Aug 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon looks on during batting practice before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
The Rays enjoyed a rare Sunday off day and after going 14-5 over that stretch it was well deserved. The Rays record stands at 70-57 and they trail the New York Yankees by 4.0 games in the AL East and lead the wild card by a 1/2 game over the Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles who are both 69-57, a full game over the Detroit Tigers (69-58), and 4.5 games over the LA Angels (66-62). The Rays enter a tough part of their schedule and have 15 of their next 19 games against teams with a .500 record or better including 6 against the Texas Rangers, 6 against the New York Yankees, and 3 against the Baltimore Orioles.
If the Rays want to continue to track down the Yankees and win the AL East they are going to have to continue to play as they did in the month of August. Thus far in August they are 16-7 and the ndividual numbers for the offense and pitching are provided below.
Upcoming Schedules AL East & Wild Card Opponents:
The Rays will travel to Texas to take on the Rangers and then north of the border to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays.
The New York Yankees will host the Toronto Blue Jays for 3 games and the Baltimore Orioles for a weekend series.
The Baltimore Orioles will be at home for a 4 game series against the Chicago White Sox before travelling to New York to take on the Yankees.
The Detroit Tigers will travel to Kansas City for a 3 game series before heading home to host the Chicago White Sox in a weekend series.
Jeff Niemann out since suffering a broken leg against the Blue Jays on May 14th made his fourth rehab appearance on Saturday afternoon and had to leave the game in the fourth inning after taking a line drive off his pitching hand. X-rays were negative and he is set to join the Rays in Texas to resume conditioning and receive treatment on the hand. He is not expected to be activated until after the rosters expand on September 1st. In his 4 rehab starts he worked 14.1 innings allowing 12R/11ER on 26 hits while striking out 10 and walking 5.
Monday, August 20th: Rays return home from West Coast to defeat Royals 5-1.
The Rays didn't suffer a let down after a long trip home from the west coast. The Rays victory marked the fifth win in a row since being the victim in Felix Hernandez's perfect game. Jeremy Hellickson worked the first 7 innings allowing just one run and J.P. Howell and Kyle Farnsworth worked a scoreless inning each.
Joe Maddon on Hellickson's curveball Monday night:
"He always has it. I'd like to see it more often," Maddon said. "I thought it was more in play against the righties tonight, which is nice, because it's more confusing to the hitter when he's got three things going like that. That may have been his best curve all year." - mlb.com
Tuesday, August 21st: Luke Hochevar locks down Rays and Royals win 1-0 in 10 innings.
David Price and Luke Hochevar took turns painting the corners for 8 scoreless innings. The Royals were able to push across an unearned run in the 10th inning to defeat the Rays 1-0 and end their 6 game winning streak.
Joe Maddon on losing another 1-0 game (3rd time this season):
"Those 1-0 losses are kicking our butt a little bit, that really shouldn't happen," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to figure out a way to score one run somehow in nine innings. It's just a very unfortunate loss." - mlb.com
Wednesday, August 22nd: Rays win series by defeating Royals 5-3
James Shields continued to pitch like the 2011 version of himself providing the Rays with 7.2 innings while allowing only 3 runs on 5 hits while striking out 7 and walking 1. The Royals cut the lead to 4-3 in the 8th inning but Jose Lobaton earned another cup of ice cream by hitting his 2nd home run of the season in the bottom of the frame and Fernando Rodney worked the 9th for his 39th save. There was a lot of chirping from the Royals dugout during the game toward home plate umpire Scott Barry about his strike zone.
James Shields on the strike zone:
"I don't think so, I don't think so," Shields said. "The front-door cutter to Francoeur, I thought maybe or maybe not. It was really close. But other than that, I thought the pitch to Hosmer was a really good pitch. I mean it was a changeup that was breaking down toward the outside corner. I haven't really looked at it yet, but [Rays catcher Jose Lobaton] didn't really catch it too well, and I think maybe that's what they were looking at. ... But I thought Scott was great back there." - mlb.com
Thursday, August 23rd: Alex Cobb notches first career Complete Game Shutout in 5-0 Rays victory.
Alex Cobb stated prior to the game that as he walked off the mound in Los Angeles after getting tuned up for 8 ER in 2.2 innings that all he wanted to do was start over and that he couldn't wait to get out there again.All he did Thursday evening to atone for his last start was to deliver a complete game shutout holding the A's to 4 hits while striking out 8 and walking 2.
A's Manager Bob Melvin on Cobb's performance:
"Just shut [us] down tonight," said Melvin. "We've been pretty good here offensively, but we just couldn't figure him out tonight. It was like every time we were looking for a fastball, he threw a breaking ball, and every time we were looking for a breaking ball, he threw a fastball, so he did a great job of mixing it up." - mlb.com
Joe Maddon on Cobb's performance:
"Well, he's a tough guy, we know that about him," Maddon said. "It's just who he is, so it doesn't surprise me that he was able to bounce back like he did. He does not want to be embarrassed like he was his last outing. And he feels like he is a Major League pitcher. He was a big part of what we did last year, and he's doing it again this year. And he's getting hot at the right time." - mlb.com
Friday, August 24th: Joel Peralta serves up the long ball in disappointing 5-4 loss.
Nobody expected the Rays bullpen to be perfect for the remainder of the season but that doesn't erase the disappointment of watching the A's turn a 3-3 tie game into a 5-3 lead thanks to a 2-out 2-run homer off the bat of ex-Ray Jonny Gomes. Matt Moore delivered a quality start going 6.1 innings allowing 3R/ER on 7 hits while striking out 7 and walking 1.
Joe Maddon on the loss and respect for Jon Gomes:
"That's a game we normally win," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "... I felt great about Joel being in that situation and moving in after that. It just didn't want to work out, it's unfortunate. I gotta give Oakland a lot of credit, though."
"I've always had a lot of respect for Jon Gomes, I've talked about that for years," Maddon said. "He's a good baseball player. The guy cares and he beat us tonight. He beat us against a guy with an equally big heart in Joel Peralta. They're gamers and Jon came out on top tonight, but I'll always put my money on Joel Peralta" - mlb.com
Saturday, August 25th: A's best Rays 4-2 to take series.
The Rays finished a sting of 19 games in 19 days by dropping the series finale to the Oakland A's by a final score of 4-2. Jeremy Hellickson wasn't sharp allowing 4 runs in 5 innings of work and the offense only generated 4 hits and 2 walks against Brandon McCarthy, Sean Doolittle, and Grant Balfour.
Joe Maddon on the 19 game stretch and what the Rays need to do moving forward:
"It's the latter part of a tough stretch for us where we've done really well," Maddon said. "Our body of work for the month is pretty good. You'd like to win every game that you play, but it's not going to work out that way. You want to be perfect every night. It's not going to work.
"So, overall, I'm really pleased with what we've been doing. ... At the end of the day, you can't win them all, but I'm really pleased with our surge right now. And I believe it will continue. We just have to hit with more consistency, I'm certain that's going to happen." - mlb.com