Back in mid-June, we stated here that the upcoming month was going to have a large impact on if the Rays were buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The Rays were facing the Yanks and Red Sox 14 times in the coming month, and those games would go a long way toward determining if the Rays were still in the playoff race or not.
As R.J. noted the other day, things didn't go so well over that month. While the Rays went 17-14 over that stretch, they ended up losing (or tying) every series against the Yanks or Red Sox, winning 5 games and losing 8. That's a very respectable result, especially considering how close the games were and could have gone either way; three of the Rays' losses were decided by one run or less, and the total run differential from these games was 38-43.
So as bad as this past week has felt, the Rays haven't done half bad. They were going to need some lucky breaks to take the majority of these games from the Sox and Yanks, and that didn't happen. They're still in a respectable position (.536 winning percentage, 2nd place in the AL Wild Card race), but far enough back from a playoff spot that the odds are considerably against them. Such is life.
But anyway, on to last night's game. James Shields pitched well to lead the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Yanks. Shields racked up a high pitch count after a long first few innings, but he managed to last 7.2 innings while striking out six and only walking three batters. The one run scored late in the game on a doubles by Jeter and Cano, but Brandon Gomes and Kyle Farnsworth slammed the door on the Yanks over the final 1.1 innings.
Offensively, the Rays would have had almost nothing if not for Evan Longoria; he went 2-2 with a homerun, a single that ricocheted off third base, and two walks. The Rays scored their second run off a walk by Elliot Johnson and a triple from Sam Fuld, allowing the Rays to sneak a win against C.C. Sabathia.
As weird as it may sound, I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks. The trading deadline should be interesting, as the Rays could sell off multiple pieces, and we'll likely see more and more in the way of prospects soon. The Rays may not be in the thick of the playoff hunt anymore, but that doesn't mean the end of the season is going to be boring. Far from it, in fact.