Toronto tees off on Tampa Bay 13-5

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Toronto originally took the lead in the third inning with a solo home run from John McDonald. Tampa Bay was held hitless through four innings but managed to get something going in the bottom of the fifth. Evan Longoria led off with a walk and managed to advance to second when Carlos Pena flied out to center field. Sean Rodriguez also walked before Kelly Shoppach flied to right, moving Longo to third. Ben Zobrist reached on an error by Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill, scoring Longoria. Dan Johnson's double brought Rodriguez and Zobrist both home; Johnson was thrown out when he got a little greedy trying for third base.


Then the nightmare began, heralded by a full-on Niemann self-destruction. I'm not going to give you the entire scoring summary because you don't want to read it and I don't want to type it. Let me just say that the towering Texan yielded five hits — three for extra bases — and hit a batter without notching an out in the frame. This brought six men in to score. His reliever, Lance Cormier, didn't fare much better, giving up a two-run homer to his first batter faced. Remember when I said yesterday that the key to this series is limiting the involvement of Jose Bautista? He was the hit batter, so he scored one of those runs charged to Niemann. He came up later in the same inning and cracked a three-run bomb off of Cormier as his revenge for the sore hip. That laid down the finally tallies in what turned out to be a horrific 10-run frame of batting practice off of Niemann and Cormier.

The Rays teased a comeback attempt in the bottom half of the eighth, but not before reliever Andy Sonnanstine allowed two more Toronto runs to score. Dewayne Wise picked up an RBI on his groundout to second and Bautista got another RBI — four on the evening — with a base hit.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Zobrist reached on an error and Johnson walked; B.J. Upton singled to load the bases. Reid Brignac's base hit scored Big Ben and Johnson, moving Upton to third. Matt Joyce's strikeout took a bit of shine off the pipe dream but Willy Aybar walked to reload the bases. Alas, it was not meant to be, as Carlos Pena grounded out to first base to end the rally that never really got started.

Brutal, brutal game to watch. I stayed through the end for a bevy of reasons, not the least of which were the awesome suite seats I had thanks to a business contact. Also, I always hate leaving events early and generally will only do so if I have previously arranged time commitments. I won't say that makes me a better fan than anyone else but you can draw your own conclusions. Thirdly, I had to tell you fine people about the game, so how exactly could I leave and still be able to do that effectively?

This was another one of those outings where manager Joe Maddon kind of punted the ball midway through and made some radical defensive changes to rest the star players. What else can you say about a loss like this one? It sucks, it's painful to watch — doubly so in person — and you just have to move on and hope the team can as well. There's no sense dwelling on it, even though it's the second shellacking in a week at the hands of a club no longer in playoff contention. You just go to bed and hope for a better outcome in the next day's game; this of course is after showering and desperately trying to scrub off the stink from this loss.

Good news

[image-2]Silver lining time, folks. August is over, and that means — drumroll, please — the September roster expansion. YAY! Right? Guess you need to be a big baseball fan.

According to a report from, fan-favorite Rocco Baldelli is set to return to the big club in the first wave of roster expansion Wednesday, Sept. 1. The article also speculated that rookie phenom Jeremy Hellickson and catcher Dioner Navarro will make the move up with Rocco on Wednesday.

I think this is great news from a fan perspective. Not only does this give us another right-handed bat in the lineup but it feels like 2008 again. Rocco is hitting .278 in the minors this year in 23 games. He’s hit two home runs in 44 at-bats with the Durham Bulls, the Rays’ AAA affiliate. Not exactly numbers to wet your pants over, but the psychological implications pay even more dividends. He's a great guy to have in the community and a great guy to have in the clubhouse. His return is inspiring and I like the idea of these Rays playing inspired baseball, yes?

Is it over yet? Wow... ouch. The "highlights" of this spanking keep playing over and over in my head and I want them to stop; I'm not sure if the Rays are still getting their asses handed to them or if I'm simply reliving the pain mentally.

Allegedly around 13,000 other people were in attendance to watch this excruciating outing of baseball, in which the Tampa Bay Rays fell 5-13 to the Toronto Blue Jays. I can't say I especially believe that staitistic, as I surveyed the ocean of empty blue seats around me, but I know it shrank at an alarming rate as the sixth inning came and went.

Jeff Niemann got the start on the hill for the Rays and looked pretty good through five innings, much better than his previous outing, which had been the first since his return from the Disabled List. I remember scrawling in my game notes that Jeff's control started to wane toward the end of the fifth inning and that manager Joe Maddon should get the bullpen warmed up. Apparently he didn't get that little telepathic memo.

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