez (1B)
R - Alex S. Gonzalez (IF)
R – Kevin Cash (C)
L – Pete LaForest (C)

Rotation:

L – Scott Kazmir
L – Casey Fossom
R – Doug Waechter
L – Mark Hendrickson
R – Seth McLung

Bullpen:

R – Danys Baez
R – Travis Harper
L – Trever Miller
R - Chad Orvella
R – Joe Borowski
R - Tim Corcoran

DL:

R – Jesus Colome
R – Rocco Baldelli (OF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

L – Joey Gathright (CF)
L – Carl Crawford (LF)
R – Jorge Cantu (2B)
L – Aubrey Huff (RF)
R – Julio Lugo (SS)
R - Jonny Gomes (DH)
L – Travis Lee (1B)
R – Toby Hall (C)
R - Nick Green (2B)

*roster and records as of Friday Aug. 12

Comments
2005-08-15 07:15:24
1.   Shaun P
Yanks' record vs Devil Rays, before 2005:

2004: 15-4
2003: 14-5
2002: 13-5
2001: 13-6
2000: 6-6
1999: 8-4
1998: 11-1

Ouch. Our recent dominance has truly been in part due to beating up on the dregs of the AL, especially the D-Rays. I think we need to win all nine games left against them.

2005-08-15 07:16:41
2.   JVarghese81
On the plus side, we do get to skip Kazmir and face their 2nd best SP in Fossum tonight - by the by, the other SP have ERAs of 5.32 (Doug W) [Doug W is even crappier at home (5.7 ERA)] and 6.77 (Hendrickson). Also, while Doug W has pitched much better after the break, 4.5 ERA in 4 starts, Hendrickson has been, to quote Bill Walton, HORRRRRIBLE (8.31 ERA in 6 starts). To expect anything less than 2 out of three here should be disrespecting the Yanks...course, they've shown a penchant for disappointing right when hopes are up. Hopefully, this is not one of those times!

Also, Cliff, about Henn's staggering 98 pitches through 4 and 2/3 - that sounds like Leiter on a good day!

2005-08-15 09:39:45
3.   JVarghese81
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2132779
That's pretty amzing to see what Giambi has done this summer...and that's including the numbers he has so far in August, which aren't great (.229/.449/.429).
2005-08-15 11:44:29
4.   rbj
Aw crap, the game's in Tampa, which means Extry Innings will probably broadcast the Tampa announcers. I wonder how long it'll be before they mention how much the Yankees' payroll is.
2005-08-15 13:09:04
5.   Simone
I dread this series. I can't believe what a nightmare the D'Rays have become for the Yankees. It doesn't help that the D'Rays have been playing better baseball of late.
2005-08-15 14:36:18
6.   murphy
how long before the yanks offer rueter a minor league deal?
2005-08-15 15:01:05
7.   Shaun P
Ugh, I hope not, murphy. Rueter's command is about as bad as Leiter's.

rbj, I always appreciated the work DeWayne Staats did when he broadcast Yankees games on MSG "back in the day". I'm not sure who else does TV for the Rays, but I have no problems with Staats.

2005-08-15 15:06:37
8.   sam2175
Yankees should look at it this way: TB has a worse offense and defense than Rangers. If we could beat them up like that, we could do the same to these guys. And they have won their share by sweeping Indians.

Just go out and beat these guys to pulp, and save some more for tomorrow and the rest of the series. We need to keep winning games, it looks like Boston has all the luck this year.

2005-08-15 15:07:48
9.   Four Train
Okay Yankee fans, what's going to happen first tonight: (a) Wright gets lifted after going 2 1/3 with 8 hits; (b) Wright gets lifted due to shoulder "discomfort"; (c) Posada strikes out swinging on a breaking ball with a RISP. Winner gets a free Billy Connors punching bag, complete with the organizational pitching guru's picture.
2005-08-15 15:13:21
10.   Alex Belth
I don't know about Wright tonight, but I figure Alex and Bernie could each hit a homer and think the Yanks should just flat bomb their ass. I know Tampa Bay is competitive but the Yanks should kill those dudes. 8-3 New York.
2005-08-15 15:46:58
11.   Shaun P
Hmm . . . I don't know how Wright will do, either, but we should win big-time:

8.1 IP, 3BB, 7K, 2.16 ERA/0.96 WHIP/.172 BAA

vs.

.281/.354/.455

That's Fossum against the Yanks this year, vs what the Yanks hit (as a team) against lefties. I think Fossum is due to be Bombed.

Did anyone else see Bill Simmons's article about how Johnny Damon should be mentioned as an MVP candidate? I thought he was nuts, but Damon has a WARP3 of 8.1. Not as good as A-Rod (9.8), Tejada (9.4), or Jeter (8.3), but definitely better than Manny (6.3), Vlad (7.0), Sheff (7.1) and Ortiz (7.3). (The defense component of WARP3 hurts those guys, I imagine, as they all have higher VORPs than Damon).

Still, Captain Caveman over A-Rod for MVP, to say nothing of Mo? I don't think so.

2005-08-15 15:57:20
12.   sam2175
Simmons should stick either to basketball or Kimmel Show. His stupid baseball analyses has ceased to be funny.
2005-08-15 15:57:33
13.   singledd
Bill Simmons is a funny guy, but a die-hard Sox fan. And with Sox fans, when it comes to seeing straight, Mr. Magoo has a big advantage.
2005-08-15 16:31:10
14.   Marcus
"Jason Giambi grounds into unassisted double play, first baseman Travis Lee. Alex Rodriguez out at 2nd. Jason Giambi to 1st."

What the hell happened there?

2005-08-15 16:43:28
15.   Schteeve
Why is Jeter DHing?
2005-08-15 16:47:27
16.   sam2175
Giambi seems to have entered a slump in August, when A-Rod has picked up. It would be nice to see us firing in all cylinders and putting a game away early. If we win at all today, that is, but still early in the game.
2005-08-15 16:48:38
17.   Schteeve
Wright's through three pretty efficiently, without incident. More than I expected.
2005-08-15 16:50:04
18.   rbj
Marcus,
Lee stepped on 1st, first. That took the force off, A-Rod had gone a bit to second on the ground ball, but then he just frippin' stood there while Lee came over to tag him out.
Alex, you could make them sweat a bit for the out. They might throw the ball away.

Wright's looking decent so far, through 3 innings.

2005-08-15 17:00:42
19.   JVarghese81
Good Lord is he hot right now...wow.
2005-08-15 17:04:07
20.   rbj
Ok. if you want to save your legs for home runs, that's fine by me.
2005-08-15 17:25:24
21.   sam2175
So Escalona means business, on both occassions, he struck out at 3 pitches.

Joe needed a candidate to play SS to give Jeter off, and Escalona is the chosen one. I wonder if Sheff ever needs to DH why Phillips is not the chosen one instead of Womack.

2005-08-15 18:07:57
22.   Schteeve
I totally called that homer by Gary. In my head. No one heard me. But I called it.
2005-08-15 18:25:03
23.   singledd
Wright was OK but not great. Some hard hit balls and the Rays never worked the count. Considering how BAD Wright had been pre-injury, it was as much as we might have hoped for.

ARod looks like he's enjoying NY. Out of a dangerous 7th. Looking good.

2005-08-15 18:53:48
24.   vockins
It's Mo doldrum time.
2005-08-15 19:06:50
25.   JVarghese81
Good W, good way to start off the series...

Now we just gotta start rooting for the Tigers - let's see Schilling give up the lead - that would be grreat.

2005-08-15 19:14:23
26.   JVarghese81
WHOOOO! Okay, that's one wish granted - how's about getting the A's and the Angels to go down tonight too...
2005-08-15 19:19:23
27.   Nick from Washington Heights
It gives me goosebumps whenever Schilling blows a game.
2005-08-15 20:29:01
28.   Paul in Boston
Nick, you took the words right out of my mouth. Heaven ...
2005-08-16 00:11:39
29.   Rich
It's now pretty clear that Wright was injured in ST and hid it from the team (and perhaps even denied it to himself).

If he can remain healthy, I expect him to be a very effective starter for the Yankees.

Now all the Yankees need to do is to convince Torre to remove Leiter (aka The Bullpen Killer™) from the rotation.

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