It's Labor Day and the Rays find themselves coming off a 3-4 week and are currently 9.5 games behind the Yankees for the AL East title and 8 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card. Let's enjoy some day baseball on Labor Day as the Rays host the Texas Rangers at 1:10 this afternoon. The Rays week includes two teams currently in the post-season as the Rays host the Rangers for 3 games and the Red Sox for three games. The Yankees will host the Baltimore Orioles for 3, travel to Baltimore for a makeup game, and then move on to Anaheim for a weekend series. The Red Sox will travel north of the border to take on the Blue Jays for 4 games and then on to Tampa for the weekend.
Week's Highlights after the jump:
Monday: Despite two HRs by Johnny Damon, Rays fall to Ricky Romero and the Jays 7-3.
The Blue Jays entered Monday's game in jeopardy of suffering their first home 4 game sweep since falling to the Boston Red Sox May 31 through June 3, 2003. Wade Davis was ineffective in his 4.1 innings of work giving up 6R/6ER on 9 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3. Johnny Damon was the star of the Rays offense hitting 2 home runs and driving in all three of the Rays runs. The Rays had chances for big innings but were short circuited by two hard struck balls by Ben Zobrist and one by Sean Rodriguez that resulted in double plays.
Joe Maddon on the double plays:
"You look at the three double plays, all well struck," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "That is just bad baseball luck. Rodriguez to third base and two by Zobrist up the middle, those balls were properly struck and they were two outs." - mlb.com
Wade Davis on his outing:
"I just didn't have good command of anything," Davis said. "I had good stuff. It was kind of an uphill battle the whole day. It was frustrating to feel good and not be able to put the ball in good spots."-mlb.com
Tuesday: Rays offense lets Jeremy Hellickson down as Texas defeats Rays 2-0.
The Rays were unable to get anything started against Rangers starter Scott Feldman or a quartet of Rangers relievers who combined to shut the Rays. Jeremy Hellickson worked six innings giving up 2R/2ER on 6 hits while striking out 4 and walking 4. The big hit on the night was a mammoth home run by Josh Hamilton off Hellickson.
Maddon on losing close games:
"Time is running out because of these kinds of losses," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to figure out a way to win these kinds of games." - mlb.com
Maddon on Josh Hamilton's 449 foot home run:
"That was properly struck," Maddon said. "That would have done Robert Redford proud right there."
Asked where Hamilton's shot would have landed had he hit it at Tropicana Field, the Rays' manager quipped: "That would have hit the back wall. It would have hit the scoreboard. It would have hit his image I believe." - mlb.com
Wednesday: James Shields pitches 8 shutout innings as Rays defeat Rangers 4-1
James Shields played the role of stopper for the Rays and delivered 8 shutout innings in the Texas heat surrendering only 4 hits while striking out 7 and walking only 1. The key for Shields was inducing a double play ball with the bases loaded in the first inning. Johnny Damon added his 14th home run for the Rays. Kyle Farnsworth made his first appearance since August 23rd and looked rusty while allowing 1 run but seemed to gain velocity and command as the inning progressed.
Joe Maddon on James Shields performance:
"He pitched kind of his normal game," Maddon said. "It's hard to do that here against this ballclub under these circumstances with the warm air and the wind kind of kicking out. ... That's who he is. You can see he wanted to do that. It was all about pitching deep into that game." -mlb.com
James Shields on his performance:
Thursday: Jeff Niemann struggles as Rays drop series finale 7-2.
Jeff Niemann was unable to keep the ball down and the Rangers took advantage putting up 5R/5ER on 6 hits in 5 innings of work. Meanwhile, Rangers starter CJ Wilson retired the first 15 Rays hitters before Casey Kotchman singled up the middle (off Wilson's hand) to lead off the sixth inning. The Rays lost the series 2-1 but still finished a road trip through Toronto and Texas with a winning record of 4-3.
Joe Maddon on goals for the remainder of the season:
"It's no fun [to be in the Rays' position]," Maddon said. "But I'll tell you one thing. Until the math tells me otherwise, even if we cannot arrive at that point, my goal, the second goal, would be to have the third-best record in the American League, and that's definitely within our reach. ... The math does not permit me to shift my focus [yet]." -mlb.com
Matt Joyce (link for video of catch) on CJ Wilson and the Rays offense:
Friday: Rays offense lets David Price down as Orioles defeat Rays 3-2.
David Price had one bad inning where he issued walks to Robert Andino and Mark Reynolds and a bad hop ball that was unable to be turned into an out which enabled the Orioles to score all three of their runs. Price worked 7 strong innings giving up 3R/3ER on 4 hits while striking out 11 and walking 3. It was the 13th time this season that a Rays starter has gone at least 7 innings or more giving up 3 runs or less.
Joe Maddon on the Rays:
"I have nothing to complain about with our guys," Maddon said. "They come ready to play every day. Their effort's there, we just have had a hard time getting the big hit when we want to and when we need to." -mlb.com
Joe Maddon on Rays starting pitching:
Saturday Night: O's strategy backfires as Upton delivers key hits as Rays beat Orioles 6-3
Wade David gave up a 2-run home run in the first inning but the Rays fought back to tie the game in the bottom of the first thanks to a 2-out 2-RBI double by B.J. Upton. Matt Joyce delivered a RBI double in the bottom of the third inning to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. The game remained 3-2 until the bottom of the fifth inning when for the second time Orioles starter Alfredo Simon decided to issue the unintentional-intentional walk to the left handed hitting Matt Joyce in order to face the right handed hitting Upton with the bases loaded. Up0ton made Simon pay by lining a bases clearing double off the wall in left-centerfield to give the Rays a 6-2 lead (video here). Wade Davis pitched well enough for the victory going 6.2 innings giving up 3R/3ER on 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking 4. The Rays used J.P. Howell and Joel Peralta as a bridge to Kyle Farnsworth who worked a scoreless ninth earning his 23rd save of the season.
Joe Maddon on B.J. Upton's performance:
"We've always known that," Maddon said. "He's done that for us in the past and he came through with it tonight. It's in his future. You're going to see it. Don't forget, he's really young, he's got a lot to learn and he's going to learn it." -mlb.com
B.J. Upton on seeing Alfredo Simon work around Joyce to get to him:
"He definitely wasn't going to give in and give Matty something to hit, so I was just on the side preparing for my AB." "Nobody likes a guy in front of them walked to get to you. I think if you're a competitor, you want to rise to the occasion, but it just happened to work for me in that instance." - mlb.com
B.J. Upton post-game interview:
Jeremy Hellickson was given a 7-0 lead highlighted by a Sean Rodriguez home run and a bases clearing double by Reid Brignac. The story of the game was Hellickson who went the distance giving up 1R/1ER on 4 hits while striking out 1 and walking none. Hellickson threw 97 pitches on the afternoon with 67 of them being for strikes.
Hellickson on his performance:
"I knew they were swinging early," Hellickson said. "I didn't know my pitch count was that low. I just kept attacking the zone and they kept putting it in play." -mlb.com
Joe Maddon on Hellickson's complete game:
"It was 76 pitches and he was not really working hard to get his outs," Maddon said. "That's something I always look at, too. The kind of stress the pitcher is involved with during the course of the game. And it was not a stressful game for him. So all things considered, you can add up those innings and say he threw nine innings today. But you have to consider how he did it." - mlb.com
What does SF1 have to say this week?
Hello again Rays fans
This is the week we've dreaded, the one that for all practical purposes eliminates the Rays from any real chance at the post season. However, these remaining games still count and I will treat them that way.
This week saw our Rays go 3-4 v TOR, TEX and BAL, and again the starting pitching for the most part was solid while the offense wasn't.
It's no secret that offense is our biggest off-season need. We have scored well over 100 runs less than the Yankees and Red Sox and in order to catch them in the standings, we must close the gap in runs scored.
For the remainder of the season i'd like to see Brandon Guyer play regularly, but always with an emphasis on winning. And Joe Maddon echoes those thoughts..
It should be fun with seven games remaining versus BOS and NYY, helping decide who wins the ALE