Back in mid-June, we stated here that the upcoming month was going to have a large impact on if the Rays were buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The Rays were facing the Yanks and Red Sox 14 times in the coming month, and those games would go a long way toward determining if the Rays were still in the playoff race or not.
As R.J. noted the other day, things didn’t go so well over that month. While the Rays went 17-14 over that stretch, they ended up losing (or tying) every series against the Yanks or Red Sox, winning 5 games and losing 8. That’s a very respectable result, especially considering how close the games were and could have gone either way; three of the Rays’ loses were decided by one run or less, and the total run differential from these games was 38-43.
So as bad as this past week has felt, the Rays haven’t done half bad. They were going to need some lucky breaks to take the majority of these games from the Sox and Yanks, and that didn’t happen. They’re still in a respectable position (.536 winning percentage, 2nd place in the AL Wild Card race), but far enough back from a playoff spot that the odds are considerably against them. Such is life.
But anyway, on to last night’s game. James Shields pitched well to lead the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Yanks. Shields racked up a high pitch count after a long first few innings, but he managed to last 7.2 innings while striking out six and only walking three batters. The one run scored late in the game on a doubles by Jeter and Cano, but Brandon Gomes and Kyle Farnsworth slammed the door on the Yanks over the final 1.1 innings.
Offensively, the Rays would have had almost nothing if not for Evan Longoria; he went 2-2 with a homerun, a single that ricocheted off third base, and two walks. The Rays scored their second run off a walk by Elliot Johnson and a triple from Sam Fuld, allowing the Rays to sneak a win against C.C. Sabathia.
As weird as it may sound, I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks. The trading deadline should be interesting, as the Rays could sell off multiple pieces, and we’ll likely see more and more in the way of prospects soon. The Rays may not be in the thick of the playoff hunt anymore, but that doesn’t mean the end of the season is going to be boring. Far from it, in fact.
The Rays had their chances. David Price pitched well, only six hits over 7.1 innings with two runs. Yet after eight hits allowed and an error by New York, the Rays couldn't produce as the Yankees got away with another win.
Curtis Granderson made up for his blunders last night with an over-the-shoulder grab in center, robbing Evan Longoria of a longball while crashing into the wall, and a two run homer (on the seventh pitch of the game) that would be the only runs scored until the ninth. Longoria truly thought he'd hit a three run home run, before the Grandy grab, and walked away pulling his hair out.
Poor Granderson would get beaned in the back by Price and then caught stealing by a few steps in a strike-em-out, throw-em-out in the eighth. Longoria then lead off the bottom of the eighth with an 8-pitch strikeout. He was swinging for a homerun yet again, and the Carlos Pena imitation paid off like you thought it might. Then Matt Joyce did Matt-Joyce-after-May-like things and put on the golden sombrero with his fourth K. A groundout from B.J. Upton ended the inning.
Real Estate salesman and rookie Dane De La Rosa limited any further damage in the eight, but after one out in the ninth put two men on with back-to-back walks. Cesar Ramos retired the next bittern a ground out to the pitcher that Casey Kotchman magically caught in front of the runner (a la Albert Pujols breaking his arm danger) that let the runners advance.
Third baseman Nunez doubled the lead with a 3-2 blooper to right field to score the runners, and Mariano Rivera got his 60th save in 61 chances striking out two of three to close the game at 12 strikeouts.
This is the third time this season the Rays have been eight games back from the lead in the AL East. Game 4 of the series is tomorrow night, with CC Sabathia and James Shields on the hill. I'd call that a must-win situation.
The Rays left two men on base in the first, the third, the fifth and the seventh. Joe Maddon pointed to the ballpark as having some influence in the post game, something he's done earlier this series, also harking back to the rough start in April. The Rays are now two games below .500 in the Trop.
Andrew Friedman, Rays VP of Baseball Operation, claims the next four or five games will be "very telling" for the trade deadline. He boasted a lot of time has gone in to trade talks this season, and can't imagine nothing happening before Sunday at 4:00 pm.
This was the tenth shut out of Tampa Bay this season, the ninth since June 1. I still have faith in this team to contend, but the Red Sox and Yankees need to slow down for that to happen.
Casey Kotchman went three for four with a double. He is batting .337 this season, a second best in the American League (between Adrian Gonzales and Jose Bautista). Oh, oh it's Magic, ya know...
Tonight David Price (7-4) and the Rays host Game 3 of 4 against the New York Yankees and Freddy Garcia (7-7). Their number five starter against our ace. I like those odds. Garcia allowed five runs in his last outing, but has pitched quality starts in seven of his last eight appearances. Tampa Bay has won all four of Price's career home starts against New York. (Price: 2-0, 2.93 ERA)
The Rays dropped the first game and won the second. They stand 5.5 games behind New York in the wildcard race and 7.0 games behind Boston for the East.
Matchup: Freddy Garcia (3.43 ERA, 3.94 FIP) vs. David Price (3.73 ERA, 3.11 FIP) Game Time: 7:10 PM, Tropicana Field Television/Radio: SunSports HD, WDAE 620 AM
The Yankees are 5-5 over thier last 10 games, the Rays are 4-6. Tonight's lineup will likely be without Ben Zobrist, as he is recovering from a bruised right calf after a painful foul ball struck his leg last night.