|2010 Tampa Bay Rays|
|American League East Champions|
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Andrew Friedman (de facto)|
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Tampa Bay Rays Radio Network (English)|
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The Tampa Bay Rays' 2010 season was their 13th season of baseball. They improved on their 84-78 record from 2009 by finishing the regular season 96-66, and qualifying for the postseason for the second time in history by winning their second AL East division championship in three years.
Second baseman Akinori Iwamura was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for relief pitcher Jesse Chavez on November 3, 2009. Iwamura had a $4.85 million option for 2010, but with several other players in the organization who could fill the position, the Rays decided to part ways with Iwamura by trading him. Andrew Friedman, the Rays' Vice President of Baseball Operations, stated that it was "tough to put into words" what "Aki" meant to the Rays, who had been with the team since the 2006 season, and was the player who recorded the final out in the 2008 American League Championship Series that sent the Rays to their first World Series.
On November 9, 2009, the Rays chose to exercise the 2010 option of left fielder Carl Crawford, worth $10 million, but declined the options of relief pitcher Brian Shouse and catcher Gregg Zaun that would have been worth $2 million each.
The Rays had been in talks with the Chicago Cubs to send Pat Burrell to Chicago in exchange for Milton Bradley. Both players would make the same amount of money in 2010, but while Burrell would be at the end of his contract following the conclusion of the season, Bradley was owed $13 million in 2011, a price the Rays were not willing to take on all of. Unable to make an agreement on how to split the cost, the Cubs eventually sent Bradley to the Seattle Mariners on December 18, 2009.
First baseman Dan Johnson was signed to a $500,000 contract for one year on January 11. Johnson, who played the 2009 season in Japan's Central League, was regarded as a hero for the Rays in the 2008 season for a game-tying solo home run in the 9th inning of a game in early September against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Rays, who needed a win that night to keep their division lead over Boston, went on to do just that.
Relief pitcher J. P. Howell, starting pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett all signed one-year contracts to avoid salary arbitration. Only center fielder B. J. Upton went to salary arbitration, though he did state he was interested in a long-term deal with the Rays. Upton's arbitration case was held on February 12. He asked for $3.3 million, but the case was awarded to the Rays, meaning he would make $3 million instead.
On February 3, 2010, the Rays signed reliever Mike Ekstrom, recently waived by the San Diego Padres, to a minor-league contract and placed him on the 40-man roster. Catcher Alvin Colina and reliever Heath Phillips were also signed to minor-league contracts and invited to spring training.
One day after the end of the 2008 season, the Rays let hitting coach Steve Henderson go. Quality assurance coach Todd Greene would not return either, as the position was eliminated.Derek Shelton was hired as the team's new hitting coach on October 21. Shelton had been with the Cleveland Indians in the previous five seasons.
On February 3, the Rays announced a naming deal with fertilizer manufacturer The Mosaic Company for Charlotte County Stadium, their spring training facility, changing its name to Mosaic Field at Charlotte Sports Park. However, after public opposition to this deal was made known, the plans were "deferred", and the stadium would continue to be known as Charlotte Sports Park.
Rocco Baldelli returned to the Rays on March 2 as a "special assistant" who would work with younger players. Baldelli stated that he hurt his shoulder in the previous season playing for the Boston Red Sox that may require surgery, and though he felt uncomfortable going into Spring training, he was "not ready to retire" and was hopeful to play again some day. Andrew Friedman, the Rays' Vice President of Baseball Operations, said that the one-year deal was not done with the intention of bringing Baldelli back as a player in 2010, but also said that "anything's possible."
Infielder Hank Blalock was signed to a minor-league contract on March 8. Blalock was first reported to be interested in signing with either the Rays or the Florida Marlins just days before the deal was made.
Catcher Dioner Navarro injured his left leg on March 20 during a game against the Minnesota Twins, after Twins outfielder Jacque Jones collided with him at the plate. Navarro was reported to be in serious pain and had to be carted off the field. Later that day it was announced that Navarro suffered a bruised nerve. The Rays said that the injury was not bad enough that it would cause Navarro to miss opening day.
The Rays finished Spring training with a team record 20 wins, and had the highest win percentage of all teams in the league.
On April 6, during the Rays' first game of the season, Evan Longoria hit a home run that landed in the left field upper deck seating of Tropicana Field. In doing so, Longoria became just the second player to hit a home run that landed in that upper deck section without hitting one of the stadium's catwalks, the first player being Vinny Castilla on April 4, 2001. Longoria's home run was also estimated to have gone 473 feet, making it the third longest home run in the stadium's history, behind a 474-foot home run by Jonny Gomes on July 9, 2005, and the aforementioned home run by Castilla, which traveled 478 feet.
The Rays began the season with a 10-3 record, their best start in franchise history. At one point in the first two weeks of the season, the Rays won seven consecutive games, all on the road. Included in this win streak was their first series sweep of more than two games against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Catcher Dioner Nivarro was given a two-game suspension on April 27 because of an on-field incident with umpire Dan Bellino that took place during a game on April 23. Navarro was ejected from that game by Bellino for arguing balls and strikes in the 6th inning, but before leaving the field, Navarro bumped chests with the umpire.
At the end of the month the Rays held the best record in the league at 17-6, and had a 1½ game lead in the division. The 17-6 record was the best in franchise history for the month of April, as well as the best April in league history since the New York Yankees went 21-6 in the 2003 season.
Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history against the Rays on May 9, the second time in less than a year that the Rays had been on the losing end of perfection. The first occurred on July 23, 2009, when Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox did not allow a single Rays batter to reach base, which was also the most recent perfect game pitched prior to Braden's. The Los Angeles Dodgers had been the only other franchise to be the losing team of consecutive perfect games pitched in the majors. No team who had a perfect game pitched against them had a higher winning percentage than the Rays did, who entered the game with a league-best 22-8 record.
On May 15, Pat Burrell was designated for assignment after another struggling start to the season. He would later clear waivers and become a free agent. The Rays called up Hank Blalock to replace him on the roster. Blalock's minor league contract included an out clause that his agent Scott Boras stated he would activate within the next week, which would force the Rays to either promote him or let him become a free agent. However Andrew Friedman, Executive Vice President of the Rays, said that this was not a factor in the decision to bring him up.
Having already missed the start of the season, relief pitcher J. P. Howell threw in a simulated game, but was forced to stop after only 12 pitches. After being examined by the Rays' head athletic trainer, manager Joe Maddon talked to reporters saying that Howell had a "definite setback." On May 19 it was announced that Howell underwent surgery on his left shoulder, and would miss the entire 2010 season.
Shortstop Jason Bartlett suffered a "mild" right hamstring strain during a game on May 29 as he attempted to field a ground ball hit into center field. He was reported as day-to-day, expected to miss at least the next game. A few days later it was revealed that there was a chance he would be placed on the disabled list, and on June 3, that was the decision made.
The Rays went 17-12 in May, improving their league-best record to 34-18, and held a 2½ game division lead.
In the 2010 MLB draft, the Rays used their first selection (17th overall) on Josh Sale, an outfielder out of Bishop Blanchet High School, located in Seattle, Washington. His signing was officially announced by the team on the morning of August 17.
Outfielder Gabe Kapler was put on the disabled list on June 12 for a hip flexor strain. Justin Ruggiano was called up to take the open spot on the roster. Ruggiano wouldn't stay long however, being sent back down when Jason Bartlett was activated from the disabled list on June 15.
On June 12, Carlos Peña hit a home run for the sixth consecutive game. This broke the team record for homers in consecutive games, set by Jose Canseco, who went deep in five straight games during the 1999 season. Peña's streak was snapped the next day, going hitless in four at-bats. Peña had been struggling throughout the season offensively, and some called for him to be benched as recently as the week prior.
Dioner Navarro was optioned to triple-A Durham on June 24. Left fielder Carl Crawford was removed from that day's game with soreness in his shoulder and reported as day-to-day, so outfielder Matt Joyce was called up to take the open spot on the roster.
On June 25, the Rays were once again unable to record a base hit in a game, this time in a 1-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitcher who threw the no-hitter was Edwin Jackson, who spent four seasons with the Rays until being traded after the 2008 season. This was the third no-hitter pitched against the Rays in less than a year, however unlike the previous two, this was not a perfect game, as 10 batters reached base by virtue of a walk, error, or hit by pitch. The Rays became the first team to be no-hit twice in the same season since the San Diego Padres in 2001.
Once Gabe Kapler was able to be activated from the disabled list, the Rays needed to make a cut on June 29. Hank Blalock was chosen to be designated for assignment. Manager Joe Maddon praised Blalock for his work ethic, professionalism, and the impact he had in the clubhouse, but said there just weren't enough opportunities for him with the team.
In the month of June, the Rays went 11-14. Dropping to 45-32 overall at the end of the month, they entered July two games behind the division lead.
On July 4, three Rays were selected to play for the American League in the 2010 MLB All-Star Game on July 13. Left fielder Carl Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria were both named starters by way of fan vote, while pitcher David Price was elected by the players. This was Crawford's fourth selection to the Midsummer Classic, Longoria's third, and Price's first. All three became the first Rays to be starting players in the All-Star Game. Price was named the starting pitcher for the American League the day before the game.Jose Canseco would have been the first in 1999, but missed out due to an injury. Longoria had the opportunity in 2009, but also had to withdraw due to an injury. Closer Rafael Soriano was added to the roster on July 6, his first-ever selection, giving the Rays four all-stars. Soriano replaced New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera after it was announced that Rivera would not play because of injuries. Soriano was picked by having the next-highest total of votes on the players' ballot.
At the All-Star Break, the Rays had a 54-34 record, were second in the AL East, and two games behind first. They led the AL wild card race by three games.
Rocco Baldelli signed a minor-league contract with the Rays on July 19. There was speculation prior to the season that Baldelli would return to the Rays as a player when he returned to the organization as a "special assistant". His first game was on the same day of the signing, having been assigned to class-A Charlotte. He has been expected to spend several weeks in the minors before a possible call-up to the Rays.
On July 26, the Rays were the winning team in a no-hitter for a change, as Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in team history in a 5-0 win over the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field in front of an announced crowd of 17,009. Throwing 120 pitches, Garza faced the minimum 27 batters, allowing only one to reach base on a walk in the second inning.
Posting a 19-7 record for the month of July, the Rays finished the month with an overall record of 64-39. Though they were two games behind for the division lead, they led the wild card by 5½ games.
Jeremy Hellickson, one of the Rays' best pitching prospects, made his major league debut on August 2 against the Minnesota Twins. He posted a 12-3 record and 2.45 ERA in triple-A before being called up. To make room for him on the roster, Andy Sonnanstine was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 23. In his debut, Hellickson pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits and retired the first ten batters he faced, ending up as the winning pitcher. His stay in the majors lasted only that night however, as expected when it was first reported that he would make his first career start. Following the game, he was optioned back down to triple-A, in favor of position player Dan Johnson. In triple-A, Johnson was hitting .303 with 30 home runs and 95 RBIs.
First baseman Carlos Peña was placed on the disabled list on August 6, retroactive to August 1. On July 31, Peña was removed from a game with what was initially described as a foot injury and had not played since. The reason for his placement on the DL was reported as a partial tear of the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of his foot. Relief pitcher Dale Thayer was recalled to fill the vacated roster spot.
David Price won his 15th game of the season on August 9, surpassing the franchise record for wins in a single season. The previous record of 14 wins was shared by Rolando Arrojo, James Shields and Edwin Jackson. Arrojo set the record in the club's inaugural season, while Shields and Jackson tied the record in 2008.
Starting pitchers Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis were both placed on the 15-day disabled list on August 9 for shoulder strains. The move allowed Jeremy Hellickson to be added back to the roster, as well as relief pitcher Mike Ekstrom.
On August 27, the Rays signed outfielder Brad Hawpe to a minor league contract and assigned him to class-A Charlotte. He was called up to the Rays on August 31, making him playoff eligible. To make room for him, pitcher Andy Sonnanstine was sent down to class-A Hudson Valley, though he will not have to remain there long, as a player can be recalled before the mandatory 10 days if the team's season ends before then, and Hudson Valley's season ends September 4.
At the end of August, the Rays were 81-51, having gone 17-12 during the month. They trailed the New York Yankees for the division lead by a single game, though the two teams had been tied for first place in each of the previous eight days. However the Rays were still in position to make the playoffs heading into the last full month of the regular season, leading the Boston Red Sox in the wild card by seven games.
On the first of September, Rocco Baldelli, Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings and Dioner Navarro were all called up as a result of roster expansions, with Dale Thayer being sent down. Also, relief pitcher Grant Balfour was activated from the disabled list that day.
Closer Rafael Soriano recorded his 44th save on September 24, setting a new franchise record for saves in a single season. The previous record was held by Roberto Hernández, who saved 43 games in 1999.
On the final day of the regular season, the AL East was still up for grabs with both the Rays and New York Yankees tied for first place. For the Rays to clinch the division, they needed either a win, or a loss by the Yankees. When all was said and done, both happened, as the Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox prior to the Rays defeating the Kansas City Royals in extra innings. In September and October combined, the Rays split 30 games, going 15-15. They finished the regular season 96-66, winning the division by a single game, and finishing one win shy of their franchise record set in 2008. The Rays also had home field advantage through the American League side of the postseason.
In the ALDS, the Rays face the Texas Rangers. The Rangers finished the regular season with a 90-72 record, and won the AL West division championship to clinch their first postseason berth since 1999. In the regular season, the Rays were 4-2 against the Rangers.
The series opened at Tropicana Field for Game 1, with the Rays sending out 19-game winner David Price against Cliff Lee of the Rangers. The Rays put pressure on Lee in the 1st inning by loading the bases, but they would not plate a run after a controversial strikeout by Carlos Peña and another strikeout by Rocco Baldelli to end the inning. In the 2nd inning, the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead after RBIs from Jeff Francoeur and Bengie Molina. In the 3rd and 4th innings, Price would yield solo home runs to Nelson Cruz and Molina, respectively, which put Texas up 4-0. The Rangers added to their lead in the 5th when Vladimir Guerrero doubled off the wall in center field, which scored Josh Hamilton from 2nd base to make it 5-0. The Rays got on the board in the 7th inning when Ben Zobrist hit a solo home run to right-center. However it would be the Rays' only run of the game, as the Rangers went on to win 5-1.
In Game 2, it was James Shields who got the start against C. J. Wilson. With runners on the corners in the 3rd inning, Shields went to 1st base for a pickoff attempt, but the throw over was errant, allowing the runner to score from 3rd base. Ian Kinsler launched a solo homer to left in the 4th, putting Texas up 2-0. In the 5th, Shields was removed from the game with two on and one out, being replaced by Chad Qualls to face Michael Young. With a 2-2 count, Young checked his swing on a pitch that was called a ball. The Rays appealed to first base umpire Jerry Meals, but Meals ruled that Young held up in time, drawing the ire of the Rays dugout. Replays showed that Young may not have checked in time, and had the ruling been made that he did not, it would have resulted in a strikeout. Instead, Young went deep to center on the very next pitch for a 3-run home run, putting the Rangers up 5-0. Rays manager Joe Maddon went out to the mound to talk to his pitcher after the home run, but began arguing with home plate umpire Jim Wolf about the check swing, which led to Wolf ejecting Maddon from the game. Texas added another run in the 6th inning, and held the Rays scoreless, winning 6-0 and taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The series shifted to Texas at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 3. It was a low-scoring affair for most of the game. Texas struck first when Mitch Moreland scored on a groundout in the 3rd inning. The Rays stranded two baserunners in both the 4th and 5th innings, but tied the game in the 6th inning after an RBI double by B. J. Upton. Ian Kinsler put the Rangers back ahead 2-1 with a solo shot to left field in the 7th. An RBI single by Carlos Peña in the 8th scored a run from 2nd base to even the score again, and after a walk, John Jaso singled to center, bringing Peña home and giving the Rays a 3-2 lead. Carl Crawford and Peña both had home runs in the 9th inning to give the Rays a more comfortable 6-2 lead. Despite giving up a solo homer to Nelson Cruz, Rays closer Rafael Soriano was effective in the bottom of the 9th, and the Rays staved off elimination with a 6-3 victory.
Offensively, in Game 4 the Rays picked up right where they left off the previous day. Carlos Peña tripled to left-center field in the 2nd inning, and scored on an error by Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler, who misplayed a pop fly beyond the infield. Evan Longoria, who was inactive for the last several games of the regular season, had a huge game, starting with a leadoff double in the 4th inning. The next batter was Peña, who hit a double of his own to the opposite field, bringing Longoria home and giving the Rays a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, another double came off the bat of B. J. Upton, putting the Rays up 3-0. Rangers starter Tommy Hunter did not come out to pitch the 5th inning. Derek Holland was sent in for relief, but Tampa Bay added to their lead when Longoria blasted a 2-run homer to left, making it 5-0. Texas had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th, but Rays starter Wade Davis got Vladimir Guererro to swing and miss for a strikeout to end the threat. The Rangers did score in the 6th inning, as Nelson Cruz led off with a home run, and Mitch Moreland hit an RBI double with two outs off of Rays reliever Grant Balfour to make cut the Tampa Bay lead to three runs. It was the only scoring Texas would do in the game, as Rafael Soriano entered the game in the 9th inning and picked up the save. The Rays took the game 5-2 to force a decisive Game 5 back home at the Trop. In Game 5, however Cliff Lee was dominant. He outdueled David Price in a 5-2 victory to help the Rangers advance to their first ever American League Championship Series
|Tampa Bay Rays||96||66||0.593||--||49-32||47-34|
|New York Yankees||95||67||0.586||1||52-29||43-38|
|Boston Red Sox||89||73||0.549||7||46-35||43-38|
|Toronto Blue Jays||85||77||0.525||11||45-33||40-44|
|Bold||Rays team member|
Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; R = Runs scored; H = Hits; 2B = Doubles; 3B = Triples; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in; AVG = Batting average; SB = Stolen bases
|B. J. Upton||154||536||89||127||38||4||18||62||.237||42|
Note: W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; G = Games pitched; GS = Games started; SV = Saves; IP = Innings pitched; H = Hits allowed; R = Runs allowed; ER = Earned runs allowed; BB = Walks allowed; K = Strikeouts
|AAA||Durham Bulls||International League||Charlie Montoyo|
|AA||Montgomery Biscuits||Southern League||Billy Gardner, Jr.|
|A||Charlotte Stone Crabs||Florida State League||Jim Morrison|
|A||Bowling Green Hot Rods||Midwest League||Brady Williams|
|A-Short Season||Hudson Valley Renegades||New York-Penn League||Jared Sandberg|
|Rookie||Princeton Rays||Appalachian League||Mike Johns|
|Rookie||GCL Rays||Gulf Coast League||Joe Alvarez|