It feels great to be a Rays fan at the moment for many reasons. 1) The Rays went 7-2 on this nine game home stand. 2) Not only did they beat one of the highest scoring teams in baseball in three games (that’s called a sweep for the unaware) mind you, but they did so in grand fashion; by destroying the Red Sox 21-8 over the course of three games. 3) The Rays find themselves 3.5 games out in the wildcard race. 4) The Rays could pick up another half game tomorrow on the first game of an 11 game road trip which finds them in Baltimore for three games, Boston for four games, and New York for four games. 5) Did I mention that they beat the crap out of, neigh…demoralized the Boston Red Sox? 6) The Red Sox limped out of St. Petersburg having won only one game out of their last 10 games.
Let’s recap the game a bit before we move ahead. First on the docket: pitching. “Big Game” James Shields, again, had a good day on the mound. Not only was he able to get out of a second inning jam which found the bases loaded, but he lasted 8.1 innings and only gave up one run (earned) on seven hits, while striking out six and walking three. Dane De La Rosa came on in relief of Shields with one out in the ninth, quickly struck out Lavarnway, and got Scutaro to pop out to left to end the game. Scutaro, incidentally, scored the only run for the Red Sox on a one run home run to left center in the third.
Next up: the offense. The Rays scored nine runs on 12 hits including a 451 foot grand slam/blast off of the bat of BJ Upton in the bottom of the fifth, the first of his career. The Rays struck early by scoring three runs in the first and never looked back. Upton was the unspoken hero at the plate going four for four with a walk, three runs, and four RBI’s. Desmond Jennings, Johnny Damon, Evan Longoria, Casey Kotchman, and Jose Lobaton each scored runs as well. In a drastic departure from the Rays of earlier in the year, all of the Rays hitters reached base safely, something they are going to need to continue doing if they are going to continue chasing their post season dreams.
What’s up next for the Rays? The gauntlet part three, an 11 game road trip (as mentioned above) that finds them going up against the Orioles who still cannot be discounted, the Red Sox for four games in Fenway, and the Yankees for four games at Yankee Stadium which includes a double header on the 21st. The Rays are going to have to keep on keepin’ on. That is to say they are going to have to keep up with their winning ways. They can again make up some serious ground against the Red Sox, but the margin for error is very slim. Remember kiddies, they have got to play .700 or better baseball.
It’s also been reported that Kyle Farnsworth will get the next few days off to rest his ailing elbow. Here’s to hope that it’s only a minor issue of of exhaustion, and he’ll be back to form in a few days. To compensate for the loss, the Rays have promoted uber prospect Matt Moore (and his 100 MPH fastball) from AAA Durham. Moore has gone 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA since getting called up from AA Birmingham earlier in the year. Moore will presumably fill a similar roll to that of David Price when he got called up in 2008.
The excitement has risen to fever pitch, and I for one could not be more excited! As always, Go Rays!