In the series preview, I wrote, “They’ve (the Twins) averaged almost five runs per game over the last 15 games, while the pitching has given up (on average) almost six. This bodes well for the swarming offense of the Tampa Bay Rays.” I’m not calling myself Nostradamus or anything, but it does emphasize that the Rays 7-4 win against the Twins Monday night is par for the course, for what Minnesota has done over their last 15 games. That’s not to belittle Tampa Bay in any way, shape, or form. Rather, it should show that the Rays are doing exactly what they need to be doing in the pre All-Star Break stretch.
In short, a marginally good Roberto Hernandez was somehow able to hold a productive Minnesota Twins to only three runs, after allowing 12 base runners on eight hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch. He certainly didn’t put together the sharpest of outings, though he was able to post his third consecutive quality start — the starting rotations eighth consecutive quality start over all. You can read a blow by blow account of the game via the X-Rays Spex Tumblr page. Bulleted highlights are below.
- First off, Allie Kranick of DRaysBay said it best, “The Rays notched their 50th win last night, in their 90th game, the third fastest time they have done so in franchise history. The only two times they have reached 50 faster? 2008 and 2010, both years that they won the AL East. Yes, the division is a very different beast this year, so who knows if it really matters; but you can’t hate history.”
- It should also be noted, the Rays now own sole possession of second place in the AL East. Think back to June 23rd when they owned sole possession of last place. Sure, a good number of those wins have come against the bottom feeders of the American League. But I’d also remind you that five of those 12 wins have come against over .500 teams, or teams that are division leaders (Yankees, Blue Jays, and Tigers).
- The Rays offense struck first, thanks to a 414 foot solo shot off the bat of Luke Scott in the first inning. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the second, when Jose Molina slapped an RBI single to right, plating Wil Myers.
- The Twins took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, but Evan Longoria was able to knot things up in the fifth on an RBI single to center.
- Yunel Escobar sent a 403 ft solo blast to left-field to lead off the seventh inning, and Desmond Jennings followed with a triple to the gap. Ben Zobrist joined in on the fun, sending a two-run shot 369 feet to left field giving the Rays a 6-3 lead.
- Escobar put the Rays up by a score of 7-3 after plating an insurance run in the eighth inning. Chris Parmelee literally gunned down Myers at the plate, hitting him in the chest with the ball as he safely slid into home after tagging up.
- The Rays have outhomered their opponents 38-22 in the past 31 games. Yunel Escobar hit the Rays 100th home run last night.
- The bullpen was pretty dominant in relief of Hernandez. Alex Torres, Joel Peralta, Jamey Wright and Fernando Rodney allowed only two hits and one run (all from Jamey Wright) in the three innings of combined work. Rodney was credited with his 20th save of the year.
- I’m, admittedly, enamored by Alex Torres. Can you blame me? He strung together yet another 1-2-3 inning, this time on 13 pitches (10 for strikes). He was also credited with his third win of the year. Let’s take a gander at his season slash line: 25 IP/6 H/1 R/1 ER/8 BB/31 K. I’d reckon a (almost) 4:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks is pretty alright.
The New What Next
Chris Archer will try to keep the ball rolling against Kyle Gibson and the Twins, Tuesday night at the Trop. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 7/9/12 Starting Lineup
- Ever wonder who the anonymous guy catching all of the Rays bullpen sessions may be? Roger Mooney of the Trib wants to introduce you to the man, the myth, the legend, Scott Cursi.
- Wil Myers isn’t in the lineup tonight. Matt Joyce is getting the start in right-field, while Kelly Johnson will hold things down in left. Myers noted that this is just a mental day off, allowing him to “catch my breath” and work on small flaw in his swing.