After 10 years of losing in fact, never finishing any less than 21 games under .500 the Tampa Bay Rays finally achieved their first winning season with last night’s 143 destruction of the Orioles. Coming off of two close victories against the Blue Jays, and under scrutiny once again for lack of attendance, the Rays needed a game like this to ease the burden. Ben Zobrist’s first career grand slam turned it into a landslide in the fourth inning, immediately followed by a home run from Gabe Gross, and later one from Shawn Riggans. When three important roleplayers all hit home runs in one night, just about everything is going the right way. With Scott Kazmir’s 10th win, all five starters now have 10 or more wins this season, a feat unheard of in Tampa Bay baseball history until now. I could go into much more detail about the week that was, including the possibly gamesaving catch by Justin Ruggiano in the 10 win over Toronto, but I don’t want to ramble on too long before the Rays host Baltimore and the FOX broadcasting crew this afternoon.
There is at least one more headline to call attention to. Doug Eddings, the umpire who wrongly and unjustly awarded A.J. Pierzynski third base in last Sunday’s loss in Chicago, has indeed publicly admitted that he made the wrong call. Mike Port, MLB’s Vice President of Umpiring, told the St. Petersburg Times, “Looking back at that occurrence, for the first and last time, it was a missed call. And it was not because Doug Eddings, an umpire with 10 years experience, and 10 before that in the Minor Leagues, didn’t know the application of the rule. But just that in the moment in applying the rule, he saw something he thought was more than it turned out to be.” That was quite obvious, but at least the higherups admitted to it. Joe Maddon will now try to move on and away from that travesty, even going so far as to say he respects Eddings 100 times more than he previously did. Now that the Rays have won three in a row, that call may not haunt them quite as much these days.
With the division lead still at 4½ games, the Rays play on national (OK, regional) TV today, sending Andy Sonnanstine out to the mound to once again try for his franchise record 14th win. Young left hander Chris Waters’ start for the Orioles has been moved up one day due to the timely serving of a suspension by Daniel Cabrera, who is out six games for throwing at Alex Rodriguez. I think they can beat a rookie, why not? J.P. Howell will be introducing the lineup for the host Rays. The team is expecting over 30,000 fans to showcase to a larger TV audience, which will be a little better exposure than they’ve had in recent days. Until next time, go Rays.