Gross family rewarded for keeping seats for Rays win

ST. PETERSBURG — Gabe Gross had a reason to want to get Sunday's game over.

His parents and 78-year-old grandmother had spent the weekend in town but told him they might leave during the game to get a head start on the six-hour drive back to their home in Dothan, Ala.

So after Gross hit a walkoff homer to lead off the 10th inning, did the TV and radio interviews and got the shaving cream facial from Rocco Baldelli, he was pleasantly surprised on his way back to the clubhouse to see his father, and the rest of the family, in the hallway.

"That's pretty special they got to be here," Gross said. "They said they were going to stay depending on the game and how long it was lasting. But at the same time, I know my dad, and if there was any chance I would still be in the game and the game was in doubt he wasn't going anywhere. But I didn't know for sure they were still here until I saw him out in the hallway. That was just kind of nice."

The two shared a few moments, and a few tears. Lee Gross, who played four years in the NFL, was Gabe's youth league coach in all sports, "and he's been a mental coach to me ever since then and every part of the way, and we were just kind of sharing a moment together. … If you know our family very much, you know we're a bunch of criers."

About the only thing Gross didn't do right Sunday was flipping off his helmet before he got to home plate, where his teammates gave him the typical raucous reception.

"I made the bad mistake I guess a lot of guys make of tossing the helmet," Gross said. "That's just not smart at all. You got to keep that sucker on, give you some protection. But it was a beating well worth taking."

MR. MAY: Not only were Scott Kazmir's five May wins a team record for any month, so was his 1.22 ERA, bettering Julio Santana's 1.43 from August 1998. Kazmir's .172 opponents average was best among all major-league qualifiers (one inning for each team game), and his 1.22 ERA was bettered by only Cleveland's Aaron Laffey.

Kazmir has a shot to be the first Ray to win an AL pitcher or player of the month award, which will be announced today.

HOT AND COLD: Since coming off the disabled list, RHP Al Reyes has had eight scoreless outings and allowed one hit, a bunt single in the eighth inning Sunday, lowering his ERA to 3.55. … RHP Andy Sonnanstine allowed 10 hits in 52/3 innings, the sixth straight start he has given up eight or more. Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn't concerned, and Sonnanstine said he thinks it's a matter of throwing too many strikes and not enough pitches off the plate.

AND ON THE SEVENTH DAY: LF Carl Crawford was out of the lineup so he'd get another two-day break with the team off today, though he went in as a defensive replacement in the eighth and made a diving catch. … C Dioner Navarro, 1-for-10 in the first three games of the series to drop his average to .352, was also off. "Just watching him, I just wanted to give him a day," Maddon said. "I don't want to push him too hard right now."

BLACK SUNDAY: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was irate after the game with his team's lack of offense and promised major changes. "It can be me, it can be (hitting coach) Greg Walker, it can be the players, anybody," he said. "I'm sick and tired of watching this."

MISCELLANY: Thursday's game in Boston was moved up an hour to 6:05 p.m. to avoid conflict with the Celtics' NBA Finals opener that night. … OF prospect Desmond Jennings, who had been out with back and shoulder injuries, made a smashing season debut Sunday, homering to open the game for Class A Vero Beach. … Potential top draft pick SS Tim Beckham's Griffin High team lost in the Georgia AAAA state finals over the weekend; he hit .667 for the postseason.

Gross family rewarded for keeping seats for Rays win 06/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 3, 2008 2:34pm]

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