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Bullpen makes its stand
Shawn Camp gets a crucial out to help preserve an exciting victory.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 22, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Appropriately on what was marketed as Superheroes Night, the Devil Rays were showing off their special powers.
There was Delmon Young throwing a speeding bullet to home plate to save a run. B.J. Upton blazing around the bases to put the Rays ahead to stay. Carl Crawford flying through the air for a diving catch that preserved the lead.
"We have those guys," manager Joe Maddon said. "Obviously a lot of big things went on out there; some big hits, some big plays."
But it was a simple ground ball out that beleaguered reliever Shawn Camp got from Jason Michaels to end the eighth that was the biggest reason the Rays ended the night with a 6-5 victory.
Having watched one lead disappear on a massive 442-foot three-run home run by super-powered Travis Hafner, the Rays 7-10 were in danger of losing another. The Indians loaded the bases with two outs without a hit as reliever Juan Salas - who continues to look good and bad in the same game - walked one and hit the next two.
Having used Brian Stokes and not wanting to use closer Al Reyes yet, Maddon turned to Camp, who had been battered in most of his seven appearances, allowing nine hits (for a .450 average) and two walks in four innings and compiling a 9.00 ERA.
Camp started Michaels ball-strike-ball, then got him to ground a sinker to third for an easy final out.
"I've been in a little rut and just trying to work myself out of it," Camp said. "A situation like that can go a long way. It's a confidence builder. My role is to come into a situation like that and get a ground ball. It went my way today, and I'll take it with the things that have been going on."
Reyes came on to work the ninth for his sixth save, getting Hafner to fly out into the 3-4 defense, with shortstop Ben Zobrist shifting to be the fourth outfielder.
After the Indians took a 2-0 lead in the second, the Rays responded with three, including a homer by Ty Wigginton, the first of his three hits. Upton, hitting .340, added a key double. The Rays expanded the lead to 5-2 with a two-out rally the next inning.
One of starter Jae Seo's problems has been inconsistency, an inability to string together several good innings, a primary reason he'd won only once in his first 19 starts for the Rays.
Given the three-run lead, he couldn't hold it, giving up a pair of one-out singles in the fifth then a massive home run by the seemingly unstoppable Hafner, whose blast hit and rattled around the D-ring catwalk that hangs over the rightfield seats, about 75 feet above the turf, to make it 5-5. Still, Seo ended up with the win.
The Indians had a chance to take the lead after a sloppy play by the Rays to open the sixth, including Young's throwing error.
But he made up for it when Kelly Shoppach tried to score on Josh Barfield's fly to medium right, and Young threw an on-the-fly strike to the plate.
The Rays broke the tie in the sixth with Upton doing most of the work. He singled, stole second, went to third on Shoppach's errant throw and scored on Zobrist's grounder.
Crawford preserved the lead with a spectacular diving catch in the seventh, robbing Hafner of a potential tying double.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8801. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.
Trolly to the Trop
The Looper will shuttle Rays fans from downtown locations to the Monday-Tuesday games vs. the Yankees.