This is getting old, but I mean that in the best ways possible.
In front of 26,000 people on a weekday afternoon the Rays completed the sweep of the Tigers with a 4-2 victory. The victory brings the Rays to 25 games over .500 and keeps the momentum going for this weekend's series with the Yankees. Victory was possible today mainly because of two people; David Price and Carlos Pena.
Even though Price's fastball dropped back down to it's normal average velocity - He was averaging 97 in his last start, 94.66 today - he was able to overpower the Detroit hitters. He would end the day pitching just 6.1 innings but did strike out nine. Price threw 96 fastballs on the day and got swinging strikes on 19 of them. That's absurd. He constantly challenged hitters up in the zone, and thats probably a good thing since the home plate umpire didn't seem to want to call the low strike as you can see below:
Today's offense rested nearly entirely on the bat of Carlos Pena. The slugging first basemen got the scoring going in the second inning by blasting his 23nd home run of the season into deep right field. With the bases loaded in the third, Pena lined a ball off the glove of Miguel Cabrera. The ball deflected away and rolled enough to allow Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez to score while also letting Carlos Pena reach safely. A similar situation arose in the 9th inning as Pena lined another ball off the glove of Cabrera, and Rodriguez trotted home safely once more. Of the six hits the Rays had on the day, Pena accounted for four of them while also driving in all four runs.
- Amazingly enough, for the third straight game Miguel Cabrera came to the plate in the 7th inning with two men on in a close game. For the third straight game Joe Maddon decided to intentionally walk Cabrera to face Brennan Boesch. The previous two nights it was Grant Balfour who faced Boesch, but with the Aussie unavailable it was Choate's job to finish. He obliged. As Jonah Keri tweeted after the inning "run expectancy asplode."
- We say it every time someone else plays centerfield, but, man, it sure is noticable how easy B.J. Upton makes it look. Will Rhymes tripled today on a ball that Upton would have cut off and held to a single. I was at the game so I didn't have the benefit of replay, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong in saying that. It just didn't look like that ball should have made it to the wall.
- Wins isn't a good way to measure a pitcher's abilities, but it's still cool that David Price picked up his franchise record tying 14th today.
- Big kudos go out to Dan Wheeler for collecting a two inning save and helping rest a tired bullpen. Soriano, Benoit, and Balfour get most of the press, and rightfully so, but Dan Wheeler has quietly been extremely impressive this season.