A Golden Glove

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Another epic piece to the surprising puzzle that was the 2008 Rays team. For the first time in their history, a position player has won the Gold Glove Award, an accolade bestowed upon 1 player at each position for defensive excellence. This year, Carlos Pena, the Rays’ charismatic, dependable but gradually balding first baseman has won this years AL award for first base! He only committed and unprecedented 2 errors the entire year! Congratulations to Carlos! He cares because he doesn’t smoke!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

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“DL” Blues

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Is it all starting to come apart for the Rays? We knew that one of the faces of the franchise, Carl Crawford, was gong to end up on the DL after an injury to a finger. Now defensive AND offensive stud rookie Evan Longoria will be joining hm on the 15 day disabled list, after Longo took a pitch to the wrist, resulting in a slight fracture. The question is, should we begin to panic? This isn’t the first time where the Rays have had tough circumstances regarding the unavailability of players. The classic Rays – Red Sox brawl back in June resulted in 5 suspensions for the Rays.

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Navarro, Kazmir, Pena and Bartlett have all had a stint on the DL this year also. So, while it may be tough that it is two of the most marketable, and well, most exciting players, its time for the bench to step in again to deliver the Rays. Most notably, you KNOW that Dominican utility man Willy Aybar is ready to play any position. He has been used to plug up any holes in the infield the Rays have had, playing four positions in the infield. He also provides a clutch, opportunistic offensive threat. The same thing with Ben Zobrist, who has recently proved he can also play outfield, though it will probably be Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross out in left. Don’t forget the return of Rocco Baldelli in right field, as he has slowly been able to recuperate from a diagnosed mitochondrial disorder. Hopefully he can provide the right-handed bat the Rays have been lacking.

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“Ray”volution

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You can take those rally caps off. They’ve done it again. The ninth walk-off victory of the year may have been the most surprising. I mean, I must admit, going into the 9th, I had the loss penciled in on The Rays Page. How wrong I was. Down 7-4 going into the bottom half of the 9th, the Rays managed to score 6… yes, SIX runs to pull off an improbable win. Thanks to doubles from Jason Bartlett and Eric Hinske, a determined hustle down the line from Akinori Iwamura resulting in him beating out a close play at first, and a four pitch walk to Ben Zobrist, the Rays had the base runners needed to begin chipping away at Cleveland’s authoritative lead. The rest of the responsibility was left to Gabe Gross and Carlos Pena to deliver in the clutch. And they did. Gross hit a gargantuan home run off the bottom of the video board in right field to tie the game at 7, while Pena hit the walk-off shot over the center field wall, sending the Tropicana Field faithful into a frenzy. (27,000 at an afternoon game? I am impressed!).

Up next for the Rays is a 10 game, 11 day road trip. Brutal. THIS will be one of the most critical stretches of games for the Rays, who, while as of late have been an improved road team, aren’t the best team on the road. Going out west isn’t the best in terms of rest, but at least it IS the Mariners, followed by Oakland and the Texas Rangers.

Make sure to check the Rays page for standings, game info, and of course, our magic number countdown!!!

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