Sunday, October 4, 2009

There's Some Bad Blood A-Brewin'

The Rays have resumed their bush-league antics, and while the Yankees can't retaliate right now, they certainly won't forget.

An errant throw by Alfredo Aceves on an double steal in the fifth inning allowed two runs to score and the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3 in Tampa on Saturday.

But the real story is that the Rays plunked Jerry Hairston Jr. -- twice. That coming a night after David Price hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch with some on the Yankees wondering about the rookie lefthander's intentions.

But I'm not going be indirect here. The intent is clear. The Rays are trying to send a message, and it's a message both the Yankees and Red Sox have heard before.

After winning the AL pennant last season, the Rays, thanks in large part to injuries, have taken a step back, failing to even be playoff threat this last month of the season.

They intend to be back next season and wanted to send the Yankees and the rest of the league a message.

Just as they did in the spring of 2008.

Remember what happened then?

In a spring training game, Elliot Johnson ran over then-unknown minor leaguer Francisco Cervelli on a play at the plate, breaking Cervelli's wrist and costing him most of the season.


It was just a spring training game, but the Rays were sending a message. They were going to play the game hard and aggressively and they weren't afraid to go toe-to-toe with the "bullies" in the AL East.

And just to make sure the Red Sox got the message, James Shields plunked Coco Crisp on the hip, sparking a benches-clearing brawl on June 5.

This is how the Rays do business.

And before you neophyte baseball fans who support the Rays but didn't even know there was team in Tampa before last October start bitching and moaning about CC Sabathia breaking Carlos Pena's hand with a pitch in September, know this: there was no intent to hit Pena with that pitch.

Anyone who was paying attention during that game understands that.

The fact of the matter is that the pitch started out over the plate enough for Pena to start his swing, and when he tried to hold up as the pitch bore in too far, he couldn't, resulting in a strike.

When a pitcher wants to hit a batter intentionally, he goes throws right at the hitter. That's not what CC did.

Shove that in your cowbell and bang on it.

Yet, there was Price on Friday, firing a pitch shoulder-high and tight that hit Teixeira in the hand in the first inning. Teixeira wasn't happy and the Yankees took notice. When a player doesn't believe a pitcher hit him on purpose, he says so. That's not what Teixeira did, answering reporters' question with short, terse answers.

And that brings us to Saturday.

The last series of the season means little to the Yankees. They want to keep their core players sharp and healthy, while evaluating some others for the last few spots on the postseason lineup. That Andy Pettitte allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits and four walks in 4-1/3 innings is not a big deal, so long as his left shoulder and elbow are healthy and strong.

But the Rays have a different agenda. They want the Yankees to know that they'll be right there in 2010, competing for another division title.

In the third, rookie Jeff Neimann hit Hairston and then he did it again in the fifth.

And as we saw last year, this is how the Rays send their messages -- it's old-school.

If that had happened in July or August, you could have counted on the Yankees retaliating by hitting, say, Akinori Iwamura or Jason Bartlett. In early September, the Yanks could have let Shelley Duncan become baseball's version of the NHL's enforcer.

But the Yankees have too much riding right now. The last thing they want is for someone to be suspended, or worse, injured in a brawl.

So instead, they'll tuck the Rays' transgressions into their memory banks.

Count on the Yankees finding some baseball justice at some point next season.

Joba Out Of The Pen Today
Joba Chamberlain is going to pitch out of the bullpen today, possibly to two batters, maybe for an inning, so that the Yankees can figure out if the young righthander can help them in that role in the postseason.

Which leads me to wonder: What the heck was the last two months about? Weren't the Yankees' insane plans to limit Joba's innings also about having him available as a starter in the postseason?

So that means the Yankees messed with the kid's head just so that he could wind up in the bullpen anyway? Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

Nice job Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland. Helluva job.

Your handling of Joba made so much more sense than, oh, I don't know, letting Joba pitch every fifth day and throwing 100 pitches an outing until he hits 145-150 inning and then moving him to the bullpen to finish out the year.

At least learn from this episode so that you don't repeat it with Phil Hughes next season.

Runners In Scoring Position
Saturday
3-for-11 (.273)
Season
414-for-1,529 (.271)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
197-for-710 (.277)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
349-for-1,256 (.278)
Vs. Red Sox
45-for-204 (.221)

Up Next
Sunday at Rays, 1:38 p.m., YES
A.J. Burnett (12-9, 4.10 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (2-1, 3.45)

Burnett has been streaky this season, so he'll be looking to continue the roll he's on ... and maybe get his 100th career victory to boot. Davis is rookie closing out the season for the Rays as they prepare for an offseason on the golf course.

7 comments:

Dave said...

See, I was right. He ended up in the bullpen after all.

Aviv said...

Not quite. He'll be back in the rotation next season, and besides I said all along that Joba should start until he hit 150 innings and then finish the year in the bullpen ... should I dig up those posts?

Andrea said...

wow, this has to be the most ridiculous article I have ever read. Why on earth would Niemann hit one of the lowest averaging players on the yankees on purpose?!? In a close game too, and on top of that Niemann was going hard for the win to increase his bid for rookie of the year.. so why was that intentional?! Exactly, it wasn't. And even if the Sabathia pitch wasn't on purpose, it took out our hottest hitter for the rest of the season, the yankees should have been expecting something, and I am willing to bet most teams would have done the same thing. And regarding the Coco Crisp/ James Shields incident you failed to mention the prior games. Everyone on both teams knew it was coming, it was jut a matter of when. The so called "Dirty Tactics" of the rays are no different than anyone else.. Plays at the plate happen all the time like that, and that play was partly responsible for the rays success in 08'. So maybe you should take a look @ this article and check some of your facts before you go accusing a team of your so called "tactics".

Aviv said...

Wow, I knew Rays "fans" were new to baseball, I didn't realize they were new to the Internet, too. Let me guess Andrea, you just got one of those new-fangled computers in your trailer home. Don't worry, Dave and I will have you educated and baseball-saavy before you know it.

First, plays at the plate, such as the one Johnson put on Cervilli, don't ever happen in spring training, and if you had clicked on the blue words where I mention that play, you'd be taken to a story on Tampa Online in which you'd find the following quote from Pena:

"The thing with Elliot Johnson in spring training was big," Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said.

And this:

"It was an early sign of our mentality," Pena said.

And really, that's all you need to know about the Rays. They were looking to stand up to the big kids on the block, they wanted to mix it up and get into those fights with the Red Sox ... and it worked for them last year. They proved a point and it carried them to the World Series. Congrats.

But they didn't do that this year, and that is why Neimann went after Hairston, who is a respected veteran in the game, not that an ignorant Rays fan who never even heard of the guy before Saturday would know that. The game isn't entirely about statistics, you know.

Yes, Neimann is rookie, and as such, it is all the more important to show his teammates that he'll stick up for them and stand up to the Yankees. Heck, he's now hit a batter seven times this season ... and his control is not that bad.

Face it Andrea, the only thing left for the Rays this season is preparing for next season, and Joe Maddon needs this team to get back to the tactics that worked last year. The actual game situation and a win or loss, means less than nothing right now for the Rays. What? There's a huge difference between winning 84 or 85 games? The Rays are out of the playoffs either way.

But sending a message for next year is heck of a lot more important.

But also understand this, this is not how other teams play, and of course I realize that the more you want and become educated about the game, the more you'll understand that.

In baseball culture, because a player gets hurt when he gets hit with a pitch, it is not license to go after players on the other team. No one else, not even the Red Sox, would have thought about retaliation for what happened to Pena. His injury sucks and is unfortunate, but it's also part of the game and clearly wasn't close to intentional. But the Rays and their baseball naive fans don't understand that.

Don't worry Andrea, I understand that you, a Rays fan who just discovered baseball last October, really know nothing about baseball or how it's played. But I promise, the more you read this blog, the more you'll learn, and if you're really lucky, maybe one day, you might even be able to explain the infield fly rule ... or why you don't everwalk Mark Teixiera to get to Alex Rodriguez.

Andrea said...

First off I'm not new to baseball as you say, I have been a rays fan since 00' and an orioles fan before that, so why don't you keep your ignorant comments to yourself. And yes in that situation they walked Teixiera to save Pena's co title, which face it.. if he hadn't of gotten hit, he would have flat out dominated that award. But if the rays are the dirty team you have said they are then why didn't they just hit Teixiera there? But, it doesn't matter, you guys are going on, were not. I just think that this article was poorly written (and yes I am educated in journalism). But regardless, good luck in the postseason..

Aviv said...

Andrea, did you miss the part where the Rays hit Teixeira Saturday? Did you conveniently forget about that? Or were you just too busy just looking at the pretty pictures to actually read the post.

Heck, no one cares who wins the HR title (Note: it's not an award, learn the difference). Think anyone will really remember that in three years. Without looking it up, can you tell me who hit most homers in the AL three years ago? The Yankees don't care who wins the HR title. Neither do Yankee fans. As Herm Edwards said, "You play to win the game." Maddon and the Rays didn't Sunday.

And c'mon, give me a stronger response than that. I just ripped apart your initial comment and all you've got is "I just think that this article was poorly written." Of course you do! You disagree the premise and are blinded to the reality of what the Rays are -- even though they players themselves admit to that style of play.

And really, trying to bolster your case that you're a well-educated baseball fan by saying that before you were a Rays fan, you were a Batlimore wOes fan. That just does not help your case. Ever hear sports talk radio in Baltimore?Painful. Just painful.

Finally, I'll be as condescending and snarky as I damn well please. My blog. My rules. Wah, wah, wah.

Shelley said...

Hey all. Red Sox fan here. *winks*

If the Rays are hitting Yankees players as a result of what happened to Pena...that isn't right. Everyone knows that what happened to Carlos was horrible, but there was NO intent there. None. No one felt more horrible than CC for what happened.

And Aviv...you are right, if there was no intent, the Red Sox definitely wouldn't have retaliated. Example. Jonny Lester. We know that no one meant to take a line drive off his knee. It sucked, but there was never a sense of getting any kind of revenge for the Yanks putting our ace on the ground. Sometimes...it happens.

I also think that when you are heading home and the other team is heading to the post season, intentional hits are just uncalled for. No matter what. Don't take the chance of injuring that player who is needed by his team in October. It's just not right.