Monday Morning Rays Wrap Up: Injuries Take Their Toll But Rays Have A Winning Week

May 20, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Luke Scott (30) talks with designated hitter Luke Scott (30) after first baseman Carlos Pena (not pictured) ran into his hit and got the third out of the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Tropicana Field.Atlanta Braves defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Rays offense struggled this week scoring three runs or less in four of the weeks seven games including being shut out on Sunday yet still finished the week with a winning record of 4-3. The Rays finish the week in 2nd place in the AL East with a record of 25-17 which is still good for the 3rd best record in the AL.

The Rays head into next week looking for a more consistent offense. On the bright side is B.J. Upton who is 7 for 14 in his last 4 games, Sean Rodriguez who has hit .306 with 7 extra base hits since May 1st, and Elliot Johnson who is hitting .321 (17 for 53) since beginning to receive regular play on May 5th will continue to hit. On the downside has been Carlos Pena who is hitting .121 (8 for 66) with 1 HR and 5 RBI in May and Luke Scott .184 (14 for 76) with 15 strikeouts and 4 walks.

The injuries continue to mount for the Rays who lost Jeff Niemann to a broken fibula earlier in the week and may have lost Jeff Keppinger as he was hit in the foot by a foul ball while in the Rays dugout and his status is uncertain. Following Niemann's injury Joe Maddon put it perfectly when he told reports "It's pouring right now, but we've got the umbrellas up, we're doing OK.

Upcoming Schedule:

The Rays will finish the current homestand with three games against the Blue Jays. After playing 16 straight days the Rays will enjoy an off day on Thursday before heading to Boston to take on the Red Sox in a weekend series.

Jeremy Hellickson vs Kyle Drabek

Matt Moore vs Drew Hutchinson

James Shields vs Ricky Romero

David Price vs Jon Lester

Alex Cobb vs Josh Beckett

David Price vs Clay Buchholz

AL East Upcoming Schedules:

The Baltimore Orioles will be at home all week and take on the Boston Red Sox for three games and the Kansas City Royals for three.

The New York Yankees will be at home for three games against the Kansas City Royals before heading out west to take on the Oakland A's.

The Boston Red Sox will be in Baltimore to take on the Orioles for three games before returning home to host a three game series against the Rays.

The Toronto Blue Jays will be in St. Pete for a three game series against the Rays before travelling to Texas to take on the Rangers in a weekend series.

Transactions:

May 14, 2012: Place Desmond Jennings on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 12, 2012) with a left knees strain and recalled Steven Vogt from AAA Durham.

May 15, 2012: Placed Jeff Niemann on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right fibula and recalled pitcher Josh Lueke from AAA Durham.

May 16, 2012: Signed IF Ryan Garko to a minor league contract.

May 16, 2012; Acquired Rich Thompson from the Philadelphia Phillies for Kyle Hudson.

May 16, 2012: Placed Brandon Guyer on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 13, 2012) with a left shoulder strains.

May 16, 2012: Transferred Jeff Niemann from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list and

May 19, 2012: Recalled pitcher Alex Cobb from AAA Durham and optioned pitcher Josh Lueke to AAA Durham.

Injury Updates:

Brandon Allen began his rehab assignment with the Charlotte Stone Crabs and on Saturday played an entire game in LF and went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. Through Saturday he has had played in 3 games for the Stone Crabs and hit .273/.429/.636 with a double and home run in 14 plate appearances.

Jose Lobaton has been on the disabled list since April 15, 2012 due to a sore shoulder. Through Saturday he had appeared in 5 games total (2 in Port Charlotte and 3 in Montgomery) and has 1 hit in 17 plate appearances.

Kyle Farnsworth is throwing at 60 feet on flat ground and long tossing as he makes his way back from a strained elbow. If he has no setbacks he'll begin throwing off the mound this week.

Desmond Jennings has been hitting and throwing and is scheduled to return on or very close to May 27, 2012. Joe Maddon hasn't determined if he will require any minor league plate appearances or not.

Evan Longoria has increased his agility work on the infield and has been taking batting practice. He has told Joe Maddon that he feels good.

Rays News:

Through Saturday Hideki Matsui has hit .11/.158/.167 in 21 plate appearances but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Matsui may join the Rays as soon as this weekend in Boston.

What does Sternfan have to say?

G'morning Rays fans

This week saw our Rays play to a winning mark of 4-3, with games against the Jays, Red Sox and Braves. The pitching was again outstanding except for James Shields and his second straight uninspired start. Alex Cobb came in to take Jeff Niemann's turn and actually turned it up a notch, going 7 IP with just 2 ER allowed in the only win we had versus Atlanta

The problem continues to be scoring runs as we saw our Rays get shut out for the first time yesterday. With Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings sidelined it's imperative we get Luke Scott and Carlos Pena out of what now seems like prolonged slumps. Players like Will Rhymes, Elliot Johnson and Jeff Keppinger are nice complimentary players but they're not going to carry an offense.

The rumor mill says we might bring Godzilla up this week. Hideki Matsui with some pop left in his bat might put some oomph into this offense.

This week it's two series with ALE foes Jays (here) and Red Sox (there) with our first day off in ages on Thursday in between.

As Always Go Rays!!

Monday, May 14th: Rays Lose Niemann But Defeat Brandon Morrow and the Jays 7-1

In the first inning of Monday's game Jeff Niemann was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Adam Lind. He stayed in the game to retire Edwin Encarnacion but left before starting the second inning. Later, X-rays revealed that Niemann had a fracture of his right fibula. The Rays bullpen was stellar and held the Jays scoreless for 8 innings. Cesar Ramos gave the Rays 3 innings, Wade Davis 2 innings, and J.P. Howell, Burke Badenhop, and Jake McGee an inning each. The Rays scored 6 times off Jays starter Brandon Morrow in the sixth inning to break the game open.

Joe Maddon on the injuries:

"It's a big loss; we are constantly having our depth tested," manager Joe Maddon said about Niemann. "I'm really proud of the whole group. That's who we are -- we really do rally to pick each other up. Nobody is out there saying the season is over because some really key people are missing. I love it, I absolutely love it. You just have to be resilient in this game and be creative. You have to somehow work through these moments because it happens to everyone, it's not unique to us." - mlb.com


Tuesday, May 15th: Led by David Price Rays win 4-3 and sweep the Jays

David Price worked 7 innings allowing only 3 runs while striking out 6 and walking 0 and the Rays offense scored 3 times in the seventh to put the Rays ahead 4-3. Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney worked the final two innings of scoreless relief and the Rays swept the mini two game series with the Jays.

"Just like in his last game, I thought he got better as the game was in progress," Rays manager Joe Maddon said about his ace. "I think he could have easily gone out if we needed him to and pitched the eighth inning. Really good stuff, nothing had diminished by the end of the seventh inning." - mlb.com


Wednesday, May 16th: Hellickson cools of Red Sox as Rays win 2-1

Jeremy Hellickson held the Red Sox to 1 run over 6 innings and Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney held the Red Sox scoreless over the final three innings for a 2-1 victory. Carlos Pena scored on a balk, one of three called on Boston pitching, in the second inning and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Luke Scott to plate Matt Joyce for the second run.

Matt Joyce on why he chose to tag up on a shallow fly ball to Ross:

"Well, as I saw the play developing, the ball was up in the air and obviously it was short," Joyce said. "I wasn't really planning on going until I saw Cody Ross kind of backpedal. The Trop can be tough sometimes for outfielders and infielders the same. It's hard to see the ball when you're not used to it. "He started backpedaling, and as an outfielder, I know it's hard to get a lot on your throw and make a really good throw when you're on the heels of your feet. I took a shot and it worked out." - mlb.com

The game featured a scary moment when Will Rhymes was hit by a pitch and subsequently fainted when he reached first base.


Thursday, May 17th: Rays 4 game win streak comes to end as Red Sox win 5-3

Matt Moore got off to a rough start and saw his pitch count swell and the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Rays to end the Rays 4 game winning streak. The good news is that Moore finished the game by retiring the last 10 Red Sox he faced and ended up going 6 innings for a quality start.

Matt Moore on his bad beginning:

"I just had to flush," Moore said. "You can't control what just happened, so there really was no sense in me thinking too much. I just really tried to get it out of my mind as fast as possible." -mlb.com


Friday, May 18th: Rays fall to Braves 5-3

Tommy Hanson held the Rays offense in check and Freddie Freeman and Martin Prado combined to drive in 3 runs on 4 hits to defeat James Shields and the Rays 5-3.

James Shields on his performance specifically the two out walk:

: "I felt like I was making some good pitches all the way up to the fifth inning. Two-out walk is unacceptable. It's a terrible job by me. ... Changed the whole game, that was the game right there. I've got to do a better job as a pitcher to bear down out there and get that out. ... I'm definitely going to put that loss on me tonight." - mlb.com


Saturday, May 19th: Alex Cobb debut aided by Matt Joyce Grand Slam as Rays win 5-2

Alex Cobb was touched for 2 runs early on as the Braves peppered the infield with seeing eye singles. Cobb settled down and gave the Rays 7 solid innings and was given all the runs he needed thanks to a grand slam by Matt Joyce and a solo homer by Sean Rodriguez.

Alex Cobb on his start:

"[I] started out trying to nitpick too much and then started getting comfortable in the third or fourth inning," Cobb said. "Just started letting it ... loose -- nice and loose -- and started hitting my spots better." -mlb.com

Matt Joyce on his Grand Slam:

"I've hit some balls really well to center that just haven't gone," Joyce said. "I really didn't expect that one to go, either, just because as well as I've hit a ball to center, it doesn't go anywhere. I figured it would be a double, at the worse he catches it and runs into the wall or something. But that's all I've got."-mlb.com


Sunday, May 20th: Rays shutout for first time in 2012 and lose series to Braves 2-0

David Price gave the Rays 7 solid innings allowing only 2R/1ER but Tim Hudson was better in shutting down the Rays for 7.2 innings for the win. The Rays had their opportunities but unfortunately they came with 2-outs in the innings.

Joe Maddon on Tim Hudson's performance:

"I saw that a lot," Maddon said. "When he's got it going on down in the zone and then he elevates when he wants to, good breaking ball, just a real ability to pitch. You could see him plotting every hitter. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and he was able to do it.

"He was really never in much trouble. He had great stuff. The velocity held all the way through with the great movement, and then he spotted the split and the curveball when he wanted to. But I saw that with him, [Barry] Zito and [Mark] Mulder way too often out there." -mlb.com

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