The Rays did it! Following a very successful 8-2 road trip, the good guys took their most recent three game home set against a pretty hot Royals, following their 5-3 win Wednesday. The story of the day was James Shields.
Juego G seems to have bounced back from his mid-season slump. Posting a 7.2 IP/5 H/3 ER/1 BB/7 K line against the Royals Shields threw 106 pitches (71 for strikes) in all. His most dangerous pitch on the day was his change-up, throwing it for a strike 73% of the time (with a 20% whiff rate). Shields did get in trouble in the eighth inning, giving up a single to Johnny Giavotella which was followed up by an Alcides Escobar RBI triple two batters later.
Jake McGee came on in relief and promptly gave up an RBI single to Alex Gordon. Kyle Farnsworth came in to get the final out of the eighth, leaving the Rays with an uncomfortable one run lead. Jose Lobaton was able to steal one run back on a 419 foot blast to center, giving the Rays a two run lead they wouldn’t again relent. Fernando Rodney came on in the ninth and did what he does best. The rest is history.
It was refreshing to see the Rays bounce back from Tuesday nights embarrassing two hit offensive implosion. Tampa Bay was able to score five runs on nine hits and six walks. They ended the day 1-13 wRISP while leaving 10 men on base. Suffice to say it would have been nice to see them tack on a few more insurance runs. However, they only struck out one time (as opposed to 10 times the night before) and continually applied the pressure to the Royals throats, eventually breaking through. We can only hope that the Rays offense shows up in the next series against the A’s.
Tampa Bay will start a three game series against the Athletics on Thursday. The Rays seek to hold on to their one game lead over the A’s for the first wildcard spot, while sitting pretty, a mere three games in back of the Yankees in the AL East following three straight losses. We’ve seen how dangerous the Athletics can be. Similar to the Rays, the A’s are 6-4 in their last ten games. BUT their pitching isn’t as strong on the road as it is at home, with a significantly higher team ERA and FIP on the road. The Rays have ample opportunity to pounce this weekend. If the Rays can continue averaging almost five runs per game as they have in the month of August, they could start to pull away from the rest of the pack in the wildcard race when they walk out of the Trop Saturday. And that friends, would rule.
By the by, my good buddy and friend of the blog, James, (from the band Against Me!) will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in Thursday nights game. How’s about you’s Rays fans come out and give him lots of cheers…and you know, help the Rays put more than 11,000 butts in the seats. You can read an interview that James did with ESPN.com a few months ago, here.
Because It Bears Mentioning….
News broke yesterday that A’s starter and Carlos Mencia lookalike, Bartolo Colon, failed an MLB drug test, and has been suspended for 50 games. Brett Anderson returned to the Athletics starting rotation yesterday, filling the hole vacated by the swarthy 39 year-old starter who went through a resurrection of sorts following his $2 MM acquisition this past off-season.