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Witnessing History at Tropicana Field

July 26, 2010

This evening I attended the Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field.  They were playing the Detroit Tigers and my friend Tom was very excited about seeing the team he grew up watching in action.

The drive over to St. Petersburg from Tampa was a breeze and we hit no traffic on the bridge over the bay.  The only time we hit a slow down was after exiting I-175 near the stadium while looking for parking which was to be expected.  Tom had bought a prepaid spot in Lot 3 and we circled the stadium looking for our space. Two police officers later we had to cut through Lot 1 and down a small side street to reach our destination.  

The stadium was right across the way and we had time to kill before the first pitch.  We decided to grab some dinner at the Batter’s Eye Restaurant and watch both teams during their pregame warm-ups.  We got a seat right at the glass and were able to watch the Rays and Tigers go through their pre-game routines while having a pretty good grilled buffalo chicken sandwich.

The time for the first pitch approached and we made it to our seats.  We had tickets for Section 122. They were a little to the right of the Ray’s dugout and offered a great view of the action.  Matt Garza was sending the Tigers back to their bench with ease when Danny Worth hit a hard line drive to right in the 3rd inning.  It looked like it was going to be a hit until Ben Zobrist leapt up and made a spectacular catch.  

As the game progressed I got a sense that something special could be happening.  It was still scoreless in the 6th when Max Scherzer fell apart and allowed the Rays to load the bases courtesy of two walks and a hit batsman.  Carlos Pena came to the plate and proceeded to strike out.  The Rays had two outs and it looked like Scherzer could get out of the inning unscathed. That changed when Matt Joyce jacked a grand slam over the right field wall giving the Rays a 4-0 lead. I had never seen a grand slam in person until that moment.

Garza then proceeded to work through the Tigers lineup without a problem for the remainder of the game.  As the final Tiger’s batter came up in the top of the 9th Tom kept talking about a no-hitter in hopes of jinxing Garza, but it did not work.  Zobrist caught the final out (a fly ball to right), and with the Rays had their first no-hitter in franchise history!  The 17,009 people who were in attendance went crazy and it was great being able to witness a piece of baseball history.

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