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Rays Hit 5 Home Runs Against CC Sabathia, Win Game 5-1

As a wise man once said, “Baseball is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Or to put it another way, what the heck just happened out there?

This is the first time in CC Sabathia’s career that he’s allowed five home runs in one game. It also makes him only the second third pitcher in MLB to allow that many homers in one game this season. The other pitchers? Sean O’Sullivan (6.92 ERA) and the newly retired (?) Carlos Zambrano (4.82 ERA). Sabathia tied the Yankee record for most home runs allowed in one game (Live Ball Era edition), yet he still last seven innings and kept the Rays from scoring otherwise.

And if all this wasn’t weird enough, the hitters responsible for the home runs were a motley crew: Casey Kotchman, Kelly Shoppach, Johnny Damon, Elliot Johnson, and Evan Longoria. This was about as unpredictable a game as you could imagine.

On the other side of the ball, David Price pitched one of his best games in a long time. He lasted eight full innings, only allowed eight baserunners (six hits, two walks) and one run while striking out four. He finally seemed to realize that he couldn’t succeed by merely blowing his fastball by hitters, and he started mixing in his changeup, curveball, and slider (cutter? slutter?) earlier and with more regularity. In fact, he only threw his fastball 58% of the time tonight, compared with past starts where that percentage has been somewhere near 80%.

Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come from Price. Even though he only struck out a handful of batters, I’m impressed that he managed to contain the Yankees regardless. Now if only he could remember to pitch this way against other teams…

Game Notes:

  • This win moves the Rays to only 7.5 games out in the Wild Card, the closest they’ve been since July 29th (h/t Marc Topkin). With Sabathia out of the way, the Rays now have to face Phil Hughes (5.01 FIP) and Freddy Garcia (3.63 FIP). Watch the offense get no-hit tomorrow. Watch.
  • Desmond Jennings had a rough day at the plate today — possibly his worst day yet in the majors — but he managed to make a nifty little sliding catch in the seventh inning to get the Rays out of the inning.
  • Speaking of defense, Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez combined for an impressive relay throw in the fourth inning to nab Nick Swisher at the plate, preventing the Yankees from scoring two runs and maintaining the Rays’ two run lead.

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