The Rays Tank: Sweet Plays and a Sweep of the Padres

USA TODAY Sports

The Rays offense, defense and pitching all clicked this weekend as the Rays swept the Padres in a three-game series at the Trop.

In this past weekend’s series against the San Diego Padres, the Rays bats were alive, pitching was fairly strong, and the defense was impressive. The Rays defeated the Padres 4-2 yesterday, completing the sweep while winning their fifth straight game and improving to 19-18 on the season. This is the first time the Rays have been above .500 since April 6th when they were 3-2.

Robert Hernandez threw six innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out four batters. He threw 95 pitches, 59 for strikes and six were swinging. Per the Rays post-game notes, Hernandez recorded 7 ground outs to 3 fly outs and his career 2.45 GB-to-FB ratio ranks 4th in the majors since 2006.

Hernandez told reporters after the game,

“I feel very, very comfortable. Keeping the ball down, throwing strikes, ground balls. I’m very, very happy…I feel more comfortable throwing the ball down. I just want to have quick innings…I’m very happy with the team hitting and winning games. I try to keep the game close and give a chance to win…I’m happy here on this team with everybody.”

Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney came in to pitch the seventh through ninth innings and continued the bullpen’s 13.2 inning streak of not allowing an earned run. Rodney recorded his sixth save of the season and has only allowed one hit in his past three appearances while striking out six. Perhaps he’s not as emotionally fatigued anymore as he was during his first month back from the World Baseball Classic.

James Loney homered for the second game in a row, this one a shot to right center that barely cleared the fence. He is now hitting .376 on the season, just shy of Miguel Cabrera’s .379 average. Adam Berry of MLB.Com wrote about Loney’s offensive production being a pleasant surprise for someone that the Rays had picked up mainly for his defense at first base.

For a full recap of the game, you can check out Gareth’s article here.

Onto the Highlights:

Sam Fuld made a brilliant leaping catch in the top of the first to rob Will Venable of an extra base-hit that garnered quite a humorous response from Hernandez on the mound.

In the top of the ninth, Matt Joyce took over for Sean Rodriguez in right field and made this wonderful catch that looked more like something you would see at Raymond James Stadium.

Joe Maddon accurately summed up this weekend’s series in one tweet:

The Rays have a day of rest today before Boston comes in to town for a three game series. The Red Sox will likely be without Shane Victorino as he was taken to the hospital for evaluation after injuring himself on this play during yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays.

Expected pitching matchups for the series are Tuesday: John Lackey vs. Matt Moore, Wednesday: Jon Lester vs. David Price, and Thursday: Felix Doubront vs. Alex Cobb.

Around the AL East:

Boston has lost their last two games to Toronto. The Red Sox fell two games behind the Yankees who are currently in first place in the AL East with a record of 23-13. The Yankees are expected to play a double header in Cleveland tomorrow with the first game starting at 12:05. The Orioles just took two of three from the Twins, improving their record to 23-15, one game back of the Yankees. They will see the Padres next for a two-game series. The Blue Jays bring up the rear at 15-24, nine and a half games out of first as they host the Giants next for a two-game series.

Links:

-Players around the league talk about wearing pink to honor their mothers and promote breast cancer awareness on Sunday.

-Other players talked about not being able to use pink bats yesterday because they were not made by Louisville Slugger.

-Over at Baseball Prospectus, Jose Molina once again had some of the top frames of the week.

-Mariano River and Joba Chamberlain exchanged some words in the dugout before the game on Saturday while Mo was trying to give interviews to the media and Chamberlain was chirping loudly in the background to his family in the stands. Come Sunday, everything was fine and dandy between the two as made evident in their staged picture that the Yankees PR department tweeted out.

-Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians tweeted out this picture explaining what caused the hole in his pants during yesterday’s game.

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