It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again: It felt like a postseason atmosphere at the Trop the last two nights. After all, two toasty teams were pinned against one another in front of a pair of big — rambunctious — crowds. And while the Rays have aspirations of winning the AL East, the Yankees are struggling to stay relevant. Likewise, the fans the Bronx Bummers struggled to stay relevant in the confines of the Trop Saturday night, as they watched the one opportunity to tag David Price for more than two runs get flushed down the toilet.
Granted David Price wasn’t his usual dominant self for the second straight start, however I’d be hard pressed to say that he labored through his outing last night. Simply put, he’s faced a pair of teams in his last two starts — the Orioles and Yankeees — that have come up big in the batters box of late. In the end, he was able to make the big pitches to get out of a fifth inning jam with minimal damage, ultimately holding the Yankees to just the two runs in six innings, while striking out five and walking one batter. In short, it was a gritty performance that set the tone for the A-Team who followed in relief — Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney.
The trio combined for just one hit — a one out seventh inning Curtis Granderson double off McGee. McGee, however, remedied the situation by retiring the following two batters, stranding Granderson in scoring position. Rodney also looked impressive in a 1-2-3 ninth, inducing a pair of pop-outs and a groundout to cull together his 30th save of the year.
On the offensive side of things, the Rays looked DOA against Sabathia until the sixth inning when they put a crooked number on the board. In the five innings prior, Tampa Bay put all of two runners on base; Evan Longoria who reached on a first inning double (he now has 14 extra base hits over his last 16 games), and Desmond Jennings who walked in the third. However things changed (for the better) in the bottom of the inning, and it all started with a Sam Fuld leadoff single to left. That was followed by another Desmond Jennings walk, putting a pair of speedy runners on the base paths, and setting up what was next. With the 3-1 green light, Ben Zobrist plated both Fuld and Jennings on a double to centerfield. Evan Longoria was next, singling Zobrist home to give the Rays a 3-2 lead — a lead they’d never relinquish. Longoria would tag on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, on a 419 foot solo blast to center field.
The New What Next
The Rays the Rays will go for the sweep today, as Alex Cobb takes the mound against Ivan Nova. Cobb has looked good in his two starts, allowing only two earned runs in 11 innings of work. You can read about the pitching matchup here.
Rays 8/25/13 Starting Lineup
- Through June 22, Tampa Bay was in last place and 17-23 within the division. Since then, they’re 17-5 vs. the AL East and have risen to first place.
- After a miserable July, Evan Longoria has put together a rather robust .284 BA/.361 OBP/.635 SLG/.996 OPS slash line in August, with 14 extra base hits (eight doubles, and six homers) 11 runs, and 12 RBI.
- Roger Mooney of the Trib asserts, the Rays’ brutal stretch run proves a need for depth. Mooney went on to write,
Friedman expects Crain to return from a right shoulder strain next month and become a valuable arm in the back of the bullpen. He expects Young to join the team Sept. 1 and be a productive bat in an offense that can always use a little more punch. He expects the left-handed swinging DeJesus to be a big piece against right-handed pitching and become another movable piece in manager Joe Maddon’s lineup.
“We talked about it in July, our biggest focus was on augmenting our depth,” Friedman said before Friday’s win. “Essentially right now we have a 37-game season and we’re doing everything we can to put together the most talented team we can going down the stretch. The fact that we play 37 games in 38 days also factored in, something where us having as much depth as we could was important. In our minds this is arguably the deepest roster we’ve had.”