The Tampa Bay Rays capped off a successful month of April with a 3-2 victory against the New York Yankees in 13 innings. At 12-10 on the season, first year manager Kevin Cash did something with the Rays that hadn’t been done since 2012 — put together a plus .500 record in the first month of play. Compare that with last season, under the watchful eye of Joe Maddon, when the team went 11-16 with a -12 run differential. Not bad skip, not bad at all.
The Rays will return to action Friday in the first of three road games against the Baltimore Orioles, at Tropicana Field. Listed below are a few updates to get you through:
— “Pitching, pitching, pitching,” – Rays manager, Kevin Cash on Wednesday’s marathon win against New York. Drew Smyly looked good in his second game since returning from the disabled list. Smyly scattered four hits (although two solo homers cost him the lead) while fanning 10 in six innings. Five relievers followed Smyly and combined for seven scoreless innings, allowing only five base runners.
Brandon Gomes had the stiffest challenge by far, having to deal with the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury on base in the 11th and Brett Gardner in the 12th. Ernesto Frieri did well in his second save opportunity, coaxing a game ending double play out of Alex Rodriguez to cap his first 0-for-6 day. Rays pitchers handed Rodriguez his first striukeout day since 2008.
Gomes was pumped up following the game, telling Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times),
That was fun. I like our bullpen against anybody’s bullpen.
— Loney, late, against lefties. The phrase coined by Dave and Andy (on the radio side) held true Wednesday, as James Loney drove home the go ahead run. The Rays first baseman grounded a ball to right side that rolled through the infield, subsequently plating Steven Souza Jr. from second. Shifted second baseman Stephen Drew made a sliding stop to field the ball, yet he couldn’t complete the play at either first or home.
Souza was running on contact and saw the ball get through the infield. Rays third-base coach Charlie Montoyo sent him home, scoring well ahead of Drew’s throw.
I was full steam ahead, Souza said. I knew it was either going to be a close play at first or a close play at home, so I went for it.
— Matt Andriese was optioned back to Triple-A Durham following the game, clearing a space for RHP Alex Colome who will be activated from the DL ahead of Friday’s game against Baltimore.
— “We’re just trying to bring some economic development to the region,” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg quipped in an article in the Tampa Bay Times, regarding the unusual move to host Baltimore’s away series this weekend. While I laud the Rays for their graciousness in this awkward situation, I’ve got to say that if Sternberg really wanted to bring some economic development to the region, following in the footsteps of Lightning owner Jeff Vinik would be a good start.
— Desmond Jennings, who is dealing with a bout of bursitis in his left knee, will see a doctor Thursday in St. Petersburg. The Rays remain hopeful that he’ll play this weekend, however, having the games on turf at Tropicana Field, rather than natural grass in Baltimore, might be an issue.
— Grant Balfour was officially released from his contract, making him free to sign with any team for the league minimum. The Rays will pay the balance of his $7 million salary.
— Our upcoming watch party on May 16th is quickly approaching! Click the link, confirm your attendance, and share the event with everyone! Beer, yard games, food, and your favorite small market team… What more could you ask for?!