Carlos Pena blanks Tampa Bay Rays… or something like that

“One thing leads to another”

-          The Fixx

I play poker.   Not as much as I used to, but I still dabble at the table every now and then.

One thing I’ve learned about poker over the years, particularly no limit hold ‘em, is that one mistake, one error, one misstep, no matter how small, can cost you big.  Poker is not as forgiving as real life.

Neither is professional baseball.

The Tampa Bay Rays, previously winners of seven straight games (and nearly eight) since the return of Evan Longoria, went into a mind-numbing, nine-inning slump, in which they compiled back-to-back, gut-wrenching losses.

How does a team manage to drop two decisions in only nine innings, you ask?  It’s simple, actually, and quite Rayspecific.

Tuesday night in Seattle, the Rays held a one-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth.  With their nearly perfect closer Fernando Rodney on the mound, the first batter he faced, Kyle Seager, singled to right field.  Playing for the tie, Chone Figgins then sacrificed him over with a well-placed bunt down the first base line.

That’s when things went haywire.

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena fielded the soft grounder cleanly, looked towards second base to see if he could get the lead runner in Seager, which he couldn’t, then turned towards Sean Rodriguez who was waiting at first for the put-out.  Pena double-clutched and then, well, you know the rest.  E3 of the game-costing kind.  Pena’s throw sailed wide left and Seager came around to score.  Figgins later scored on a game-winning hit by Eric Thames.  Game over.  Victory, Seattle, after they had been losing for eight-and-a-half innings.

In a single misstep, the Rays wasted another stellar outing by starter Matt Moore, who allowed only one run and struck out nine in seven innings.

But Moore’s performance had nothing on what fans were about to witness in that very same building sixteen hours later.

Wednesday, in the final game of the three-game set, the Rays were blanked… and I mean blanked.  No runs, no hits, no walks, no nothing.  Seattle’s starter Felix Hernandez was untouchable, pitching a perfect twenty-seven up and twenty-seven down.

For those of you keeping track at home, that makes three perfect games thrown against the Rays in the past four seasons, an alarming feat considering there have only been 23 perfect games thrown in the history of the sport!  Tampa Bay: the ultimate cure for your pitching woes.

I’m not saying the Rays are the worst hitting team in the league.  They’re 28th.  Nor am I suggesting that the Rays are the worst fielding team in the majors.  They’re 26th.  To even be in playoff contention with those two, glaring statistics is a miracle in itself and a testament to their pitching staff.

Nor am I hinting that Carlos Pena’s errant toss started a cataclysmic, downward spiral that led to Tampa Bay’s inability to put the ball in play only a few hours later.

Perhaps it is just coincidence these two losses happened the way they did.  Just as Evan Longoria’s long-awaited return to the lineup had little to do with their seven-game winning streak, Pena’s gaffe had absolutely nothing to do with their subsequent, nine-inning stretch of blankitude, or did it?

Tampa’s brief lull is no mountain for manager Joe Maddon.  He’ll assuredly find a way for his team to put those losses behind them, as they showed with a 7-0 victory in Anaheim the following night.

With just over a month left in the baseball season, all is not yet lost for the Tampa Bay Rays… as long as they play their cards right.

31 thoughts on “Carlos Pena blanks Tampa Bay Rays… or something like that

  1. “an alarming feat considering there have only been 23 complete games thrown in the history of the game!”

    Might want to change “complete” to some other adjective. Roy Halladay has 66 career complete games.

  2. If Pena isn’t hitting, Al?

    The guy’s batting around .200 this season which means he “isn’t hitting” about 80% of the time. I’ve never seen a team with more .200 hitters in their lineup in my life.

  3. Duly noted and changed, Jim.

    It was late when I put the post up. It should obviously have read “perfect games” which it does now.

    You are officially hired on to my editorial staff. Will you work for free?

  4. Being a Rays fan is like riding a roller coaster for seven months. At times you might feel a little sick, but it’s fun all the way to the end.
    Happy weekend brother and Cheers!

  5. Chris

    This is the Rays we’re talking about in terms of an offense and not the Rangers , Angels or Yankees .

    That performance by the Rays against the Mariners was akin to watching a bunch of aging geriatrics in a nursing home , with flailing arms requesting a bedpan just about the time they’re realizing that it’s time for a bodily function .

    Melky Cabrera’s excuse as to why he tested positive , he mixed up the days’ daily dosages of Viagra, Vitamin B-12 , estrogen (female hormone he shouldn’t be taking) and testosterone . Why do these dumb athletes ingest stuff into their system without first consulting with either a team doctor or a trained medical professional to begin with ?

    Chad Johnson has just been signed by Vivid Entertainment ……… the purveyors of adult oriented material . Hint . Johnson in one of his many boasts while appearing on Hard Knocks stated that he wanted to become an adult entertainer in that particular industry . So going from dropping balls in the NFL (his forte’ in latter part of his career) , he’ll now be using his balls for another purpose . How touching ……… pardon the pun there ! LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Tophatal …….

  6. Aer…

    The Rays bounced back nicely last night. Kudos to Maddon for getting his team to put those tough losses behind them.

    They are Jekyll and Hyde though, man. Seven runs one night, only two in the previous two.

    Go figure.

  7. Al…

    The Rangers, Yanks and Red Sox rank 1,2 and 3 in the AL in runs scored. Angels are sixth.

    Nobody expects the Rays to offensively compete with those numbers to be perfecto’ed against that often is a little disturbing.

    I mean, are they that unlucky to face that many different pitchers on their best days or are they giving up?

    Whoops, I said it.

    Re: Cabrera, Al, can you believe Major League Baseball is going to make him eligible for the batting title? Who’s damn decision was that?

    Remember when Shawne Merriman was suspended for drug use in a year he could have won Defensive Player? No way the NFL was gonna let him have that award.

  8. It’s kinda funny how similar the A’s and Rays are. From financials down to the way they win and lose. The A’s don’t get no-hit/perfectoed, but they lead the league in shutting out teams, and they also lead the league in being shut out. Both of them either look really good or really bad from night to night… I guess that’s what the low payroll does for you…

  9. Your A’s have cooled off a little bit, Chap.

    And I gotta tell ya’, it’s an absolute pleasure watching this Rays staff go out every day and deal.

    Not a weak spot in the rotation, man.

  10. Yeah, MCeezy and I have been wondering when the A’s would start fading, because their team is basically all rookies… Honestly I didn’t see them even being competitive until next year, but this experience will only help them down the road, unless they trade everyone away…

  11. Chap…

    I’ll admit to be wrong about them as well.

    I didn’t expect much out of them with that division being so top-heavy. A still respectable season and it ain’t over yet.

  12. Chris

    Baseball’s rule book , have you ever read it from cover to cover ? Let’s put it this way you’d probably find Tolstoy’s War & Peace far more engrossing . Better yet try reading US Congress’ tax code ? .

    Now with regard to the Rays we’ve always known that they were an offense driven juggernaut so anything that comes their way is simply a bye product .

    Melky Cabrera has Ryan Braun’s number on speed dial .

    The NBA season starts on 3rd October . Well now that they’ll be back to an 82 game schedule I truly believe that this upcoming season we’re going to see a number of players break down physically , especially those players who were participants in the Olympics . Consider the fact that last season was a 66 game schedule , along with the postseason . And then you had Olympic tournament with group round competition , knockout rounds and the final itself . In total that’s close to 90 plus games . Crazy isn’t it ?

    Tophatal ….

  13. Chris

    The Bucs scored first , unfortunately it wasn’t often enough ! To come out of a home game on the wrong side of a 30-7 loss is rather embarrassing. And then you take into account that even with the changes as it concerns “blackouts of scheduled preseason opener ” and there weren’t enough fans in the stands at the Ray J . Fair weather fans as far as the Bucs are concerned . Preseason or not it was an embarrassment all-round by the Bucs as a team .

    Good news for Gator fans my Patriots sign Jeffrey Demps .

    Slaying the dragon Rays’ style as they’re laying a can of whoop ##s on the Angels at present .

    Tophatal ………….

  14. Al…

    Let’s just say all three rulebooks, the NFL’s, NBA’s and MLB’s could probably use a good combing over considering a lot of their rules are a) obsolete and b) not enforced.

    Again with the Rays’ Jekyll and Hydedness. Blanked one day and explosive the next two. My question to you is, did their beatdown of Jered Weaver tonight win David Price the Cy Young Award?

    I’m drafting a piece on Major League Baseball and their stance on Melky Cabrera but I just don’t know if it’s worth the effort.

    And I agree with you on the upcoming NBA season and how coaches will want to play their starters, not just the American players but anyone else who gave their all.

  15. Al….

    I didn’t get to watch the Bucs play their home pre-season opener as I was working, but I heard they left a lot to be desired, including attendance figures.

    I also heard LeGarrette Blount got hurt. Hope Doug Martin is ready to get more carries than expected. He might get dinged up as well if that O-Line doesn’t have their shit together. Perhaps they should have jumped on Demps when they had the chance.

  16. Chris

    The Bucs were hideous ! And never mind the fact that the Ray J was literally empty.

    The Rays came from behind again and let loose on the Angels .

    The Marlins’ Mike/Giancarlo Stanton at the moment has to be the hottest guy in baseball . Six straight games with a home runs beyond the RBI’s batted in .

    The Yankees Red Sox series just took on a real life of its own . New York Yankees looked really bad in the 4-1 loss .

    The ‘stros fire their manager and half of the managerial staff . And to think next season they move from the NL Central to the AL West . Have they got a death wish ?

    Selig duped the new owner Jim Crane , with Crane having spent over $700 million to buy the organization and then getting that $65 million hometown discount .

    What the hell are the Cowboys and Jets serving up for their fans ? Both of those teams are looking awfully bad !

    I’d rather read or should I say look at the pictorials in Playboy than read the US tax code ! But that’s just me ! Your thoughts ?

    Tophatal ………….

  17. When the NBA regular season starts in October we’re going to see some awfully bad basketball . Reasons ! The players who were participants in London will still be mentally and physically drained . Those who play in the NBA …. specifically the ones who were part of the postseason will played close to 115 games in total . That to me is crazy and there are those who feel that the NFL is a game that physically is one that takes a real toll ?

    Tophatal ………..

  18. So, this is how I find out I’ve been fired? Not even a text? Cold, man :)
    Hey, to err is human, to forgive, divine. I just made that up. If the Rays could trot out the same lineup a few days in a row, maybe they’d be more consistent. I shut that game off last night at 0-8, shame on me. Still hoping for Rays/Bucs WS, dreamin’ big.

  19. Chris

    So the Feds will jointly conduct an investigation to see how Cabrera was supplied with the illicit substances prescribed for him . Funny I don’t remember them taking that much interest when A Rod stepped forward and finally ‘fessed up that he’d been using the “boli” (anabolic steroids) as he called it . And even after that confession it was known that he remained in contact with the now convicted Orlando medical professional Dr Anthony Galea (Galea’s patients included a litany of NFL and MLB players as well some guy named Tiger Woods).

    The FBI , Justice Dept and FDA as an arm of the US government are as flaccid as the male appendage suffering from ED . What damn use are they ?

    Tophatal ……………

  20. Al…

    I heard Ray Jay was lucky to hold 40,000 fans that night. An auspicious start to the season for sure. Imagine if the Bucs hadn’t blasted a pretty healthy new advertising campaign for the Schiano era. Do you think anyone in the area would have known football season was even coming up?

    The Rays just embarrassed the Angels with a pretty handy four-game road sweep in their very building. Very impressive, Al.

    Re: the Magic, I have a standing bet with Chap that his Warriors will finish with a better record than Orlando this season. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be the big winner in the casino on that one.

  21. Yaz…

    Maddon will never trot the same lineup out. That’s not what the numbers tell him to do.

    But whatever they’re telling him to do is working, so I’d keep it up, no?

    I mean, wasn’t Anaheim a potential playoff team until the Rays just went in there and punked ‘em?

  22. Al…

    As usual, I’m behind on my reading but I’ll catch up later, once I get back from the golf course.

    And I’ll have my take up on Cabrera soon. If Selig doesn’t use this latest news to make him ineligible for the batting title, well then, he just isn’t paying much attention to what the hell is happening all around him.

  23. Chris

    You and I both know that if Selig were to have a nose bleed his testes would shrink to the size of a grape .

    So August National Golf Club will now have women members ? Remind me what Augusta, much less noted icons such as Nicklaus and Palmer have done for minorities at the height of their fame in the sport ? If you can name one act from either then I’d be pleasantly surprised . But they’re now making such a big deal that they now have female members at Augusta ? What a crock of s#it !

    Tophatal …………….

  24. Al…

    Stay tuned for my take on Augusta. It’ll be up soon.

    And since you’re watching the Nationals, you might want to soak up as much of Stephen Strasburg as you can since he won’t be pitching much longer.

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