• The Tropicana Showdown

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (18)

    The stage is set! Via the Tampa Tribune -

    The calendar says end of July, but this weekend’s showdown between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees at Tropicana Field will have a pennant race feel.

    All three games of the series have sold out, the Rays said Thursday, marking the first time the club has sold out three consecutive games.

    “I think it’s going to be very intense, and we always welcome that,” first baseman Carlos Pena said after driving in all four runs for the Rays in Thursday’s 4-2 victory against the Detroit Tigers. “Who doesn’t love playing in front of big crowds? That’s really a dream right there. When you have a packed house, you cannot even hear yourself talk.”

    The Rays (63-38) swept the Tigers and have won six in a row to stay two games behind the Yankees (65-36) in the American League East.

    Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon reiterated the Rays’ philosophy of not giving any game or series more weight than another, but admitted he’s looking forward to the big-game atmosphere.

    “I’m sure there’s going to be quite a vibe,” he said. “I just think whenever we get our full house in here, our guys feel it, and it’s kind of fun for everybody. We just played up there (dropping two of three at Yankee Stadium); I thought it was an interesting series right after the All-Star break. They’re still playing well, we’re playing well; I think it will be interesting.”

    The Rays and Yankees have split their eight games this year, with Tampa Bay holding a 3-2 advantage at Yankee Stadium. This will be New York’s first visit to the Trop since taking two out of three April 9-11.

    I have to confess, this series is a high-point in the season for me. It has the feel of one of those late season Yankees-Red Sox series in Fenway during 1977-78. It’s going to be a litmus test, if you ask me. And, I am very anxious to see how both teams respond during these games.

    Comments on The Tropicana Showdown

    1. clintfsu813
      July 30th, 2010 | 8:24 am

      Heres hoping we take the drama out of it and win at least 2 outta 3 handedly. Especially on Saturday ;)

    2. Raf
      July 30th, 2010 | 8:30 am

      I wonder what the percentage of Rays to Yankees fans will be :)

    3. July 30th, 2010 | 8:33 am

      @ Raf: I was thinking the same thing. Betcha it’s at least 50/50. And, I wonder if there will be as many fights in the stands as there was back in the day when the Yankees and Red Sox used to meet at the Stadium (pre 2004).

    4. MJ Recanati
      July 30th, 2010 | 8:57 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      has the feel of one of those late season Yankees-Red Sox series in Fenway during 1977-78.

      Really? Wow, not for me. The Rays have no personality whatsoever. They’re a totally dull team.

      Those ’77-’78 Sox teams had Rice and Fisk and Spaceman Lee…I could see the hype for those games. This, to me, is just a three-game series against a good team but totally absent of the hatred and the drama and the subplots.

    5. July 30th, 2010 | 9:19 am

      I expect the Rays to be really up for these games – and to run wild on the bases. They’re going to come right out jabbing and crossing. If they Yankees come out of the chute on their heels, they’re going to get a bloody nose in this series, and quick.

    6. Raf
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:23 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      And, I wonder if there will be as many fights in the stands as there was back in the day when the Yankees and Red Sox used to meet at the Stadium (pre 2004).

      I doubt it, it’s a different breed of fan nowadays. I also don’t think that the respective fan bases care about each other for it to come to that.

      If anything, this’ll probably be like the Seattle “rivalry” a little while back, where the M’s fanbase cared more than the Yankees’ fanbase.

    7. MJ Recanati
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:25 am

      Raf wrote:

      If anything, this’ll probably be like the Seattle “rivalry” a little while back, where the M’s fanbase cared more than the Yankees’ fanbase.

      Agreed.

      And frankly, Seattle actually had a fan base. Tampa barely gets half the place filled on a regular night so fans down there certainly don’t have the same edge to them or even a demonstrable interest in baseball.

    8. Raf
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:25 am

      Also, that final push could be Rays fans, it could be more Yankees fans, it could be people coming out hoping to see Rodriguez hit #600.

    9. G.I. Joey
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:28 am

      Too much hype in my opinion.

    10. clintfsu813
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:58 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      And frankly, Seattle actually had a fan base. Tampa barely gets half the place filled on a regular night so fans down there certainly don’t have the same edge to them or even a demonstrable interest in baseball.

      This is very true. EVERY game I’ve ever seen at that dump is at least 65% Yankee fans. Its glorious. The “Lets.Go.Yankees” chant is deafening at times and feels like a home game.

      I’ll be in Left Center for the first time, usually I sit behind the Yanks BP down 3rd base line. Hoping to catch that moneyball!

    11. clintfsu813
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:59 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I expect the Rays to be really up for these games – and to run wild on the bases. They’re going to come right out jabbing and crossing. If they Yankees come out of the chute on their heels, they’re going to get a bloody nose in this series, and quick.

      They werent up for the other series’ that we took 2/3 in?

    12. July 30th, 2010 | 10:17 am

      clintfsu813 wrote:

      They werent up for the other series’ that we took 2/3 in?

      Careful, remember this game:
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA201007160.shtml

      That could have gone either way. And, then it would have been the Rays taking 2 of 3.

    13. clintfsu813
      July 30th, 2010 | 10:47 am

      I see your point, but so could have the game between Price/Pettitte recently. Our BP shut them down while we laid it to Price. That game should have gone to them, but It didnt. I just think we’re a better team, and I hope we continue to show that this weekend.

    14. Evan3457
      July 30th, 2010 | 2:30 pm

      Tonight’s game is the key.

      Hughes has strugglied lately, but Davis has pitched much better lately. According to something I read, a scout said he’s learning to trust his fastball more. I hope he trusts his fastball vs. the Yanks.

      The Rays have the edge in the pitching matchup tomorrow (Vazquez vs. Garza), although a pitcher coming off a no-hitter is usually due for a down game.

      The Yanks have the edge in the finale (CC vs. Shields). So, as I say, tonight’s game is the key.

      Rays are red-hot again (8 in a row, 19 of 25). Yanks have played well lately, also, but with some real cluker games in the midst of it (17-5 in their last 22). Rays have gained 2 games this week, but the Yanks have gained 1 1/2 during their 22 game hot streak.

      The Rays want to run wild? The key to stopping the running game is always this: you can’t steal 1st base.

    15. July 30th, 2010 | 2:57 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Tonight’s game is the key.

      I fully expect the Rays to run so much on Hughes tonight that he loses his composure and wets himself. If he pitches more than 5 innings and allows less than 4 run, I will be very surprised.

    16. MJ Recanati
      July 30th, 2010 | 3:29 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The Rays have the edge in the pitching matchup tomorrow (Vazquez vs. Garza), although a pitcher coming off a no-hitter is usually due for a down game.

      Matt Garza: .273 BABIP / 4.06 ERA vs. 4.52 FIP (4.45 xFIP)
      Javier Vazquez: .255 BABIP / 4.54 ERA vs 4.92 FIP (4.63 xFIP)

      Whatever edge Garza has comes from plus velocity but, for whatever reason, Garza’s K-rate is down and he’s serving up HR’s at a similar rate to Vazquez.

      In other words, I don’t see the huge edge between the two pitchers. I’d pick Garza over Vazquez because he’s younger but he’s not all that much better.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The Rays want to run wild? The key to stopping the running game is always this: you can’t steal 1st base.

      Agreed. Also, FWIW, the Rays can’t hardly be the only team to want to run wild on the Yanks. The playbook against the Yanks is to run aggressively on them because Posada/Cervelli don’t throw runners out. Thus, I’m not too worried about this because it’s not like the Rays are going to do something that other teams don’t already know about.

      The Yanks are taking two out of three this weekend. Mark it down.

    17. MJ Recanati
      July 30th, 2010 | 9:09 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I fully expect the Rays to run so much on Hughes tonight that he loses his composure and wets himself. If he pitches more than 5 innings and allows less than 4 run, I will be very surprised.

      You must be surprised then.

    18. August 1st, 2010 | 5:24 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yanks are taking two out of three this weekend. Mark it down.

      Remind me not to let you place any bets for me.

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