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Johnny Damon Ties Club Record, Matusz Doesn't Last Two Innings

With a Lead-off homerun Johnny Damon reached base for the 37th consecutive time to tie the Rays club record set by Ben Grieve in May of 2001. Every day he extend the record will be his career best, and if he does so again Monday the Rays will have a new name in the books.

The First Inning

That was just the start of a text book first inning run by the Rays where all nine batters would make it to the plate. After Damon's homerun, Zobrist and Ruggiano would single to put men on first and third. Longoria sac flied Zobrist in for the first out. 

B.J. Upton then singled to put men on first and second. After a coaching visit to the mound for Brian Matusz, Ruggiano stole third and Upton stole second. Sean Rodriguez singled Ruggy home and (deja vu) men were back on first and second. The Rays then pulled a double steal and I started feeling sorry for Matusz... almost. The Rays had the stopwatches ready in the dugout and noticed the recovering Matusz's slow delivery early. 

Casey Kotchman popped out to shallow second with CF, SS and 2B converging. J.J. Hardy came up with the over-the-shoulder-catch in a near collision and things were looking better for the O's. Elliot Johnson walked the bases loaded, but Kelly Shoppach flew out and the Rays lead 3-0.

Then Wade Davis took the mound... A roller made it past the knee-braced Elliot Johnson before the Rays got a double play at first for two easy outs. Davis then gave up consecutive solo shots over the wall to Adam Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. The curse of the homerun brings the score close again, 3-2.

The Second Inning

Johnny Damon came back to the plate to try to reach the elusive 500 doubles mark but walked instead. Not record breaking, but I'll take it. He was then caught stealing on a bang-bang play that should have gone to the runner and Joe Maddon came out to argue (to no avail). Damon didn't seem upset, but according to the replay he certainly should have been. The Rays proceeded to load the bases on two walks and a single and Brian Matusz was pulled after 80 pitches and 1.1 innings. Ouch.

Upton then towered a fly ball to the left field wall and was feet from a grand slam, but the Rays settled with a sac fly. A ground out ended the top of the inning before Davis returned to the mound to get two strikeouts over three outs. Rays lead 4-2. Nice.

The Third Inning

Casey Kotchman made it around to third on a double and a ground out moved him over. He had an opportunity to take home plate on a wild pitch but stayed at third thinking it was a foul ball. This could have been very frustrating had Damon not singled him in. To get on base safely, Damon hustled hard and beat the throw letting Kotchman score. Kelly Shoppach had walked the at bat previously. Shoppach attempted to advance on another wild pitch, this time by Alfredo Simon. Catcher Craig Tatum got the ball to Mark Reynolds in time. Shoppach tried to stop early and hop over the tag, but no one was fooled. Ben Zobrist then uncharacteristically struck out and the Rays took the field.

After two easy outs and two strikes Davis gave up a towering double to Adam Jones in the right-center gap. He tried to advance on Zobrist's throw and the ball took a short hop to ricochet off Evan Longoria's glove on the Sean Rodriguez relay. Wade Davis was there to back up Longo but the ball flew into the stands allowing Jones to advance home. 

The Fourth - Sixth

The score remains quiet at 5-3. Davis has allowed six hits through six innings and collected three strikeouts thus far and will likely pitch the seventh.

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