The Rays had an 18-10 record in August but as September began they still found themselves trailing the AL East leading Boston Red Sox by 9 games and the Wild Card leading Yankees by 7.5 games. The month of August included 5 walkoff victories and this would simply serve as a warm-up for the events that transpired in September. The games of the month series will look at the games that led up to the final series of the season against the New York Yankees as those games belong in a class all by themselves.
There were a slew of fantastic games in September. Here are several that didn't make the cut.
September 3rd: B.J. Upton's 5 RBI lead Rays to 6-3 victory over the Orioles.
September 4th: Jeremy Hellickson hurls complete game as Rays defeat Orioles 8-1.
September 5th: James Shields throws 11th complete game as Rays defeat Rangers 5-1.
September 9th: Wade Davis throws complete game as Rays defeat Red Sox 7-2.
September 25th: Wade Davis 8 strong innings and Rays belt 4 homers to defeat the Blue Jays 6-2.
The Rays Game of the Month: June (HERE)
The Rays Game of the Month: July (HERE)
The Rays Game of the Month: August (HERE)
Game Highlights After The Jump:
September 7th: Rays reach 1000th franchise with 5-4 victory over the Rangers on Desmond Jennings walk-off.
The Rays held a 4-3 lead entering the 9th inning but Ian Kinsler hit a 1-out homer off Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth to tie the game at 4-4. Mark Lowe entered the game for the Rangers to pitch the bottom of the 10th and Desmond Jennings, mired in a 3-35 slump, hit Lowe's first pitch for a walk-off homer. The victory moved the Rays to 7 games behind the Yankees and Red Sox in the race for the post-season.
September 10th: Evan Longoria walk-off single bails out Farnsworth to defeat the Red Sox 6-5 in 11 innings.
The Rays held a 5-3 lead heading to the top of the 9th and Joe Maddon called on Kyle Farnsworth to close out the Red Sox. Unfortunately, Farnsworth surrendered back to back homers to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury for his second blown save in a row. Terry Francona called on Jonathon Papelbon to work the 9th and 10th innings and went to Daniel Bard for the 11th. Desmond Jennings led off the inning with a triple and Bard retired B.J. Upton on a ground out to bring Evan Longoria to the plate. Inexplicably, Terry Francona elected to have Daniel Bard pitch to Evan Longoria who singled in the game winning run to give the Rays a 6-5 victory. The win moved the Rays to within 4.5 games behind the Red Sox in the race for the Wild Card.
September 17th: Matt Moore shines in relief as Rays defeat Red Sox 5-3.
Jeff Niemann worked the first 5 innings on 89 pitches but Joe Maddon elected to remove him from the game and bring in rookie Matt Moore to protect a 4-2 lead. Moore walked two batters in the sixth but escaped without damage and then settled down to provide the Rays 2 more innings leaving after giving up 1R/1ER and the Rays holding a 4-3 lead. With Kyle Farnsworth on the shelf with a bum elbow Joe Maddon turned to Joel Peralta to retire the Red Sox in the bottom of the 9th. The victory moved the Rays to within 3 games of the Wild Card.
September 22: Matt Moore K's 11 Yankees in 5 scoreless innings as Rays defeat Yankees 15-7.
Matt Moore made his first career start and dominated the Yankees over 5 shutout innings while walking 1 and striking out 11. The offense gave Moore a 3-0 lead in the first and added runs in each of the first five innings to give the Rays a 13-0 lead. The Yankees bats came alive after Moore departed putting up 7 runs over the final 4 innings in falling to the Rays 15-7. The victory moved the Rays to 2 games behind the Red Sox in the race for the Wild Card.
September 24th: Alex Torres shines after Niemann is removed after 1 inning as Rays defeat Blue Jays 6-2.
Jeff Niemann was unable to find his command in the first inning throwing 39 pitches and only 19 for strikes while surrendering 2R/2ER. The Rays, thanks to some spotty defense or help from the gods of baseball, came back to tie the game at 2-2. Joe Maddon elected to remove Niemann from the game and handed the ball to rookie Alex Torres. Torres sparkled as he cruised through 5 shutout innings giving up 5 hits while striking out 5 and only walking 1. Brandon Gomes worked the 7th, Joel Peralta the 8th, and Kyle Farnsworth finished the Jays off. The victory moved the Rays to within 1.5 games of the Wild Card with 4 games to go.