The Tampa Bay Rays came back from an early 3-0 deficit Saturday, taking the second game of their current three-game set by a score of 4-3. Roberto Hernandez FINALLY earned his fifth win of the year after giving his best David Price impersonation — That is to say, he gave up a few runs (3) in the first inning, then turned it on thereafter, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. Fernando Rodney was credited with his 22nd save of the year.
Offensively speaking, things didn’t look good early on. Dallas Keuchal retired the first ten Rays hitters in order, effectively mixing his pitches and keeping Rays hitters off balance. Sean Rodriguez finally broke through in the fourth inning and reached base on a single. But as with the game previous, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria grounded out, and the Rays failed to make anything out of it.
Meanwhile, Roberto Hernandez began to settle into a groove after the shaky three run first inning, limiting the Astros to only three base runners (on a walk and a pair of singles) after the first inning. Ultimately posting a 6.0 IP/6 H/3 R/3 ER/1 BB/6 K slash line, Hernandez finally earned win número cinco after putting together three consecutive quality starts.
Tampa Bay made their moves in the fifth and sixth innings, pushing across four runs and taking a one run lead they’d never relinquish.
Wil Myers led off the fifth inning with a single to left field. Luke Scott was next, launching a 399 foot blast to right field on a breaking ball that caught too much of the plate. Things looked glum when James Loney and Jose Molina followed by grounding out. But Yunel Escobar applied the pressure to Dallas Keuchel once again after ripping a two-out double to the left-center center gap. Then with Desmond Jennings at the plate, Escobar took a calculated risk by successfully stealing third, putting himself in prime scoring position. Jennings took advantage of the situation by sending a bunt down the first base line. Not only did he successfully run out the bunt, he plated Escobar and tied the game at three runs apiece.
Wil Myers and Luke Scott once again pieced together another two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Myers hammered a single to left field and promptly stole second base. Luke Scott followed, plating the go ahead run by mashing an RBI base-hit to right on another hanging off-speed pitch.
Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney came on in relief of Hernandez in the seventh through ninth innings, closing out the game in dominant form. The Rays late inning relievers didn’t allow a single runner to reach base, while striking out four.
The New What Next
Thanks to losses by the Red Sox and Orioles, Tampa Bay starts the day two games ahead of Baltimore, and three-and-a-half games out of first place. The Rays will look to close out the symbolic first half of the season 14 games over .500, while Chris Archer looks to post the Rays 15th consecutive quality start. Archer will butt heads with Erik Bedard, and you can read about the starting match-up here.
Rays 7/14/13 Starting Lineup
- Per Joe Smith (via Twitter) of the Times, “Jennings said he knew he was going to bunt when Keuchel threw him 3-0 curveball, with 1B playing back, was easiest way to score run.”
- According to Roger Mooney of the Trib, don’t expect the Rays to make any moves by the trade deadline.