Is it weird to lose a series, yet come out of it feeling content with the results? Obviously I would have liked the Rays to win tonight, but I simply can't get myself upset that they lost; they played well this series, fought hard in each game, and could have easily won these games if a few more things had gone their way. The Red Sox are a good team -- even if the Rays didn't win this series, it feels to me like a moral victory.
The reason the Rays didn't win last night can be summed up pretty easily: David Price didn't have his A-game. His fastball velocity was lower than it's been in recent games -- averaging only 93 MPH instead of 95 -- and he didn't have much success at getting the Red Sox to swing and miss on any of his pitches. His command was the worst its been all year, walking five batters, and he allowed a total of 10 baserunners through only five innings. He still managed to leave with the Rays in the game, only two runs behind, but the Rays' offense struggled to get anything going against Clay Buchholz.
Offensively, the Rays were led by Casey Kotchman -- I'm typing that a lot these days -- who had two hits, both of them clutch. His first hit was a homerun in the sixth inning, pulling the Rays to within only one run, and his second hit was a double to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. He was stranded after Elliot Johnson had a failed sacrifice bunt attempt and Ruggs and Rodriguez struck out, but you couldn't have asked for better timing for those two hits.
B.J. Upton also had a good day at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk and two stolen bases. His patience and base running got the Rays their first run of the game -- walk, stolen base, and scoring on a Sam Fuld double -- and he followed up Kotchman's double in the ninth with a single of his own. Sadly, Kotchman and Upton were the only two Rays to really get anything going on offense.
- The big news of the night was that Matt Moore threw the first complete game no-hitter in Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A) history. He struck out 11 and only walked 2, putting a big cap on an already fantastic season. His line this year has been nuts: 77.2 IP, 52 H, 21 ER, 23 BB, 103 K (!!!). This was his first career complete game, so wow, Matt Moore's prospect stock is skyrocketing.
- Before the game, the Rays signed two of their first round picks: No. 52 LHP Blake Snell and No. 56 OF Kes Carter. The Rays have now signed three of their top 12 picks of the Draft (first two rounds). The Poughkeepsie Journal has a video interview with Carter, so check it out if you'd like to learn a bit more about him.
As Collette pointed out to me in an email (I had to listen to the game on the radio), another one of Price's problems was that after getting warned for hitting Kevin Youkilis in the first inning, Price was very timid about throwing inside and worked the outside corner almost exclusively. Who knows if the beaning was intentional or not -- it kinda seemed intentional, in my mind -- but add this as yet another reason why retaliating isn't a good idea.