The Rays finished the week with a record of 5-2 and are now 9-7 on the season. They are in the midst of a very difficult opening of the 2012 season both in terms of competition (19 of first 22 against teams that finished .500 or better in 2011) but also in terms of travel (longest road trip - 10 game 3-city), and 26 games in 27 days (only off-day tomorrow). The starting pitching and the bullpen have been getting better and the offense and defense has received a boost with the return of B.J. Upton. Fernando Rodney continues to be the most pleasant surprise of the 2012 season.
Monday April 23: Off Day
Friday April 27: James Shields vs Netfali Feliz
Sunday April 29: David Price vs Yu Darvish
AL East Upcoming Schedules:
Toronto Blue Jays finish a four game set at the Kansas City Royals on Monday before travelling for a 3 game series against the Baltimore Orioles before returning home to take on the Seattle Mariners for 3 games
Baltimore Orioles host the Toronto Blue Jays for 3 games and the Oakland Athletics for 4 games.
April 17: Sent Alex Cobb to AAA Durham and recalled Brandon Gomes.
April 20: Activated B.J. Upton from the disabled list and optioned Stephen Vogt to AAA Durham.
April 21: Activated Brandon Allen and sent SS Reid Brignac to AAA Durham.
What does SF1 have to say:
G'morning Rays fans.The Rays go 5-2 with series wins over the Jays and Twins and even my cup is half full today.I love the run production this line up projects especially versus RHP, and I'm not certain I'd be sitting Luke Scott and Matt Joyce versus every LHP, when in many cases the trade off is Elliot Johnson or Ben Zobrist batting RH.I like how we now have a MLB bench, with the addition of Brandon Allen who as a late inning PHer with the Rays behind can change the score in a hurry. That's what a PHer is for.I'm starting to see the bullpen come around and assume their roles. Joe has weeded out the Luekes and DeLaRosas and now only needs to get Gomes and McGee getting outs. How about Jake with a huge K of Morneau?My only real negative is our starting pitchers, with of course the exception of James Shields who has been fantastic,, are not going deep into games, which eventually will tax that bullpen.All in all a great week. Let's beat up Price Albert and his Halos
Game Highlights After The Jump
Monday April 16th: Shields delivers gem as Rays snap 4 game losing streak
The Rays and Red Sox played in the annual Patriots Day game. Entering the game the Rays were losers of 4 games in a row including embarrassing losses of 12-2 and 13-5 which marked the first time that the Rays given up 12 runs or more in back to back games since July 21 and July 22, 2007 against the Yankees . The Red Sox were looking to sweep a 4 game series vs the Rays at Fenway Park something that hadn't happened since May 25 to May 28, 2006.
James Shields tossed a gem with 8.1 shutout innings on 4 hits, while walking 2 and striking out 5. Evan Longoria drew a bases load walk off Red Sox starter Daniel Bard in the 7th inning to plate the Rays only run. Fernando Rodney replaced Shields with Dustin Pedroia at 1st and 1-out in the ninth retired Adrian Gonzalez on a ground out to first which moved Pedroia into scoring position with 2-outs. David Ortiz was intentionally walked to bring Cody Ross to the plate. Rodney struck out Cody Ross on some very questionable pitches to earn his 4th save of the season.
The victory was Joe Maddon's 500th victory as manager of the Rays joining Ron Gardenhire of the Twins, Jim Leyland of the Tigers, Mike Scioscia of the Angles, and Charlie Manuel of the Phillies as active manager with 500 wins with their team.
Joe Maddon (post game) on the state of the Rays:
"We came in today, you would have thought we had won three games in a row, and that's exactly what I want. We win hard for 30 minutes, we lose hard for 30 minutes, we move on to the next day. I think when you get caught up in negative momentum, that can really be obviously a bad situation that you're nurturing." -mlb.com
James Shields on the starting pitchers:
"That's what our job is to do, stop the bleeding," Shields said. "I thought our starters threw the ball a little better than their numbers showed [over the weekend]. [The Red Sox] were swinging the last few days, so you have to give their hitters credit. It's our job as starters to shut things down." - mlb.com
Tuesday April 17th: Rays fall to Blue Jays 7-3
After 8 straight afternoon games the Rays headed north of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a bad day for the Rays as the Blue Jays jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and never looked back in winning 7-3. Jeff Niemann worked 5 innings giving up 5R/2ER on only 3 hits while striking out 5 and walking 1. The Blue Jays offense was powered by three home runs (Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, and Brett Lawrie).
Evan Longoria was charged with 3 errors in the game which tied a Rays team record with 7 others. The last Ray to commit 3 errors in a game was Sean Rodriguez on May 30, 2011. Longoria is the second Rays 3rd baseman to be charged with 3 errors in a game joining Alex Gonzalez who committed 3 errors versus the Red Sox on July 20, 2005.
It was a frustrating game for the Rays offense who had 10 hits and 4 walks on the day and several more loud outs and were only able to score 3 runs on the day.
Evan Longoria on his tough day in the field:
"It was a bad day," Longoria said. "I was just trying to make the aggressive play and try and make the play. Tonight, it just didn't happen to work out three times." - mlb.com
Wednesday April 18th: Rays offense erupts for 12-2 victory
The Rays took advantage of the Blue Jays pitching staff and belted 3 home runs including 3 off Jays starter Brandon Morrow (Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, and Sean Rodriguez) and 1 off of Carlos Villanueva (Luke Scott [Grand Slam]). David Price worked 5.2 innings giving up 2R/2ER on 8 hits while striking out 3 and walking 2. The maligned Rays bullpen worked a scoreless 3.1 innings.
With a homer and 2 doubles Matt Joyce became the first player to get 3 extra-base hits off Morrow in a game. Prior to this start Brandon Morrow had held the Rays to a career .145 (27-185) and no Rays fan could forget the 1-hit, 17K, shutout he threw against the Rays on August 8, 2010 (A Game Score of 100).
Matt Joyce on his success against Romero and Morrow:
"He had my number," Joyce said. "He and Ricky Romero really had my number the last few times. Really, every time I've faced them. I really tried to gather as much information as I could the last two days and have a better approach. And it worked out." - mlb.com
Thursday April 19th: Rays offense shines again as Rays defeat Blue Jays 9-4
For the second straight day the Rays offense provided the pitching staff plenty of run support. Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez was touched up for 6R/6ER in 6 innings of work. Jeremy Hellickson worked 5.2 innings for the Rays and was charged with 3R/2ER on 6 hits while striking out 4 and walking 3. Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria both homered for the Rays.
With the victory Jeremy Hellickson became only the 3rd Rookie of the Year winner to win his first two decisions the following season. He joins Dwight Gooden (1984 ROY) and Dontrelle Willis (2003 ROY).
The victory gave the Rays a 4-6 record on their longest road trip of the season (10-game, 3-city).
Carlos Pena on the end of the long road trip:
"That was very challenging," first baseman Carlos Pena said. "We had a couple of Opening Days, a bunch of day games. It was a challenge to get your rest, get your preparation routine in line. We held our own and we get back home with positive momentum on our side and something to build from." - mlb.com
Friday April 20th: Rays lose to Twins 5-4
The Rays flight from Toronto landed at 4 a.m. on Friday morning and on Friday evening the Rays looked sluggish. Joe Mauer who entered the series as the active leader among all major leaguers (75 PA) in hitting at Tropicana Field (.443) and on-base percentage (.540) and second in slugging (.714) drove in a run in the first and fifth innings to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
The Rays finally got to Twins starter Liam Hendriks and it started with a home run by Matt Joyce in the fifth and 3 runs in the 6th including a 2-run homer by Evan Longoria which gave the Rays a 4-2 lead. The Twins rallied off the Rays bullpen to put up 3 runs in the 7th capped by a bases loaded double that evaded the pursuit of B.J. Upton and gave the Twins a 5-4 lead.
Matt Moore made his first start ever at Tropicana Field and worked 6.1 innings giving up 3R/3ER on 8 hits while striking out 2 and walking 3. Left handed hitters were 4-8 against him in the game and now are hitting .500 (10 for 20) against him on the season while right handed hitters are only hitting .189 (10 for 53).
B.J. Upton on trying to chase down Willingham's double:
"Off the bat, I actually thought I had a bead on it. But the closer I got to it, it wasn't hit true," Upton said. "Somehow, he hit a ball the other way that was top spinning. ... It was just good placement. ... There wasn't much I could do about it." - mlb.com
Saturday April 21st: James Shields dominant once again as Rays defeat Twins 4-1
Before even discussing this game we have to discuss the fans. A Saturday night game in April against the Minnesota Twins with inclement weather all throughout the area and 31,774 show up...Kudos!
James Shields was matched up against Carl Pavano and the game remained scoreless through the first 5 innings. The Rays game James Shields all the runs he would need in the bottom of the sixth when B.J. Upton singled in a pair with the bases loaded and a third run scored on a throwing error by Denard Span. The Rays added a fourth run in the seventh on an error by 3rd baseman Danny Valencia.
The story of the game was James Shields who worked a scoreless 8 innings and came out for the ninth to try and get the complete game shutout. Josh Willingham singled and Justin Morneau doubled to put runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and brought Fernando Rodney into the game. Ryan Doumit drove in the Twins only run with a sacrifice fly to left and Rodney then retired Danny Valencia and Clete Thomas to end the game. Shields final line was 8 innings, 1R/1ER, on 5 hits while striking out 7 and walking only 1. Shields record improves to 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA on the year and Fernando Rodney was credited with his 5th save on the year.
Joe Maddon doesn't feel Shields is a true #1 just yet:
"I think what he did last year definitely put him on the right path to be that guy," Maddon said. "What he's doing right now could pretty much put him in that category.
"To me, to be categorized in that way you have to do it over a period of time. I'm not talking weeks or months. I mean, it's got to occur over years. The old Devil Rays' way was if somebody did something well over a couple of weeks or months, they would be canonized and all of a sudden become this wonderful thing. Whereas I think [Shields is] definitely on the road to becoming that guy. But I don't want to put the crown on him yet." - mlb.com
Sunday April 22nd: Rays Defeat Twins 6-2
Jeff Niemann avoided his first ever 0-3 start to a season as the Rays defeated the Twins 6-2 to take the series. The Rays scored 4 runs on 4 sacrifice flies and a 2-run homer by Desmond Jennings plated the other 2 runs. Jeff Niemann went working 5.1 innings giving up 2R/2ER on 3 hits while striking out 5, walking 2, and hitting 1 batter. He threw 80 pitches (47 for strikes). Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney worked the final 3.2 innings.