Rays Take Series Opener Against White Sox

David Price and the Rays redeemed themselves after their embarrassing performance in Chicago a week and a half ago.

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Rays Beat White Sox: Price Dominant, Fuld Sharp

The expected pitching duel quickly turned into a calm strikeout tutorial as the Rays grabbed the lead early and David Price stymied the White Sox hitters. The Rays jumped on Edwin Jackson early, putting 3 runs on the board in the 1st inning, even though Jackson ended the evening well, going 7 innings while allowing 4 earned runs on 11 hits, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.

The rag tag Rays offense collected a pair of homer against the White Sox, with Ben Zobrist homering in the off Edwin Jackson in the first and Felipe Lopez tagging a Matt Thornton pitch in the eighth. On the basepaths, Matt Joyce added his second steal of the season, while Sam Fuld was caught stealing for the third consecutive attempt. Fuld made up for his miscue, however, executing another impressive, diving catch and going 4 for 4 with a double in the lead off spot tonight.

Felipe Lopez and Matt Joyce also put together impressive, multi-hit nights. Lopez, hitting in the cleanup spot again, went 3 for 4 with a double and a homer.

However, the story tonight was largely about David Price, who conquered White Sox hitters through 8 innings, striking out 9, walking 2, and allowing only 4 hits. In total, Price threw 98 pitches and never faced any real threats it seemed.

The Rays will be in action again tomorrow night, taking on the White Sox at Tropicana Field. Game time is slotted for 6:40 p.m. ET.

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Picture: Rays Lead White Sox Early, Sam Fuld With Another Amazing Catch

The Tampa Bay Rays took advantage of some missed location for Chicago White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, scoring 3 runs in the first inning. The inning featured a mix of both small and big ball, going: Sam Fuld single, Elliot Johnson sac bunt, Matt Joyce pop out, Felipe Lopez RBI single, and then a Ben Zobrist homer -- his second in the last three games.

Jackson's counterpart, David Price, has been transcendent meanwhile, completing the first 8 innings while compiling 9 strikeouts and allowing 2 walks and 4 hits (lowering Price's early season ERA to the high 2s from where it was in the beginning of the game, the high 3s).

The Rays have also impressed with their defense. Ben Zobrist made a nifty dive in right field, and Sam Fuld added another diving snag to his highlight reel collection. Fuld, playing center field for the resting B.J. Upton, came in on a low line drive, closing quickly and diving deftly:

Sam-fuld-diving-catch_medium

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Tampa Bay Rays Vs. Chicago White Sox: Kotchman In, Damon Out

Casey Kotchman will be getting the start at first base today, giving Dan Johnson another day of rest. Johnson has been stellar with his glove lately and has been improving with the bat also, so this benching is more likely for Kotchman’s sake than Johnson’s, he figures to be back tomorrow (or utilized later tonight as a pinch hitter).

Johnny Damon, who was hit by a pitch in the hand yesterday and removed from the game, is also not in the lineup. Felipe Lopez takes his place at the DH position. B.J. Upton is also getting a day of rest, giving Sam Fuld a look at center field while Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce handle the corners.

In the infield, Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson will man the middle as Sean Rodriguez takes another hack at third base, where’s he has looked pretty strong defensively.

It is hard to look at this lineup, featuring many recent-AAA players and reserves, and feel a little concerned at the Rays run-scoring potential against the tough right-handed Edwin Jackson.

The lineup, courtesy of Marc Topkin:

Sam Fuld CF
Elliot Johnson 2B
Matt Joyce LF
Felipe Lopez DH
Ben Zobrist RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Sean Rodriguez 3B
John Jaso C
Reid Brignac SS

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Rays, White Sox Open Series With David Price, Edwin Jackson Rematch

One week ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were leaving Chicago in the midst of a horrible slide. They'd just lost three out of four games to the Sox, narrowly avoiding a sweep thanks to a few timely ninth inning errors by the Sox on Saturday. They were 1-8, their offense was nonexistent, Manny Ramirez had suddenly retired, and they were entering a tough series against the Boston Red Sox. Not to be melodramatic, but it was one bleak Monday mornings for Rays fans.

And now, one week later, the Rays have breathed life into their season. They went 5-1 last week, sweeping Boston in a two-game series and taking three out of four from the Twins, and they're only 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the division lead. The White Sox are now coming to St. Petersburg, and the Rays get a chance to redeem themselves.

Monday night's game features a rematch from earlier this season: David Price (3.92 ERA, 3.69 FIP) versus Edwin Jackson (2.89 ERA, 2.31 FIP). Price has not been his dominating self in his three starts this season, only striking out 12 batters in 20 innings pitched, but he's still generating plenty of swinging strikes (10.8% whiff rate) so his results should improve going forward. He allowed nine hits in six innings last time against the White Sox while only striking out two.

The last time the Rays faced Edwin Jackson, they had a miserable offensive game, managing only four hits against him while striking out 13 times. Jackson pounded the zone against the Rays, getting ahead in counts and punching them out with his slider. If the Rays are going to have a better showing against Jackson, they'll need to be aggressive on pitches over the plate and look for his slider late in counts.

Tonight's game kicks off at 6:40 PM.

For more coverage of the Rays, follow SB Nation's blog on the Tampa Bay Rays, DRaysBay.

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