Damon and Upton Showcase for Rays, still Drop Game to Jays 9-3

By on March 13, 2011

In the top of the first Johnny Damon lines a double to left off Blue Jays starter Brandon Marrow. (Photo By: Rick Sassone)

Dunedin, Fl. (RSEN)– It did not take Johnny Damon long to make an impact this 13th day of March 2011 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin.   In the top of the first stanza Damon lined a 2-2 Brandon Marrow pitch down the left field line past Blue Jays 3B Jose Bautista for a one out double.  Manny Ramirez was then hit by a 3-0 Marrow pitch pushing Damon to second.  With Dan Johnson hitting into potential double play, Jays SS Yunel Escobar’s throw to first was errant allowing Damon to continue to the dish from second.  On the play Manny Ramirez did one of those things not reflected in the boxscore, a hard slide into Escobar forcing the bad throw.

Next batter, Manny Ramirez is hit by a Brandon Marrow pitch that moves Damon to second. (Photo By: Rick Sassone)

Dirk Hayhurst, who was featured last year on Rocket Sports & Entertainment Network (RSEN) ESPN1040am radio show, came in to pitch the top of the third.  Entering the game Hayhurst had pitched 2 innings this spring retiring all 6 batters he faced striking out 2.  In his outing today Hayhurst pitched one inning giving up two hits, no runs while facing five batters.  Hayhurst is the author of the bestselling book “The Bullpen Gospels”.

Dirk Hayhurst shows his personality in the bullpen just before warming up to enter the game. (Photo By: Rick Sassone)

I do not know if I was seeing things but it looked like BJ Upton had a little extra zip in his step.  In the Rays 4th,  BJ lined a ball to the left center gap and what seemed like before I could blink he was sliding into second.   After advancing to 3rd on a balk, Upton turned on the jets again.  With Sean Rodriguez batting, the third strike was dropped. BJ’s opportunity to show off the speed… Jays catcher JP Arencibia  looked back Upton, threw to first.   BJ took off for home, the return

With weather just like the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce ordered, Rays fans enjoy it along with some cold ones. (Photo By: Rick Sassone)

throw was late, SAFE!  Later BJ said of the play, “You’re always aggressive on the base paths and there was a lefthander at first base so I knew it would be tough for him to turn his shoulders and get the ball in, I got a pretty good jump so that’s why I went.”   I asked BJ on the double it looks like he made up his mind right out of the box to get to second, he said, “Yea ,definitely again another, another tough turn for ’em, hard hit ball it was going to be a tough play for him, I just put pressure on him to try to make that play.”

Overall there were some bright spots for the Rays but today I after watching, middle pitching needs to be a focal point to improve.  Starting pitcher Chris Bootcheck, who is in competition for a bullpen spot,  was racked by Toronto for 4 earned runs, on 5 hits in just 2 innings of work.  The rest of the Rays staff spread out 5 earn runs on 10 hits.  Two of those hits being bombs, one to left by Jose Bautista (2, off Cory Wade) and one to right by Eric Thames (2, off Dane De La Rosa) .

Listen for Tampa Bay Rays coverage on the Rocket Sports & Entertainment Network on ESPN 1040am on Saturdays 10am – 12 noon.

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