To sum it all up, it was a perfect night. Brett and I were fortunate enough to make it out tonight so here’s a quick rundown of the game. Walking into the Trop, you could feel the great atmosphere as everyone was anxious and excited. The pregame ceremony was tremendous, and it was awesome to see Fernando Perez be a part of it. Watching the whole team walk out while carrying the banners, along with the coaches, Andrew Friedman and Co., was something special. Definitely an awesome experience that I hope we can all experience often. The Rays came out of the gate hot and the Trop was rocking. Now to the game notes.
We were eager to see an encore performance from Scott Kazmir and that’s exactly what we got. Granted he was spotted a big lead early, it’s still a good sign to see Kaz working strong and keeping his pitch count low. Final line: 6.2IP, 6H, 3ER, 6K on 100 pitches, 68 of which were for strikes. We really like what we are seeing out of Kazmir so far.
We highlighted Evan Longoria’s hot hitting and Longo struggled a bit early. We attribute that to him pressing trying to get into the action and impress all the bay area ladies. He would settle and pick up a hit and two RBI’s.
The long-awaited 2009 debut of B.J. Upton will be labeled a success. B.J. opened with a walk and stole on the first pitch; he would later score. Then Upton would go on to make one of the greatest catches I’ve seen in person. A tremendous read and great self awareness, as we’ve seen him let that ball hit the wall before. Bossman did have two K’s but his timing is still a bit off as he’s been facing single A pitching for the last few weeks.
What Went Right:
Everyone can have a claim to be here but let’s start with Carlos Pena. Pena picked up two RBI’s in the first and massacred the ball his second at bat for a grand slam. It was good to see Pena be patient at the dish and drive the ball. He just needs to start going the other way a bit and he should be good to go.
Pat Burrell was a triple shy of the cycle as hopefully tonight was his coming out party. Before tonight, we hadn’t seen The Bat hit the ball hard but that was done away with after his double and homer.
Anytime Jason Bartlett goes yard, it makes it imperative to give him a shout out. J.B. added two singles to bump his average to a cool .444. Not bad production from your number nine hitter. Also interesting to note he has doubled his homerun total from last season in the first seven games.
What Went Wrong:
Anything that I put in here tonight would just be me nitpicking. Gabe Gross did have another base running gaffe and Gabe Kapler did strikeout against Nick Swisher but hey, we’ve mentioned all year that we don’t expect much out of them anyway.
Game two of the series will feature a couple of flame throwers with Matt Garza taking on A.J. Burnett. Let’s see if Garza can have another good outing and really show the Yankees that the Rays were division champions for a reason. Also for those of you that can make it to the game, you will be receiving a replica A.L. Championship Ring, an item that we here at Trop Talk are dying to get our hands on. Let’s also see how the Yankee bullpen holds up the rest of the series after a busy night tonight.