Hardy and Arrieta talk about Sunday’s game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - I’m having my own rain delay at the Tampa airport. My 6:55 p.m. flight is now scheduled to leave at 9:30 p.m. for weather-related reasons back in Baltimore.

A storm is headed that way if it hasn’t already arrived.

I’m told that air traffic control could lift the delay, reduce it or extend it. I’m also told the bar’s still open at Chili’s Too that’s a short walk from my gate.

Here are some quotes from shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose grand slam broke open today’s game:

On the slam:
“It was good. Any time you can square a ball up like that is good. I didn’t know the last time was ‘07, but it was good.”

On whether he’s in a groove:
“I feel all right. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of cheap hits, but any hitter, any baseball player, will tell you they’ll take them.”

On taking two of three games from Tampa Bay:
“It was a big series for us, because their best players have been playing really well, and for us to come in here and get two out of three after losing the first was big for us.”

On whether the team is on a roll:
“It sounds cliché, but we play it one game at a time. When you do get on a roll like that, you get the confidence up, and I think we’re playing with good confidence right now.”

On the strong performances from the starting pitching:
“That’s where it all starts.”

Hardy is an extremely nice guy. I just don’t sense that he’s real comfortable with the media, which explains his short responses. But that’s fine. He can grunt his answers if he keeps hitting this way.

Here are some quotes from Jake Arrieta, who turned in the rotation’s sixth consecutive quality start:

On his outing:
“Overall, it was good up until the sixth inning, I kind of took myself out of the game with those two walks. I’m not upset about it, but that’s kind of what I’ll dwell on for the next day or so. I’ve got a six-run lead, I got to go out there and fill the zone up. If they get a hit, so what?”

On the rotation:
“I think with each quality outing everybody builds confidence and wants to follow suit. We all want to do the same thing. That’s kind of the competitive nature with this team. Everyone is starting to pull their weight and it’s a good feeling. If everyone takes cares of themselves and holds themselves accountable, we’re going to come out on top a lot. That’s a good sign and I think that’s a huge series, especially here in Tampa against a quality team that’s leading the division.”

On what it meant for team morale after the Rays swept the Orioles in Baltimore:
“It’s huge. We know how good of a team they are. We know how good of a team we are. It seems like we’re all starting to play up to our ability level and play consistent baseball, so in order to get to where we want to go, we have to do that. I think if we continue to do this throughout the near future, it’s going to become pretty common. Games like this, the past two games, aren’t going to become like, ‘Wow’. It’s just going to be, ‘OK, we’ve done that before.’ It’s just going to be another game. I think we’re going to start to play a lot of consistent baseball, and that’s a good feeling.”

So is a flight that leaves on time. Too bad I won’t know what that feels like tonight.

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