Monday Morning Rays Wrap Up: The Final Countdown

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Outfielder Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays smiles after his inside the park home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 25, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

The Rays finished the week with a record of 3-4 and are one game behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card with three game left to play. While the Yankees were taking 3 out of 4 from the Rays early in the week the Red Sox were losing 3 out of 4 at home to the Baltimore Orioles.The Rays returned home to face the Blue Jays and took 2 out of 3 from the Jays for their 14th consecutive home series win against the Jays. The Red Sox lost 2 out of 3 in New York and but were able to salvage the second game of the Sunday doubleheader in New York to remain 1 game ahead of the Rays and 3 games ahead of the LA Angels. The chase for the wild card will depend on the outcomes of three series: the Yankees at the Rays, the Red Sox at the Orioles, and the Rangers at the Angels (who need a flat out miracle to force a playoff game). 

The Rays will host the New York Yankees for three games beginning Monday. On Monday the Rays will send James Shields vs Phil Hughes, Tuesday will feature Jeremy Hellickson vs Bartolo Colon, and Wednesday will feature "undecided" versus David Price.

The Red Sox will travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles in a 3 game series. On Monday the Orioles will send Tommy Hunter up against Josh Beckett, Tuesday's matchup will feature Zach Britton vs Erik Bedard, and Wednesday will feature Alfredo Simon vs Jon Lester.

The Angels are at home for 3 games vs the Texas Rangers and have their top three pitchers Dan Haren, Jeff Weaver, and Ervin Santana scheduled to start but will need both Tampa Bay and Boston to lose 2 out of 3 and for them to sweep to have a shot at a 1 game playoff. The Rangers rotation is unknown for the 3 game series as they have clinched the division and will be lining up their post-season rotation.

The Weeks Game Highlights After The Jump

Tuesday: Rays bats silenced by Ivan Nova as the Yankees defeat the Rays 5-0

The Rays looked to Wade Davis in the first game of a 4 game series with the Yankees. Unfortunately, Davis wasn't sharp only lasting 4.2 innings, giving up 5R/4ER on 8 hits while striking out 2 and walking 5. Ivan Nova shut the Rays offense down for 7.2 innings allowing no runs on 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking 3. The Rays offense had opportunities to break through in the 6th and 7th innings. B.J. Upton led off the 6th inning but the Rays were unable to bring him home but that was just a warmup for a blown opportunity in the 7th. The Rays loaded the bases with nobody out Nova struck out Desmond Jennings and induced a double play ball by B.J. Upton to end the inning.

Wade Davis on his poor start:

"I wanted to come out today and have a good outing and give our team a chance to win," Davis said. "It's frustrating. You want to go out there and keep your team in the game. But giving up four runs in one inning is tough to swallow." -mlb.com

Wednesday Game 1: Rays bullpen blows late lead as Yankees win 4-2.

The Rays trailed the Yankees 1-0 heading to the third innings and took the lead on a Desmond Jennings 2-run home run.  James Shields protected the 2-1 lead into the eighth inning but Edward Nunez hit a lead off home run to tie the game at 2. Shields remained in the game and struck out Eric Chavez for the first out but gave up a single to Brett Gardner who stole second and a walk to Derrick Jeter. Joe Maddon turned to J.P. Howell to face Robinson Cano who promptly delivered a 2-RBI double to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Brandon Gomes came in and struck out Alex Rodriguez and got Nick Swisher to ground out to second base. Mariano Rivera came in and slammed the door for his 44th save of the year. The victory clinched a playoff spot for the Yankees.

Joe Maddon on his decision to use J.P. Howell to face Robinson Cano.

"Well, [Howell has] done really well against lefties, actually, this year," Maddon said. "And he's the one ground-ball pitcher that we have among the lefties. Cano's like 52 percent on the ground versus left-handers. So you have a 50-50 chance that he'll put the ball on the ground." -mlb.com

Joe Maddon on Rays lack of offense:

"We obviously have to score more than two runs," Maddon said. "You look at a game like that and you're immediately going to blame the latter part of the game. But we had chances against a variety of different pitchers to score more than we did. And that's really where the game was lost today."-mlb.com

James Shields on his failure to protect the lead in the 8th inning:

"I'm extremely disappointed," said Shields, who took his 12th loss of the season. "A 2-1 ballgame, I have to do a better job in the eighth inning right there. That's my game right there. Obviously, the home run. But I've got to come back and get the job done."-mlb.com

 

Wednesday Evening: Rays lose another late inning lead and fall to NY 4-2.

Jeremy Hellickson worked 7 strong innings giving up 2 runs on 2 hits while striking out 3 and walking 4. The Rays and Yankees were all tied at 2 entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Jake McGee came in to relieve Hellickson and struck out Edwin Nunez for the first out but gave up a double to pinch hitter Nick Swisher before retiring Curtis Granderson for the second out. With Mark Teixeira due up  Juan Cruz was summoned into the game and walked Teixeira. Cesar Ramos replaced Cruz but fell behind Robinson Cano 3-1 before he was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded and two out,  Brandon Gomes came in to face Jesus Montero, but Joe Girardi responded with Jorge Posada to pinch hit for Montero. Posada responded with a 2-RBI single to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Former Ray Rafael Soriano came in to set the Rays down in the bottom of the ninth securing the victory and in conjunction with a Red Sox loss to Baltimore the Yankees won the AL East crown.

Joe Maddon on being swept in doubleheader only to lose 1/2 game in standings:

"Absolutely, we feel lucky," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We're very fortunate that Baltimore has played as well as they have. They played well against us also. They have a nice team. They have a bunch of veterans on that group. We were very fortunate no question. ... We've never done anything easily. So let's do this in a difficult manner. We just have to get more offense." -mlb.com

Joe Maddon addressing the return of Ben Zobrist:

"The first game, he's going to pinch-hit with a couple of guys on and he's going to come up big, and it didn't happen. Then in the second game, of course he's going to give the baby a birthday present. I mean, I'm really thinking in that manner. It just didn't happen.

But honestly, he was ready to play." "Of course, it's an emotional moment, a baby being born," said Maddon who confessed to looking for some magic from Zobrist. "But what better time to give the baby a real birthday present? I actually had those kinds of thoughts in the back of my mind, like 'This is perfect.' -mlb.com

Thursday: Matt Moore K's 11 Yankees & offense scores 15 as Rays defeat Yanks 15-8.

The Yankees spent Wednesday evening celebrating and it showed Thursday as the Yankees pitching staff allowed 15 runs to the Rays offense and Matt Moore went through the Yankees like a hot knife through butter striking out 11 in 5 innings of work. Moore did not, as some may suggest, face a Scranton Wilkes Berry lineup as he dominated the veterans in the Yankee lineup as well. Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Andrew Jones, Jorge Posada, and Nick Swisher went 1-9 with 7 K's vs Moore.

Moore on his preparation for his start:

"I never want to envision myself doing something bad," said Moore when asked if he could have pictured the result he got Thursday night. "I think as an athlete, you can ask anybody in here, you don't picture yourself doing anything wrong or things going against you.

"For the most part, what's between your ears, you have to train yourself to envision things going the right way. And so that's where my head was at going into today."

mlb.com

Joe Maddon on Moore's first start:

"He was outstanding," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I liked the strike zone. I like the strike throwing and I like the life at the end. You can see that from the side. ... His composure, Yankee Stadium, the situation, the strikes, all those things speak to the makeup of Matt Moore. ... He's pretty advanced for his age and experience level."--mlb.com

Check out Moore trying to act like he wasn't sure if he was starting or not:

Matt Moore after his start against NY:

Friday: Operation Devastation is devastating as Price errors help Toronto to 5-1 victory.

Brandon Morrow tormented the Rays again with 7 innings of shutout ball. The Rays seemed to lack energy and focus as David Price made two key errors in the 3fd inning and B.J. Upton made a base running blunder that left many scratching their heads. The Blue Jays had J.P. Arencibia at 1st with 1-out when Jason Cooper hit a double play ball back to the mound. Price fielded the ball but threw wildly to first and Zobrist was unable to record an out. Mike McCoy followed up with a single to load the bases for Eric Thames. Thames sent a 1-hopper back to David Price who threw a bullet to Kelly Shoppach who was barely able to get a glove on the ball as it went to the backstop allowing 2 runs to score. Later in the inning a RBI single by Kelly Johnson made the score 3-0. The Rays offense was silent until the 9th inning when they pushed across a run to avoid being shut out. David Price was not effective and only lasted 6 innings giving up 5R/2ER on 5 hits while striking out 7 and walking 2.

Saturday: The Gods of Baseball, Alex Torres, and Johnny Damon lead Rays to 6-2 victory.

Call it the Trop advantage, call it luck, call it the Gods of baseball smiling. Somehow, the Rays pushed two runs across in the bottom of the first to tie the game after Jeff Niemann looked flat and surrendered 2 runs in the top of the first. B.J. Upton hits a foul pop up and David Cooper loses it in the roof and B.J. responds with his second life with a single. After B.J. stole second base and Evan Longoria struck out, Ben Zobrist sent a grounder to shortstop Mick McCoy who threw wildly at first allowing Upton to score from second and Zobrist to move up to second. Johnny Damon then hit a pop fly that landed between Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson who both just stopped and allowed the ball to drop allowing Zobrist to score to tie the game. Joe Maddon pulled Jeff Niemann after the first inning and Alex Torres gave the Rays more than they could have hoped for by going 5 scoreless innings giving up 3 hits while striking out 5 and walking only 1. The Rays took a 3-2 lead on a Ben Zobrist home run in the 4th inning and received the breathing room they needed on a 3-run homer by Johnny Damon in the bottom of the 8th. Kyle Farnsworth returned to action and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with 2 strikeouts.

Alex Torres on his performance:

"I never feel nervous," Torres said. "When I came up [to the Rays] the second time [this season], I told Joe Maddon, 'I'm just going to make adjustments, because I've been a starter all year in Triple-A.' Like I said to him, 'If you're going to use me in any situation, I'll be ready for that.'"-mlb.com

Joe Maddon on Torres performance:

"They hit some balls hard against him the first couple of hitters," Maddon said. "Then after that, he really settled in and started making some better pitches. I thought he brought the changeup into the mix more consistently.

"He knew where the fastball was going, too. And once he had those two things going on, he got really good. Definitely he's a tough guy. He's got the right kind of makeup to play here. He's got AL East makeup, that's fantastic."

mlb.com

 

Sunday: Wade Davis spectacular as Rays defeat Toronto 5-2.

Wade Davis gave the Rays an impressive 8 innings of work allowing 2R/2ER on 3 hits while striking out 6 and walking only 2. The Rays offense was provided via the home run as B.J. Upton hit a solo shot in the first and one out later Ben Zobrist hit an inside the park homer in the top of the first. Evan Longoria blasted a 2-run home run off the cat walk in the bottom of the 3rd to give the Rays a 4-1 lead. The Blue Jays cut the lead to 4-2 on a Dewayne Wise home run in the top of the fifth. Kelly Shoppach gave the runs their fifth run as he too blasted a ball off the cat walk. Joel Peralta came in and worked the ninth to earn his 6th save of the year.

Johnny Damon on the Rays playoff position:

"It's great, especially where we were and where we are right now," said Johnny Damon of the Rays' position. "We're pretty much in control of our own destiny, but we can't control what happens with Boston, so we just have to keep going out there playing and hopefully keep winning."-mlb.com

Johnny Damon on what the Red Sox must  be going through:

"I'm sure it's not too good right now, but that's something I don't have to worry about and that's a good thing," Damon said. "That's a tough place to play. And the thing about playing up there, you hear about it every second of the day. And like I said, I'm glad I don't have to worry about it."-mlb.com

Joe Maddon on Wade Davis' impressive start:

"I've talked about that with David Davis A lot of young pitchers need to understand their weapons, understand what they have in the toolbox and how to utilize them. Sometimes they'll watch another good pitcher do something and then they want to do that, even though it's not time for them to attempt that. I would rather you compete with yourself as opposed to somebody else in those situations."-mlb.com

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