Early on the month of August looked as if it was going to be a launching point for the Rays toward another playoff appearance. With the much needed return of Evan Longoria to the lineup and a pitching staff that was clicking on all cylinders the Rays began the month 16-5 but ended but fell off losing 6 of their last 7 to finish the month 17-11. Overall the Rays finished August with a 71-61 record and had closed to 4.5 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and were 2.5 games back in the wildcard.
The Rays pitching staff led the majors in ERA at 2.27 (a club record for any month). According to Rays Game Notes since 2000 only 3 pitching staffs have recorded a lower team ERA in a month: the Giants (1.78) in September 2010, the Padres (2.17) in May of 2007, and the Athletics (2.17) in August of 2002. The Rays bullpen posted an ERA of only 0.88 (7ER/69.2 IP) and Kyle Farnsworth (10.1IP), J.P. Howell (9.1IP), and Jake McGee (8.1IP) all worked scoreless months.The offense also began to click led by Jeff Keppinger's .369 in August which was second in the AL to Prince Fielder who hit .370 and B.J. Upton hit 7 homers and drove in 22 runs. His 7 homers were 3rd in the AL behind Albert Pujols (9) and Miguel Cabrera (8).
August 7th: Longoria Returns & James Shields leads Rays past Blue Jays 4-1
James Shields followed up his complete game shutout victory over the A's at the end of July with 8 solid innings allowing only 1 run, a Colby Rasmus solo homer, on 2 hits while striking out 6 and walking only 1. Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless 9th for his 33rd save of the year and extended his scoreless innings streak to 22. Evan Longoria returned to the Rays lineup since April 30th and went 1-3 with a sacrifice fly.
August 12th: Jennings lead Rays past Twins 7-3 in 10 innings
Desmond Jennings hit a led the game off with a homer and Jeff Keppinger led off the second with a homer to spot the Rays a 2-0 lead. The Twins came back to tie the game at 2-2 on a 2-run homer by Justin Morneau which scored Josh WIllingham who had reached base on a Jeff Keppinger error. The Twins took a 3-2 lead on a Joe Mauer single in the bottom of the 3rd in what turned out to be the last run James Shields would give up in his 7 innings of work.
The Rays tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the 5th on a Sean Rodriguez double to score Ryan Roberts. The game remained tied into the 10th inning when Desmond Jennings singled to lead off the inning, B.J. Upton walked and both runners were advanced a base on the sacrifice bunt by Ben Zobrist. After an intentional walk was issued to Evan Longoria to load the bases Jeff Keppinger grounded out to score Jennings and put the Rays up 4-3. The Rays added 3 more runs in the tenth inning. J.P. Howell came in to work the bottom of the 10th but with 2 on and 2-out Joe Maddon turned to Fernando Rodney to get the final out earning him his 36th save on the season.
August 18th: Rays comeback from down 7 to defeat C.J. Wilson and the Angels 10-8
Alex Cobb had nothing, zero, zip, zilch, nada. In 2.2 innings of work Cobb gave up a ridiculous 12 hits, allowing 8 runs to cross home plate. Joe Maddon had to be wondering how deep into the pen he;d have to go to make it through the game but then the 5th inning happened. After C.J. Wilson retired Jeff Keppinger to lead off the innings he allowed the next 5 men to reach base. Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Roberts, and Sam Fuld singled and Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings walked. Sam Fuld's single plated Sean Rodriguez to cut the lead to 8-1 and Roberts walk cut the lead to 8-2. Wilson struck out B.J. Upton for the second out but was unable to work out of the jam. Ben Zobrist cleared the bases with a double to cut the Angle lead to 8-5 and Evan Longoria homered to cut the Angels lead to 8-7 and end Wilson's evening.
The Rays tied the game on a Jose Lobaton sacrifice fly in the 6th inning and took a 10-8 lead on a Carlos Pena homer in the top of the 8th. The Rays used Burke Badenhop, J.P.Howell, Kyle Farnsworth, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney to shut out the Angels over the final 6.1 innings. The victory tied the Rays largest deficit comeback in franchise history.
August 23rd: Cobb tosses complete game shut out as Rays defeat A's 5-0
Alex Cobb had so making up to do after his last outing where he was torched for 12 hits and 8 earned runs in 2.2 innings but received a no decision thanks to the bullpen and an explosive offense. He made some adjustments between starts and the changes paid off as he through his first career complete game and first career shutout as the Rays defeated the A's 5-0. Cobb was in control from the very beginning of the game and allowed 4 hits while striking out 8 and waling only 2.