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Johnny Damon, Rays Beat Marlins 7-4

The Rays (38-33) pushed around the Florida Marlins (32-28) for their second straight Citrus Series win. The Rays have now crept to back within 4.5 games of the AL East lead, and 3 games withing the Yankees who lead the Wild Card race.

Johnny Damon made history on the night, going 2 for 3 with 2 walks, hitting his 500th double to lead off the Rays offense. Damon now joins the selective company of hitters who have each hit 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 2.500 hits -- a list that includes Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Willy Mays, and Stan Musial.

However, though Damon's feat puts him in a selective of company of Hall of Famers, he has joined this group as a runt, not a thoroughbred. Of the 11 other players to join this fraternity, only Robin Yount has a lower on-base plus slugging (OPS), and he played in a more difficult run environment (the 1970s and 80s). Babe Ruth (206 OPS+) and Stan Musial (159+) dominated pitchers in their day, but Johnny Damon (105 OPS+) holds the distinction of merely surviving.

OPS+ is a statistic that normalizes for the run environment. In other words, a 206 OPS+ from Ruth means he was 106% above league average, while Damon was merely 5% above league average with a 105 OPS+.

Getting the win tonight, Alex Cobb (2-0) pitched efficiently and effectively, going 6 and 1/3 innings, allowing two runs. The bullpen did not dominate tonight, but fortunately they did not need to as the Rays held a wide lead early and consistently.

Notes from the game:

  • Casey Kotchman, Ben Zobrist, and Reid Brignac all had good nights tonight, each of them doubling and altogether going a combined 5 for 9 with 3 walks and steal. Strong production from the infield like this allows the Rays to remain competitive while Evan Longoria continues to look for his stroke.
  • In the 6th inning, the Rays scored 2 unearned runs on a Greg Dobbs error, a pop up which pushed just wide of his glove. The Rays had a fielding gaff of their own when John Jaso tossed the ball into center field on a steal from Emilio Bonifacio.
  • The Rays schedule has them finishing their first series with the Marlins tomorrow at 1:40 p.m. ET.

Final - 6.18.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Florida Marlins 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 4 5 2
Tampa Bay Rays 1 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 X 7 8 1
WP: Alex Cobb (2 - 0)
SV: Joel Peralta (1)
LP: Ricky Nolasco (4 - 3)

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Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.