The month of June was the worst month of the year for the Rays as they finished with a 12-15 record and fell to 4th place in the AL East with a record of 41-37. The Rays own press department laid out the month in review and the numbers were startling:
The Rays finished the month of June with a 12-15 record, their worst June since 2007 (11-15)...they hit .222 (199-for-897) as a team, lowest in the
ALand 2nd lowest in the majors to the Dodgers (.212)...it was the lowest batting avg. of any month in club history (previously .230 in May 2002)...the Rays were outscored 118-109, the first full month they were outscored since September 2009 (144-107)...the Rays hit only 18 HR in June, fewest in the ALand their lowest total for any full month since April 2005 (14). - Rays Game Notes (July 1st)
The Rays had to overcome more injuries in June when they lost Jeremy Hellickson to a shoulder strain, Matt Joyce to a back strain, and had to play short handed while Joel Peralta served a 8 game suspension after being caught with pine tar in his glove in Washington.
There were some good individual performances in June as David Price tied Scott Kazmir (May 2008) for wins in a month. Carlos Pena drew 19 walks which was only 1-shy of the Rays June record of 20 held by BJ Upton (2008) and Jose Cruz Jr (2004).
The best games of the month of June are presented below. If you haven't had a chance to view the game of the month of April and May the links are included below.
Rays 2012 In Review: Game of the Month April
Rays 2012 In Review: Game of the Month May
June 7th: David Price leads Rays over CC Sabathia and the Yankees 7-3
This game had a post-season feel to it from the very first pitch and although David Price only worked 5 innings it was his last inning of work that left quite an impression. The Yankees loaded the bases with 1-out in the bottom of the fifth inning looking to cut into the Rays 5-1 lead. Alex Rodriguez was at bat and worked the count full and worked an 11 pitch at-bat before striking out. Rodriguez continued to look for Price's fastball and instead received 4 straight off speed pitches. Robinson Cano was watching from the on-deck circle but he wouldn't see any of Price's off speed deliveries as Price poured six straight high 90's fastballs the last which was grounded weakly to 2nd for the final out. The Rays went on to win the game 7-3 and looking back on the season the Price vs Rodriguez and Cano matchups may have had the most drama of any matchups on the season.
June 19th: Rays 5 Nationals 4 - Joel Peralta & The Pine Tar Game
The Rays were kicking off a 9 game road trip and David Price was looking to come back from his worst outing of the year against the New York Mets where he gave up 7 runs in 5 innings. The Rays jumped out to a 5-0 lead and Price delivered a solid 7 innings of work allowing 4R/3ER on 6 hits while striking out 4 and walking 1. The exciting part of this game is not in the fact that the Rays won or the final score it will be remembered as the pine tar game.
With the Rays holding a 5-4 lead heading to the bottom of the 8th inning Joe Maddon replaced David Price with Joel Peralta. Davey Johnson requested that the home plate umpire inspect Peralta's glove and a "significant' amount of pine tar was discovered. The glove was confiscated, Peralta was ejected, and eventually served an 8 game suspension. As a Rays fan I have to admit I wasn't too unhappy to see the Nationals eliminated from the post-season and this game is a major reason why. It's not often we as Rays fans see Joe Maddon as animated as he was during the post-game as shown in the video below.
June 24th: Rays defeat Cole Hamels and the Phillies 3-2 in first game of key doubleheader
The Rays had the honor of facing two of baseball's toughest left handed pitchers in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in a doubleheader in Philadelphia. Hamels shut the Rays out on 3 hits over 7 innings striking out 7 and walking 3. Meanwhile, David Price looked to be heading to a tough luck loss giving up only a solo homer to Jimmy Rollins in the bottom of the 6th. Price worked 7 innings giving up just the 1R/ER on 4 hits while striking out 7 and walking 3.
Antonio Bastardo, another tough lefty, came in to replace Hamels in the 8th inning and walked Elliot Johnson and B.J. Upton to put runners at 1st and 2nd with 1-out and bring Carlos Pena to the plate. Pena hit the first pitch he saw out of the park for a 3-run homer to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. The Phillies cut the lead to 3-2 in the 8th inning but Fernando Rodney came in to slam the door in the ninth to give the Rays a 3-2 victory.
June 24th: Mosaic of pitchers defeat Cliff Lee and Phillies 7-3 to earn sweep of doubleheader
The Rays needed a starting pitcher for the second game of the doubleheader and even though they had Alex Torres available (additional player allowed to be added for doubleheaders) Joe Maddon elected to start...Cesar Ramos. Ramos, Wade Davis, and Brandon Gomes each gave the Rays 2.2 innings and J.P. Howell worked the final inning to preserve a 7-3 Rays victory. The Rays were matched up against Cliff Lee and they jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the 3rd and never trailed the remainder of the game. The offense was led by Brooks Conrad who drove in 4 runs on a pair of doubles.