The Rays finished July with a record of 13-13 and finished with an overall record of 54-50 and fell to 3rd place 6.5 games behind the New York Yankees and 2.5 games out of the AL Wild Card. The Rays offense struggled hitting a major league low of .225 for the month averaging a tic under 4 runs a game (103 runs in 26 games). The pitching staff struck out 241 batters in 240.2 innings which was the second highest total since 1921 bested only by the 1964 Cleveland Indians who struck out 264. Fernando Rodney finished July with an overall 30 saves and an anemic ERA of 0.76. According the Rays Game Notes - since the save became an official statistic in 1969 no reliever had ever finished July with a better combination of saves and ERA the closest being John Smoltz (40 saves, 0.81 ERA in 2003) and Dennis Eckersley (32, 0.81 ERA in 1990).
The best games of the month of July are presented below. If you haven't had an opportunity to view the game of the month of April, May, or June the links are included below.
July 2nd: Rays take advantage of Teixeira error and defeat Yankees 4-3
The Rays trailed the Yankees 3-2 as the game headed into the bottom of the 7th. Brooks Conrad drove in Sean Rodriguez from first with a pinch hit double to bring Elliot Johnson to the plate. Johnson sent a slow roller that somehow got under the glove of Mark Teixeira to bring Brooks Conrad to the plate and take a 4-3 lead. Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney each worked a scoreless inning to make a winner out of Matt Moore to even his record at 5-5 and Rodney earned his 23rd save on the year.
July 8th: Rays comeback in 9th and shell Indians closer Chris Perez to defeat Tribe 7-6
On the last day of the first half it appeared as if the Rays were going to enter the all-star break with a loss as they entered the 9th inning trailing 6-4 and Chris Perez, who hadn't blown a save since opening day, was heading out to the mound. The inning included two odd moments. The first was a solo homer by light hitting infielder Will Rhymes to cut the lead to 6-5 and a RBI triple off the bat of Carlos Pena past a diving Michael Brantley to tie the game at 6-6. Pena came home with the go ahead run thanks to a Ben Zobrist single. Fernando Rodney came in to shut the Indians down in the bottom of the 9th to make a winner out of Joel Peralta and earn his 25th save on the season.
July 20th: Ben Zobrist walk off triple in the bottom of the 14th gives Rays 4-3 victory over Mariners
The Rays tied the game at 3-3 on a B.J. Upton single to plate Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the 7th. The Mariner and Rays bullpens held the opposition scoreless until the bottom of the 14th when Ben Zobrist delivered a triple to score Carlos Pena from first with the winning run to defeat the Mariners 4-3. The walk off hit completed a big game for himself as he finished the game 3-4 with 2 walks.
July 28th: Matt Moore leads Rays to 3-0 shutout over Angels
Matt Moore held the Angels scoreless for 6.1 innings and Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney worked the final 2.2 innings for a combined shutout over the LA Angels.
July 29th: Hellickson and bullpen lead Rays to second consecutive shutout 2-0 over Angels
Jeremy Hellickson followed Matt Moore's 6.1 scoreless innings with 6 of his own and Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney combined for 3 scoreless innings to lead the Rays to a 2-0 victory over the Angels and newly acquired Zack Greinke.
July 31st: James Shields dominates in complete game 8-0 victory over the A's
James Shields who was the subject of trade rumors and had only recorded 2 wins in his previous 13 starts was as dominant as any start in 2012 in allowing only 3 hits while striking out 11 and walking none.