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



Print storySubscribe to the Times

.500 and then some

In another memorable night, Dewon Brazelton takes no-hitter into eighth to help cap climb back from 18 games below .500

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 26, 2004

photo
[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Dewon Brazelton was a bit wild, with six walks and a hit batter in 72/3 innings, but he'll take it after outdueling A.J. Burnett and helping the Devil Rays to a 2-0 win, their 14th in their past 15 games.
photo
[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Dewon Brazelton, above, watches Mike Lowell's double end his no-hit bid in the eighth inning, causing much consternation to Roger Smith, below right, and his friend Matt King.
photo
[Times photo: Lara Cerri]

ST. PETERSBURG - Getting to .500 nearly was not the Devil Rays' biggest accomplishment of the night Friday.

Dewon Brazelton came as close as any Devil Ray to the franchise's first no-hitter, blanking the world champion Marlins until Mike Lowell doubled with two outs in the eighth.

Brazelton lost the no-hitter, but the Rays won the game 2-0, thrilling an electric Tropicana Field crowd of 25,157 and evening their record at 35-35, an impressive enough achievement.

The Rays, who were 10-28 on May 19, are the first team to make it from 18 games under back to .500 since the 1899 Louisville Colonels.

"I guess we made history tonight," leftfielder Carl Crawford said. "It's a great feeling to be the only team to ever do that in modern-day baseball. But we just want to keep going forward."

The Rays have won 14 of their past 15, and their 25-7 record since May 20 is the best in the majors. They moved firmly into third place and, for those who dare to dream, within five games of AL wild card-leading Boston. Here's another ray of hope: The Marlins were 33-37 after 70 games last season, and they won the World Series.

The Tampa Bay community has been uncharacteristically abuzz over the team's success, and the excitement was obvious at the stadium, with deep lines at the windows by late afternoon (a team-record walkup sale of 7,162), a roaring ovation when the Rays took the field and a more thunderous one at end.

"That was the most enthusiastic crowd, since I've been here anyway, that rooted strictly for the home team," manager Lou Piniella said. "They were into the ballgame and all of them were Devil Rays fans. It's good to see."

Brazelton, 24, has had trouble establishing himself as a big-league pitcher since the Rays made him the third pick in the 2001 draft. He pitched so poorly last season that the Rays demoted him all the way to Class A Bakersfield to rebuild his delivery.

One year to the day later, he was almost unhittable.

Brazelton said he doesn't think much about what happened, but pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said it is obvious his hard work made a difference. "I told you guys this spring he's a different kid, he has a different mind-set, a different work ethic, and hopefully it pays off," Hernandez said.

Brazelton was called up from Triple A on June 3 and had two good outings and a bad one Saturday. The difference Friday was the ability to locate his fastball, which made his slider and changeup more effective.

"Just a tremendous effort," Piniella said.

Brazelton got to the eighth with the no-hitter thanks to some good defense, specifically by infielders Julio Lugo, Aubrey Huff and Robert Fick.

He did so despite walking six and hitting another and, as a result, didn't realize he was working on a no-hitter.

"I had so many runners on from all the walks, it really felt like people were hitting the ball," Brazelton said. "I was in the stretch a whole bunch. I wasn't really aware of it until I looked up there around the sixth inning and I thought, "They ain't got any hits.' "

He kept it that way for 72/3 innings, matching Tony Saunders' 1999 effort as the closest a Ray has come. Piniella was checking pitch-count totals with Hernandez as Brazelton got two quick outs in the eighth.

He went to a full count on Lowell, who fouled off three pitches before blasting a ball that dropped between blazing fast Crawford and centerfielder Joey Gathright and bounced over the left-centerfield wall.

Brazelton had thrown a professional career-high 125 pitches, and as soon as the ball hit the turf, catcher Toby Hall went to the mound and signaled toward the bench. Brazelton was tired, and he was having cramps in his right leg, so severe Hernandez wasn't sure he could have pitched the ninth anyway.

"He was gone," Hernandez said. "I didn't need Toby to tell me anything. The only thing we would have needed was a stretcher if he couldn't make it. He was done."

For most of the Rays, getting to .500 wasn't something to celebrate because they have higher goals, including Piniella talking about making a run at the second-place Red Sox.

"Let's just keep playing, let's not look at the standings, let's not look at the winning streak that we had," Huff said. "Let's just go out and play ball and be dumb like we have been and see what happens."

[Last modified June 26, 2004, 01:24:13]

Today's lineup
Rays
.500 and then some
Speedster startled by his rapid rise


Lightning
Lightning has new viewpoint at draft

Other sports

Baseball
  • Cubs conquer weather, Chisox
  • Rangers' Rogers spoils Beltran's debut
  • Andro ban revealed months after enactment

  • Colleges
  • Former allies meet for World Series title

  • Cycling
  • Top-notch cyclist barred from Tour

  • Golf
  • Rain delay dooms Day's shot at 50s

  • Gymnastics
  • Comeback pair is solid in trials

  • In brief
  • Tyson, King settle $100M suit

  • Little League
  • Palma Ceia minors roll to district baseball title
  • Substitutions more complex for coaches

  • Motorsports
  • Global appeal hits NASCAR
  • Pole streak continues for record-setting Gordon at Sonoma

  • NBA
  • Coleman will stay with the Broncos
  • Orlando closer to deal for McGrady

  • NHL
  • Union's stance upsets Bettman

  • Outdoors
  • Rookie gets used to different vehicle
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • Riverview shakes off slow start, doubters

  • Tennis
  • Wimbledon removes mistaken umpire
  • Ivanisevic exit delights
  • 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