Tampa Bay finally did it! They beat the Red Sox at Fenway, Wednesday night, after five failed attempts. In a well pitched game by Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays held the Sox to only two runs, while thumping them for six. I’ll spare you the droll game summary. Still want to read about what happened and how? Head to our Tumblr page, where we live blogged the game.
Facing a team on the slide (Editors note: similar to the slide pictured above. That is to say, it’s not been pretty) can act as a catalyst for another, especially when the presumptive wins come at the hands of the Yankees. Both New York and Tampa Bay have run into an impenetrable brick walls of late. The Yankees have won four of their last ten games, while the Rays have won only two.
But if ever there was a time to romp up on the Evil Empire, it’s now — though both teams have fallen in the the East, the Rays have a chance to leap-frog the third place Yankees with a series win. Furthermore, even when taking the underperformance of the Rays into consideration, Tampa Bay has outscored the Yankees by 16 runs over a 15 day span. This isn’t to imply that Tampa Bay has a series win in the bag. Matt Moore hasn’t been very good of late, Colome and Archer are still largely unproven at this level, Hernandez is only now stringing together quality starts, and the offense has fallen off. What’s more, the Rays haven’t been able to put teams away with two outs, a problem that’s hampered them since the beginning of the season.
Andy Pettitte: Per Rotowire, “Pettitte gave up four runs on 11 hits and a walk with four strikeouts over seven innings against the Angels on Friday.” The Rays last faced (and beat) Pettitte in April, in a shutout victory in which the veteran lefty gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings of work. You may recall that Sean Rodriguez took Pettitte deep on a sixth inning solo shot, giving Tampa Bay an insurance run. Regardless of the win, only a few Rays have had any success against Pettitte. You can imagine that Thursday night’s game promises to be another one of those games, where the Rays will need to pounce on the few scoring opportunities they may get. That’s especially true when you consider that Pettitte has given up three runs per game, on average. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (3-8, 2B, 3 RBI, BB), Kelly Johnson (2-7), Sean Rodriguez (3-7, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 BB), Ben Zobrist (9-22, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB).
David Phelps: Per Rotowire, “Phelps allowed four runs over six innings and was the losing pitcher Saturday against the Angels.” David Phelps got the win in a 9-4 game loss at the hands of the Yankees in May. Phelps got hammered for five runs (four earned) in his next start against the Mets, a game where he lasted only a third of an inning. He has straightened it out — in a manner of speaking — in his last three starts, including a pair of games where he gave up only a run or fewer. He has posted good numbers against Tampa Bay, though that’s over a ver small sample size; 59 combined at-bats. Key match-ups: Matt Joyce (2-6, 2B, RBI), James Loney (2-7, 2B, RBI), Ben Zobrist (3-8, 2 2B, RBI, BB).
CC Sabathia: Per Rotowire, “Sabathia picked up the win Sunday by allowing just two earned runs and five hits over eight innings against the Angels. He struck out six.” Grimmace’s up and down season continues. He had an up start Sunday, and we’re all aware of the fair number of downs the Rays have handed him the last few years. If history is an indicator of anything, the Rays could walk away with a big win Saturday. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (9-28, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB), Sam Fuld (2-7, 3B, 2 RBI), Kelly Johnson (5-15), Jose Lobaton (3-8, 2 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (16-45, 3 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 11 BB), Sean Rodriguez (11-33, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB).
- Matt Moore has struggled over his last three starts, and he’s trying to avoid losing a career high fourth consecutive game Thursday night. That said, Vernon Wells and Jayson Nix are a combined 2 for 22 against Moore, while Vernon Wells is 6-for-56 in 16 games this month.
- Andy Pettitte is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his last four home starts and also has struggled against the Rays lately, going 1-3 with a 5.04 ERA over a five-start stretch.
- New York and Tampa Bay have split six meetings this season – all at Tropicana Field. The Rays haven’t won any of their last eight series in the Bronx.
- Uber prospect Wil Myers is now 2-for-12 in his first three games, though he came up huge Wednesday night with a two-RBI double to right field. I still contend, he’s better than Vogt.
- Jose Molina is 5-for-his-last-6 with a run scored?! Pinch me! That still doesn’t make up for his inability to move behind the plate.
- Yunel Escobar is 3-for-23 after hitting over .300 to start June.
- James Loney snapped his 0-for-20 stretch Wednesday night after going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.