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Game Preview; Friday (9/30) vs. Baltimore

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Baltimore (71-87) at Rays (67-91)
7:15; Tropicana Field
FSN Florida

PITCHING MATCHUP:

RH John Maine (2-3, 5.54)

RH Doug Waechter (5-11, 5.41)

KEY TO THE GAME:
Waechter-STOP GIVING UP THE LONG BALL!

UPCOMING GAMES:
Saturday-vs. Baltimore (Hendrickson
Sunday- vs. Baltimore (Kazmir)

RAYS LINEUP: The lineup is not currently availible at this moment to post. If someone would like to add it in the comments, more power to you, but it isn't up yet. And I promise I'm not cutting corners.

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!


Baltimore (71-87) at Rays (67-91)
7:15; Tropicana Field
FSN Florida

Now normally, you'd think I would be in a rut. The Devil Rays are about to finish with their eighth season of 70 wins or less in eight years as a franchise. They had a chance to clean up and sweep the Indians, putting me up $25, and they got shut out. Pretty bad mood right? Well, either I'm on drugs or maybe it being Friday, but I don't really feel too bad.

I knew, coming into that series, that the chances of the Devil Rays winning that series were about 5%. To even win two games was an accomplishment. Some props need to go to them, because to beat at team at the head of the wild card race, who's actually playing for something is telling. The Devil Rays, without a doubt, got Cleveland's best. And to win two of three against them, thus clinching the season series for the first time is, in my mind, a true measure of how this team stacks up talentwise.

Hell, if you throw out the first three innings of yesterday's game, we go into extra innings tied. But Casey Fossum was off, and he surrendered six runs over two innings in what was his final start of the season. But you look at everyone outside of him on the staff, and you see great plus signs. The combined bullpen work of Carter, Corcoran, Colome, and Harper did not yield one run to the Tribe, and that is scraping the bottom of the barrel. While coming back from 6-0 is hard in any inning, the Rays offense did not exactly help matters. Collectively, they laid nine eggs, mustering up only four total hits. C.C Sabathia took a bite (literally) out of the Rays' bats for eight innings, and Rafael Bentancourt wrapped up for the save.

Here's to the Indians for the rest of the season. I hope they win the AL, and at the very least knock the Red Sox or Yankees out of the playoffs.

PITCHING MATCHUP:

RH John Maine (2-3, 5.54)

RH Doug Waechter (5-11, 5.41)

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: BALTIMORE-The o's have got to have the wrost ambiance of any team in baseball. Two members of the 500 HR club (Sosa, Palmeiro) have already been sent home, Palmeiro is pointing fingers, the manager has been dismissed. And that is just in the last two months. Sam Perlozzo, the interim manager, doesn't know if this will be his final series at the helm, and Peter Angelos was quoted as saying "major personnel  changes" are in store.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, the dynamic duo of Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, who can count their "accomplishments" as giving Sidney Ponson a bloated contract, trading for a mediocre Sosa to take up space, and firing a manager to create a whipping boy.

On the field, top hitter Brian Roberts has been sidelined for the season, and the only highlight the O's have coming into this series is having already clinched fourth place. Through Thursday, the O's have been in a nose dive, losing 47 of 69, so bad that they are tied with the Royals for worst post All-Star break record. Melvin Mora continues to be the only bright spot, racking up 14 hits, four home runs, and 10 RBI in his last 40 at bats.

Who's cold? Well, how many other people are on Baltimore's roster? The Rays can tie the season series with the Orioles by sweeping the series, and with the collapse they have had, that is a very possible senario.

BREAKDOWN: I'm kind of in a rush here, so I'll be brief. Taking the mound for the black and orange is righty John Maine. Maine has struggled as of late, giving up 11 earned runs over his last 4.1 innings, though they came against two of the best AL offenses, New York and Boston. Otherwise, Maine has not given up more than three runs in any appearence since his call up in early August from AAA Ottawa, including a 2.70 ERA in the month of August.

On the mound for the Rays is Doug Waechter. If this weren't his last start of the season, you'd be seeing 'don't give up the home run ball' in his keys to the game every time he starts. Despite missing lots of time to injury, and having not been a starter all year, Waechter has given up 28 home runs this season. Gtting beyond that, he has a 7.98 ERA in his last five starts. The first three came against Boston and New York, but there is no excuse for giving up an average of five runs in six innings in his last two starts against Anaheim and Baltimnore. Let's hope the fences move out with his pitches and he does decent to end the season.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, I've got an hour to go from North County to the Trop, so I kinda need to haul ass. But I can do that without giving up too much quality. The bottom line is, Waechter needs to stop giving up the home run ball. Cliche? Yes, but it is still necessary. Because I'm lazy and rushed, that will count double today, as I can't go in depth to look at Maine. But with the problems he's had with the long ball, there are other reasons to count it twice.

KEY TO THE GAME:
Waechter-STOP GIVING UP THE LONG BALL!

UPCOMING GAMES:
Saturday-vs. Baltimore (Hendrickson
Sunday- vs. Baltimore (Kazmir)

RAYS LINEUP: The lineup is not currently availible at this moment to post. If someone would like to add it in the comments, more power to you, but it isn't up yet. And I promise I'm not cutting corners.

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!