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April 18, 2006
Umps on guard as Sox, Rays renew hostilities
The St. Petersburg Times reports that the umpiring crew for this week's series between the Sox and Tampa Bay has been given a "heads-up" to be on the lookout for any potential trouble between the two teams. Another chapter in the book of hostilities between the A.L. East rivals was written in a spring-training game, when Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez slugged Rays outfielder Joey Gathright after Gathright slid into Tavarez on a play at home plate. Gathright told the Times that he's ready for some abuse from the Fenway faithful when he plays the field tonight, while Carl Crawford -- the Tampa Bay star who has been involved in some past trouble with the Sox -- predicts nothing but business when play starts.
One thing the Devil Rays-Red Sox rivalry has not been: even. The Sox are 88-44 all-time against Tampa Bay, including 47-19 at Fenway Park, where they have won the last six in a row against the Rays.
After sweeping Kansas City over the weekend, the Devil Rays enter this series 7-6 on the young season. It's the first time they've had a winning record through 13 games since the franchise's inaugural season of 1998. They face a rough ride for the next week and a half: a 10-day, 9-game road swing against the Red Sox, Rangers and Yankees -- in that odd travel order.
Tampa Bay has compiled its respectable record despite being only 10th in the American League in batting (.263), and 13th in earned-run average (5.84). They have six players on the disabled list -- most notably outfielders Aubrey Huff and Rocco Baldelli; shortstop Julio Lugo; and starting pitcher Mark Hendrickson.
The team is getting good production so far out of outfielder Jonny Gomes (.300 batting average, 5 home runs) and journeyman third baseman Ty Wigginton (.293 batting average, 5 home runs).
Posted by Mike McDermott at 3:00 PM | Permalink
Loretta joins small home-run fraternity
According to today's Red Sox game notes, Mark Loretta yesterday became the 11th player to make his first Red Sox home run a walk-off job. The others: Rico Brogna (2000, vs. Tampa Bay), Bill Haselman (1995, vs. Toronto), Kevin Romine (1988, vs. Kansas City), Wade Boggs (1982, vs. Detroit), Orlando Cepeda (1973, vs. the Yankees), Mickey Owen (1954, vs. Baltimore), Roy Partee (1944, vs. the Yankees), Jack Wilson (1935, vs. the Washington Senators), Moose Salters (1934, vs. the Washington Senators), and Jimmy Barrett (1907, vs. the Philadelphia Athletics).
Posted by Mike McDermott at 2:46 PM | Permalink