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July 30, 2008 at 8:04 am ET
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Counting Down To 70…. 62

Last night’s 3-0 victory over the Blue Jays marks win #62 for our 2008 Devil Rays, highlighted by Eric “Shitske” Hinske’s 100th career home run, an inside-the-parker over highly overrated Toronto ace Roy “Billie” Halladay.  Which brings us a step closer on our countdown….

The Devil Rays franchise record for victories in a season is set to fall sometime next week. While some would rather pretend the first 10 years of Devil Ray baseball never happened, we here at Bugs & Cranks have always seen them for what they truly were…. A Prelude To Dynasty.

With every win until the record falls, we’ll look back and commemorate the accomplishments and sacrifices of those proud, heroic Devil Rays who made this historic season possible. We continue with a look back at every 62nd win in the history of Devil Ray baseball, and try to determine which was the greatest of all….

62nd Win Immortals: Canseco, Hall, Kazmir, Baldelli.

September 19, 1998 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 7, Blue Jays 5. In front of another fervent crowd of 35,689 devoted fans, our Devil Rays continue to put the dagger in Toronto’s playoff hopes, handing the Jays their 5th defeat in their first 5 visits to The Trop. The Blue Jays take the lead in the fourth with a mammoth 2-run home run by Jose Canseco, his 44th of the year. Trailing 5-3, our Devil Rays rally in the 8th. A Fred McGriff RBI single cuts the lead to one. With two on and one out, Bubba Trammel pinch-hits for Paul Sorrento, and delivers a 3-run homer.

September 9, 1999 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 5, Tigers 3. Our Devil Rays were trailing 2-1 in the 5th inning, when Jose Canseco came to the plate with two outs and two on. Canseco hadn’t had an extra-base hit since he went on the disabled list in July, but he came through with his 32nd home run of the year. Despite hitting 3 Tigers, starter Rolando Arrojo picked up his 3rd win of the year. Roberto Hernandez closed the game for his 39th save, putting him third in the majors, behind only Mariano Rivera (40) and John Wetteland (41). The win gives the Devil Rays the season series against Detroit, and keeps them two back of Baltimore for fourth place in the East.

September 22, 2000 – SkyDome. Devil Rays 3, Toronto 2. In his first big league start, Toby Hall opened the scoring in the 5th with his first career home run. The late Cory Lidle got the win, giving up only 2 runs, both unearned, over 6 innings — not bad considering he had to sleep in the baggage claim at the Indianapolis airport two nights earlier after leaving the team to visit his wife in Vegas. In the 7th, Randy Winn and Greg Vaughn drove in runs to put our Devil Rays ahead for good. Roberto “No Mas” Hernandez earned his 30th save with a little defensive help from The Crime Dog Fred McGriff and John Flaherty, who combined to nail Tony Batista trying to score from third on a grounder to first. Jays manager Jim Fergosi, with his squad trailing but still alive in both the division and wild card races, was ejected for arguing the call.

October 6, 2001 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 5, Yankees 2. In the sixth inning, shortstop Chris Gomez turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead with one swing of the bat. A third-straight win over the Yankees kept our Devil Rays one game ahead of the Pirates for the 29th-best record in the majors. Toby Hall’s single in the 7th tacked on the last 2 runs. Devil Rays starter Tanyon Sturtze earned his 11th win, and Esteban Yan closed things out for his 22nd save.

September 27, 2003 – Tropicana Field. Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 4. The Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but our Devil Rays responded with a 4-run bottom of the first to retake the lead. Aubrey Huff tied the Devil Rays RBI record (106), and Rocco Baldelli broke Miguel Cairo’s Devil Rays rookie steals record (27). Devil Rays all-star representative Lance Carter earned his 25th save. Travis Lee’s 3rd-inning home run off Jeff Suppan held up as the winning run, and Chad Gaudin earned his second win of the season with 4+ scoreless innings in relief.

September 14, 2004 – Fenway Park. Devil Rays 5, Boston 2. Scott Kazmir’s 5th career start was his first time going more than 5 innings, and came in Fenway Park against a Red Sox team clinging to its lead in the Wild Card race. And he was facing long-time Devil Rays nemesis Pedro Martinez. Carl Crawford led off the game with a home run. Then in the second, Kazmir worked his way out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam. Rocco Baldelli added another home run in the second to give Kaz a 2-0 lead to work with. Aubrey Huff and Jose Cruz added RBI singles in the 7th. Kazmir finished 6 innings allowing only 6 baserunners and no runs, while striking out 9. Our Devil Rays held on to hand Pedro his first loss against our Devil Rays in 14 meetings, going back to May 2000. After the game, Pedro complimented Kazmir — sort of, “You have to tip your cap and give credit to the little rookie that came out and pitched well and battled.”

September 18, 2005 – Camden Yards. Devil Rays 6, Baltimore 5. Joey Gathright took over the game with his speed in the 8th inning. He turned a routine groundball into an infield hit, and then even though the Orioles had called a pitchout, he still stole second and went on to third when catcher Sal Fasano’s throw went into center. Then on a wild pitch that bounced directly back to the catcher, he managed to still score — he was timed at 3.3 seconds from third to home. (Gathright was later traded for one of the best players on this year’s Devil Rays, J. P. Howell. Exiled to Kansas City, Gathright is best known for his ability to jump over things.) Third baseman Alex Gonzalez and Carl Crawford each had 3 hits.

September 15, 2007 – Safeco Field. Devil Rays 6, Seattle 2. Facing a Mariners squad that still had an outside chance at the Wild Card, Scott Kazmir struck out 11, won his 4th straight start and 13th of the season. And he tied Victor Zambrano’s career Devil Ray record of 35 victories. Carl Crawford and Jonny Gomes each had 4-hit games. Crawford also stole his 50th base of the season. The win was an important milestone of progress as the 2006 squad had only won 61 games.

***

Here’s how I would rank them, though it’s certainly up for debate and I look forward to your always insightful comments:

  1. 2004 rookie Kazmir schools Pedro and the Sox
  2. 2007 Kazmir ties franchise record in Seattle
  3. 2001 Chris Gomez 3-run homer makes 3 straight wins against the Yankees.
  4. 2000 Comeback win in Toronto helps end Jays season
  5. 1998 Bubba Trammel puts one of the final nails in the Blue Jays coffin
  6. 1999 Jose Canseco’s 32nd homer beats the Tigers
  7. 2005 Joey Gathright runs wild in Balmer
  8. 2003 One-run win over the Red Sox

Previously on Counting Down To 70….

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7 Responses to “Counting Down To 70…. 62”
  1. AlexF says:

    Did you even watch the game? it wasn’t an inside the park homerun

  2. And you’re insane if you think Roy Halladay is over-rated. He is exactly the opposite. The Jays have only scored 13 runs in his 8 losses this year. If he played for a team that could score runs he’d have 2-3 Cy Young Awards (and would have won it in ’04 when the come-backer broke his shin, so lets call it 3).

  3. Glen says:

    Innings pitched: 167.1 – First in ML
    ERA: 2.85 – 8th in ML
    CG: 7 – First in ML
    K: 141 – 4th in ML

    Right. Overrated.

  4. Nato says:

    Cito Sucks!

    Kill the Blow Jays!

  5. FrankDiscussion says:

    If anything Halladay is underrated, just more uninspired drivel from Chalk.

  6. I should really stop calling him Shitske. He does something inspired every time I do.

  7. David Chalk David Chalk says:

    If Billie Halladay is so good, why hasn’t he ever made it to the playoffs? How many days have his teams spent in first place since he’s been there? Until then, definitely overrated.

    (And, ya, Shitske’s homer was eventually ruled a traditional home run, but there was confusion at first and he ran around the bases at top speed, so I think he deserves a little extra credit.)

    And our Devil Rays are now 3-0 against this so-called ace, and 6-3 against the rest of the crappy pitchers the Blue Jays trot out.

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