The Rays walked into the Trop last night having won six out of their last ten games, including two out of three in their last series against the Orioles. They walked away with sole ownership of second place in the East, only a half game out of the second wildcard spot. With the win, Tampa Bay is now six games over .500, with a 56-50 record. The pitching staff was able to dish out their fourth shutout in six games. It may not have been the prettiest win, however a win is a win is a win. Powered by the pitching staff and the defense behind them, The Rays took game one of the three game set against the O’s, 2-0. Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- You could call the Zobrist sandwich, with Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena hitting 3-4-5 in the lineup, a success. Joyce (1-3, single, walk) and Zobrist (2-3, two singles) each reached base safely twice. They set up a potentially big sixth inning on a walk and a single, bringing Pena to the plate. Pena hit the ball deep to center, but was robbed of extra bases, and a pair of runs batted in, by Adam Jones who made an excellent catch to send ‘Los back to the dugout.
- BJ Upton (1-4, homer) hit his 100th career homer. Upton put the Rays ahead on a fourth-inning 425 foot blast to center off Tommy Hunter (4-7). Upton joins Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, Lloyd Moseby, Eric Davis and Hanley Ramirez as the only players to amass 100 homers and 200 steals before age 28. Fun fact: Justin Upton also hit his 100th career homer earlier in the night at Philadelphia. The Upton brothers both hit their 99th homers during games on July 20.
- In the sixth inning, Desmond Jennings (1-4, homer) went yard for the eighth time this season. Fun fact: four of those eight homers have been hit to left field at the Trop, landing in section 141/143, missing me by a mere few feet. I know, I’m a regular walking talking scatter plot of DesJen.
- Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Matt Moore and the pen combined for an eight hit, three walk, 11 strikeout shutout. The Rays now have 11 shutouts on the year.
- Five Rays went 0-fer; Sam Fuld (0-1), Carlos Pena (0-3), Ryan Roberts (0-3), Jose Lobaton (0-3), and Elliot Johnson (0-3).
- Rays DH Jeff Keppinger left the game early after turning his ankle sliding into second base. He’s reportedly (read: thankfully) okay.
- Though scoring opportunities were few, the Rays could have tacked on a couple more insurance runs in the sixth, but didn’t. With two on and a runner in scoring position, neither Carlos Pena or Sam Fuld could get that pivotal base hit. To be fair though, ‘Los was robbed by Adam Jones, and I’m content with Fuld even making contact with a Daren O’Day pitch.
The New What Next
The Rays will have the chance to continue their winning streak by tacking on another win. It’s not going to be easy though. Jeremy Hellickson (6-6, 3.23 ERA) will take on Wei-Yen Chen (9-6, 3.65 ERA) in what promises to be a low scoring game.
Hellickson gave up one run and three hits in 6-1/3 innings in his last game against Chen and the Orioles on July 24. Helly then struck out five and walked none over six innings of two-hit ball Sunday in a 2-0 road victory over the Angels. Chen, on the other hand, has gone 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. The rookie left-hander allowed one unearned run and three hits while striking out a season-high (12) in 5-2/3 innings of Sunday’s 6-1 victory over Oakland.
Chen has compiled a 5.84 ERA in losing both his meetings with the Rays. Hellickson has thrived against the Orioles, going 5-2 with a 1.99 ERA over eight career starts. He’s also gone 3-1 with a 0.88 ERA in four home outings against them. Baltimore has had a hard time scoring runs at Tropicana Field in general of late, losing five of six there by a 30-10 margin. Pena, Kepp, Joyce, and Fuld have all put up good at-bats against Chen, so it goes without saying that they’ll play important roles in tonight’s game.
Rays 8/4/12 Starting Lineup