St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
The Trop
The Trop
Getting to the Trop
Best routes
Rays forum
The art of pitching
Devil Rays' official home site
Talk baseball in our Devil Rays forum

printer version

Fans get in their gripes while Rays just keep winning

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- The fans came with questions, a letter requesting the manager's resignation and various ideas aimed at helping the Rays become a winner.

General manager Chuck LaMar sat at a table beside Hal McRae and listened.

He answered. And he attempted to give the season ticket holders gathered Saturday at Tropicana Field a reason to keep believing.

"We knew it was going to be an uphill battle with the personnel and the payroll that we have," LaMar told the group a few hours before the Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-3 before 13,351. "This coming year we're going to be developing young players, we're going to go out and make some moves.

"I truly think it's going to be a year or two before you see a tremendous turn in the wins and losses. ... But over the next year or two I think it's still going to be a building process."

That process, if it goes as planned, could include more encouraging stretches like the one the Rays are experiencing.

More than five months after they began the season by sweeping the Tigers and 101 losses later, the Rays have won three consecutive and five of six and could finish the home schedule with a sweep of the Blue Jays today.

"This is a good stretch," McRae said. "But the key to this stretch, and I'm talking from experience, is don't give it all back.

"If we play terrible next week and next weekend (in New York and Boston) you feel like you really haven't accomplished anything. But this is a good feeling, to feel like you're going to win every night regardless of what happens."

Rookie Carl Crawford's double in the eighth was the winner. Travis Phelps and Lance Carter pitched four scoreless innings of relief.

Carter has pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings.

"We are definitely playing better," rightfielder Ben Grieve said. "The season is kind of over so I don't think momentum matters much right now. But it's never too late to put something together."

The Blue Jays took a 3-0 lead in the third after two Rays errors.

First it was starter Joe Kennedy, who allowed a Ken Huckaby ground ball to pass between his legs for his 10th error of the season. Then Rays centerfielder Randy Winn and leftfielder Crawford both called for a fly ball, with Crawford dropping it.

The next batter, Vernon Wells, hit a 1-and-2 pitch over the left-centerfield wall. "I just left a curveball in the middle of the plate and he hit it out," said Kennedy, who entered with a 4-0 career record against the Blue Jays.

The left-hander lasted five innings but threw 96 pitches. He allowed three unearned runs on four hits, striking out three and walking one.

"They put the bat on the ball," Kennedy said. "They didn't make it easy for me. Every batter that came up to the plate I felt like I threw about 12 or 15 pitches to."

As Phelps and Carter kept Toronto in check, the Rays didn't figure out Blue Jays starter Pete Walker until the seventh and eighth. Toby Hall tied the score at 3 in the seventh with a double, and Crawford put the Rays ahead 4-3 in the eighth with his double to left off Felix Heredia.

"Hopefully we can keep some smiles around here," Crawford said.

Whose smiles will be around next season?

The Rays of 2003 could have a decidedly different feel than what fans will see for the final time today.

The pitching staff could be overhauled depending on the outcome of arbitration cases involving Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Wilson, Ryan Rupe and Esteban Yan. Winn and first baseman Steve Cox also are arbitration eligible.

Veteran catcher John Flaherty and pitcher Wilson Alvarez are free agents, and designated hitter Greg Vaughn could be traded during the offseason.

LaMar will meet with McRae, whose contract runs through the 2003 season, while the team is in New York this week.

"We're going to sit down and go through the entire organization and evaluate where we are," he said. "We have to get better. We know we're still young. We're still going to struggle at times, but we have to get better.

"It's his job and it's my job to make us better."

Back to the Rays
Today's lineup

  • Fans get in their gripes while Rays just keep winning
  • All-Star OF Winn named team MVP
  • Rays cut Nash loose
  • Blame falling on McRae
  • Regression has club bracing for overhaul
  • Rays tales

  • Bucs
  • Taming the beast
  • Defense feels pressure to rush Warner

  • Lightning
  • Boyle defends scoring ability
  • Prospect watch
  • Lightning returns to last year's form in loss

  • Other sports

    College football
  • Quick recovery
  • Rix puts on display in easy ACC win
  • College football: Spartans WR ties NCAA record
  • Bowden: Franks can lead Duke to elite
  • Florida State: By the numbers
  • 'Derby offense' pays dividends for FSU
  • Around the state
  • This time, Hurricanes need no last-minute aid
  • 'Canes LBs lack favorable matchups
  • Big East: Panthers win league opener
  • Big 12: Va. Tech grinds out win against Texas A&M
  • Pac-10: Ground attack sparks floundering CU
  • ACC: Injured Hollings' three rushing TDs rally Yellow Jackets past BYU
  • C-USA: Bearcats lose to Buckeyes late
  • Around the Nation: Nevada has rarity: a winning streak
  • Big Ten: MSU rallies, then loses to ND
  • Vols quotebook
  • Gator quotebook
  • SEC: Georgia gets feel-good rout of Northwestern St.
  • Maligned Gators D gains confidence
  • Gators benefit from earlier experiences
  • Florida: By the numbers

  • Golf
  • Making Koreans proud
  • Huston can't get it going in his title defense
  • Solid play cheers up Weekley
  • Ryder Cup hostilities cast aside
  • Europe puts heat on U.S.
  • The Ryder Cup format
  • Woods has others shaking their heads

  • Tennis
  • Blake caps U.S. win in Davis Cup doubles

  • NFL
  • Niners offense goes south
  • NFL preview
  • Riley puts heat on Jets for Miami

  • Running
  • Teacher wins 5K event in Race for the Cure

  • Baseball
  • AL: Practice pays off as Myers lifts A's
  • Surprise, surprise: Yanks clinch
  • NL: Giants keep hold on wild card
  • Comiskey fan planned attack on coach, prosecutor says
  • Saves king ready for mark to fall

  • Motorsports
  • Wallace hopes to end losing streak at Dover
  • Rudd where he wants to be

  • Et cetera
  • Highs & lows
  • Sports briefs

  • Preps
  • Win makes believers out of Cougars
  • Berkeley reaches final but can't slow Plant
  • Sickles girls, King boys finish on top
  • Area teams now favorites

  • Letters
  • Ryder Cup should omit Tiger from future teams
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

     Devil Rays Forums
    From The Wire
  • Players, teams start rush to settle in arbitration
  • AP source: Yankees sign free agent RHP Kuroda
  • AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap
  • Resop, Pirates agree to a one-year deal
  • Zambrano says he's happy with trade to Marlins
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week