Monday Morning Wrap Up: Memorial Day & First Place Edition

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Jose Molina #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays and teammate Fernando Rodney #56 celebrate a 4-3 win against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning at Fenway Park May 27, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Rays won both series this week finishing with a record of 4-2 and have moved into a tie with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East with a record of 29-19. The Rays have kept their head above water despite having 10 players on the disabled list. The Rays have a record of 14-11 since Evan Longoria went down and 10-9 since Desmond Jennings joined him.

Being in first place on Memorial Day is a old school barometer of playoff success. Since the three division format with the wild card was instituted approximately 60% (56 of 97) of teams in first place on Memorial Day went on to appear in the post-season. It's not a very significant statistic but nevertheless it is a fun item to bring up while grilling with family and friends. According to Coolstandings.com the Rays have a 56.7% chance at making the playoffs (not to far off of the laymen Memorial Day odds) and Baseball Prospectus playoff odds have the Rays at an even better 68.1%.

Upcoming Schedule:

The Rays take on the White Sox for three games beginning today and enjoy a stay at home day off before welcoming the Baltimore Orioles for a three game series.

AL East Upcoming Schedules:

The Baltimore Orioles will travel to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays for three games prior to going to St. Petersburg to take on the Ray in a weekend series.

The New York Yankees will finish their west coast trip with three game against the Los Angeles Angels before heading back east for a weekend series against the Detroit Tigers.

The Boston Red Sox will travel to Detroit for a four game series against the Tigers before heading to Toronto for a weekend series against the Blue Jays.

The Toronto Blue Jays will host the Baltimore Orioles for three games and host the Boston Red Sox for a weekend series.

Transactions:

May 21, 2012: Traded a player to be named later or cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for infielder Drew Sutton and placed Jeff Keppinger on the 15-day disabled list. To make room for Sutton on the 40 man roster pitcher John Gaub was designated for assigment.

May 24, 2012: Pitcher John Gaub was claimed on waivers by the Texas Rangers.

Injury Updates:

Injury_list_medium

via: Tampa Bay Rays Game Notes

Desmond Jennings is expected to start an rehab assignment mid-week and may be activated as soon as next weekend.

Evan Longoria may be back for the Mets series June 12 through June 14th.

Brandon Allen and Jose Lobaton are both eligible to come off the disabled list and are currently on rehab assignments. Entering Sunday Brandon Allen had played 8 games for Port Charlotte and was hitting .207/.361/.379 with 9K/7BB and Jose Lobaton has played 9 games between Charlotte, Montgomery, and Durham and was hitting .067/.176/.100 with 7K/4BB.

Rays News:

The Rays had another themed road trip. This one was the Ken Rosenthal/Nerd trip and donated $3,000 ($100 for each bow tie) to Dhani Jones charity bowtiecause.org to be spread out over 18 different organizations.

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via www.tampabay.com

What does Sternfan have to say?

G'morning Rays fans

Yes even for this grumpy old man, it is a very good morning as our Rays are now tied for first place in the ALE on Memorial Day. I'd heard a rumor that someone thought they'd possibly be in last. tsk tsk.

This week, in my opinion, I sense we're beginning to see the emergence of the three teams that will,l in the end, compete for the ALE crown, the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, yes Red Sox and yes even though Bobby V. will do his damnedest to screw it up.

Yesterday's win with a 9th inning blast by my boy Sean Roddy cannot go unmentioned here. That was great. And oh by the way the pitch he hit from RHP Aceves was a 93 mph fast ball.

I think it's time to move off JP 'Gas Can' Howell, thanks for the avatar whomever. His problem seems to be between the ears. When all is going good, he's fine but let one pitch be called a ball instead of a strike and he goes Piersall on us. You can google Jim Piersall if you want to know more. Hopefully Jake McGee continues to get the opportunity as has been the case in these high leverage situations. Kyle Farnsworth will certainly add to this bullpen's strength.

And finally we all need to tip our cap to Joe Maddon almost on a daily basis for not only keeping this team afloat, but vaulting them into first place with all the adversities at hand.

Now we come home to those high flying White Sox, winners of their last nine of ten games, and fresh off a 35 run scoring weekend versus the Indians.

As always Go Rays!

Monday, May 21st: Blue Jays 6 Rays 2

The Rays committed three errors resulting in 4 unearned runs and a wasted solid effort by Jeremy Hellickson as the Blue Jays defeated the Rays 6-2. The Rays failed to capitalize on a wild and erratic Kyle Drabek who gave up 3 hits and 6 walks in 6 innings of work. The game featured an instant replay of a ball struck off the bat by B.J. Upton that was originally ruled a double but changed to a home run even though the umpires didn't have visual proof - they felt as if the ball must of hit something hanging off the catwalk making it a home run.

Joe Maddon on the Rays play Monday night:

"It's just another one of those weird adventures we've been going through," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The effort was great, we pitched really well, uncharacteristic mistakes on defense, and we've been leaving a lot of people on base, we have to drive them in." - mlb.com


Tuesday, May 22nd: Rays 8 Blue Jays 5

The Rays handed Matt Moore a 6-0 lead as they entered the fifth inning. With 2-out and a man on first Moore lost the ability to throw strikes and the Rays defense once again lost the ability to turn batted balls into outs resulting in 4 Blue Jays runs and Matt Moore being removed from the game. In an attempt to shake Carlos Pena out of his month long slump was inserted into the leadoff spot and responded by going 2-5 with a 456 foot HR and 3 RBI. After the game Luke Scott and Carlos Pena were interviewed wearing their Gladiator Masks and the Strength and Honor slogan is now part of the 2012 Rays terminology.

Joe Maddon on Matt Moore's struggles:

"It's not optimal," said Maddon of Moore's self-destruction in the fifth. "I've been through development on many different levels. His stuff was really, really good again. I just think he started to speed up a little bit after we got the big lead. As opposed to just going out and attacking the strike zone. He will. He will be able to eventually do that. But again, I have a lot of patience for young left-handers with that kind of arm." - mlb.com

Carlos Pena & Joe Maddon on the 456 foot homer to center:

"Every time you drive the ball to center field -- that big part of the field -- you know you put a pretty good swing on the ball," Pena said. "It's very gratifying. The fact that we got three runs on that didn't hurt. That's why we hit, we love that feeling. We love when we square balls up, and it's always fun."- mlb.com

"That was prodigious, that was two home runs almost right there," Maddon said. "I'd like to see him really build off that. It's all about confidence. If we get his confidence going again, you're going to see a lot more of that." - mlb.com


Wednesday May 23rd: Rays 5 Blue Jays 4

Not only did Joe Maddon have Carlos Pena in the leadoff spot but he placed Drew Sutton as his cleanup hitter. Pena responded by reaching base 3 times (1-3 with 2 walks) and Drew Sutton drove in 2 runs and went 2-4 with a double. James Shields was magnificent and left the game after 7.1 innings with a 4-2 lead and a man on first. Joel Peralta surrendered a 2-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion to tie the game at 4-4. In the bottom of the11th inning with Rich Thompson on first B.J. Upton sent a ball into the left field corner which allowed the speedy Thompson to score without a throw to the plate giving the Rays the 5-4 walkoff victory.

B.J. Upton on Thompson's speed:

"I heard he could run, I just hadn't gotten the chance to see it," Upton said. "I hit that ball out there and thought it would be second and third with one out. ... It kinda blew my mind when he made it to the plate." - mlb.com


Friday May 24th: Rays 7 Red Sox 4

The Rays were powered by three home runs including a Grand Slam by Matt Joyce to power their way by the Boston Red Sox. Usually when a team has a fireworks show it waits until after the game to blast them off but Bobby Valentine decided to ignite the flame in the Rays half of the ninth hitting by instructing (allegedly {cough}) having Franklin Morales hit Luke Scott with a pitch in retaliation for well - maybe hitting Dustin Pedroia early in the game, maybe for his comments about the Red Sox fans and Fenway Park, or maybe to spark his team - whatever the reason the Rays coaching staff took it very personal as well they should.

Joe Maddon on who he blames for the incident:

"I didn't understand the situation whatsoever. It was not called for at all," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm kind of curious regarding who put out the hit, because I know it wasn't one of their players. By the way their players reacted to the entire situation, I knew it did not come from them. It's kind of incompetent behavior. It's the kind of behavior that gets people hurt and gets [players] hurt on your own side by choosing to do something so ridiculous." - mlb.com

Luke Scott alluding to the same thing as Maddon:

"It's obvious where it came from," Scott said, "and at the end of the day you reap what you sow. I was surprised [to be thrown at]. We know where it came from. I just move on. Just imagine getting hit by a 97-mph fastball in your knee." - mlb.com

Joe Maddon was more animated than any of us have ever seen:

Luke Scott explains:

Bobby Valentine makes a fool of himself:


Saturday May 25th: Red Sox 3 Rays 2

The Rays led by David Price and the Red Sox by Josh Beckett played a very good baseball game void of any of the nonsensical thuggery displayed by Bobby Valentine on Friday evening. The Rays held a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a pinch-hit walkoff 2-run homer off Fernando Rodney who was 15-15 in save situations entering the game.

Rodney explains the pitch location to Saltalamacchia:

"The pitch stayed right in the middle, I was trying to go away. I missed that location tonight," said Rodney, who had his first blown save in 16 chances. "When you miss with a fastball hitter, they're going to hit you."- mlb.com

Saltalamacchia on what he was looking for:

"Last time I faced him, he pumped fastballs right by me, so I knew I had to be ready," Saltalamacchia said. "I was just looking for a fastball and was able to get a fastball over the middle of the plate and do something with it. To be able to pull that one out at the end against this team, it was a tough game all night. It felt good though." - mlb.com

David Price on Rodney:

"I'll be confident in him tomorrow if he's in there," Price said. "He's our guy. Saltalamacchia has been on the bench all game long. He hit a 96-mph fastball, [and] that's not very easy to do. Got to tip your cap to that guy and get one tomorrow."- mlb.com


Sunday May 26th: Rays 4 Red Sox 3

Sean Rodriguez delivered a 2-run 9th inning homer off Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves to put the Rays ahead 4-3 and Fernando Rodney came in to retire the Red Sox in order to give the Rays a much needed series win. A win that moved them back into a tie for first place in the AL East.


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