Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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So, about that pop-up…
Posted Jul 25, 2007 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Jul 25, 2007 at 11:18 PM
BALTIMORE—Joe Maddon was rather straightforward in his assessment of the Ramon Hernandez pop-up that fell between Carl Crawford and Brendan Harris in the first inning, immediately setting the tone for another Rays loss.
“Neither one went after the ball hard enough for somebody to make a call,” he said. “I think they were assuming that the other person was going to get it, and that’s why it dropped. Both players have to go after it hard and if the outfielder can get there, the outfielder calls off the infielder.”
Maddon added: “That’s pop-up coverage 101. We have to make that play 100 out of 100 times; that wasn’t a difficult play. We have to make that play.”
The two players involved offered similar explanations.
“We just both were coming at it hard and both pulled up because we thought each other was going to get it,” said Crawford. “I thought he was going to get it and he thought I was going to get it. It’s just one of those things that happens when the ball is in between. We both kind of pulled up.”
Crawford said neither player called for the ball. Harris said he yelled out for Crawford to take it but didn’t think Crawford understood.
“I don’t think he heard what I said, so I think he thought I was calling for it,” said Harris.
Either way, said Harris, it shouldn’t have happened.
“The way things are going, we can’t let balls like that drop – especially with runners on. You’re just praying we get an easy next out, and then they get a broken bat, another run scores, and bam, right off the bat we’re down 3-0.”
You never know what would have happened if the ball had been caught, but that was the kind of failure in basic execution that—as cliched as it is—you just don’t see good teams make. Combine that with the likes of PR chief Rick Vaughn’s stat of the day—the Rays’ 13 bases-loaded walks lead the majors—and you can see why this team’s track record is what it is. At the 100-game mark, here’s how the Rays stack up with their predecessors: