This week the Rays hit the road against two of the three teams in front of them in the wild card chase. First to fall were the Orioles then the Angles to give the Rays a 4-2 record for the week. Overall they are only 52-49 on the season and trail the New York Yankees by 7.5 games but find themselves only 2 games out of a wild card spot.
The Rays are pitching like we had hoped coming out of spring training. Now if only the defense and offense could pick things up. The defense is something that has been getting better and the return of Evan Longoria and Luke Scott's can't hurt.
The Rays have moved beyond the point of hurt feelings and as the team navigates the final few months Carlos Pena may not find his name in the lineup card against LHP and some RHP, James Shields, if not traded, may have lost the right to work out of those tight 5th to 7th inning jam, and we may see more Sam Fuld in place of B.J. Upton as well. Regardless of how all this shakes out the key to the final two months will be scoring runs...it would be a shame to waste the pitching staff assembled in 2012.
The Rays continue on to Oakland to take on the Athletics for 3 games and return home to start a 6 game homestand. After an off day Thursday the Rays will take on the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.
Wild Card Standings:
Oakland (55-46), Angels (55-47) Detroit (54-48, 1 game back), Baltimore (53-49, 3 games back), Tampa Bay (53-49, 2 games back), Toronto (51-50, 3.5 games back).
Upcoming Wild Card Schedules:
The LA Angels will travel to Texas for 4 games and then to Chicago to take on the White Sox for a weekend series.
The Baltimore Orioles travel to New York to take on the Yankees for 3 games before heading to St. Petersburg to take on the Rays for 3.
July 24th: Activated Sam Fuld from the 60-day disabled list, transferred Evan Longoria to the 60 day disabled list, and optioned Brandon Gomes to AAA Durham.
July 25th: Acquired Ryan Roberts from the Arizona Diamondbacks for AA infielder Tyler Bortnick. Designated Hideki Matsui for assignment.
July 27th: Sold the rights to AAA 1b/DH Brandon Allen to the Fukoka Softbal Hawks of the Japanese Central League.
Evan Longoria is rehabbing in Durham. If all goes well he is expected to return as the Rays DH when the Rays open up a 3 game series with the Baltimore Orioles next weekend.
Jeff Niemann said he felt strong and sharp during a 50-pitch bullpen session. He targets a late August return.
Luke Scott was placed on the disabled list July 21st and is eligible to come on August 4th. No timetable has been set.
What Does Sternfan1 Have To Say:
G'morning Rays fans What a surprisingly good this road trip has started out to be. The run scoring still sucks, the BA w/RISP is still poor but who cares, we won two series versus the teams directly above us in the WC hunt.
As for the possible trade of James Shields even if we're still in the hunt, if Andrew Friedman is offered a package 'north of the Greinke return' he needs to do it. This in no way deters our effort for the playoffs.
Friedman should look at the deadline to buy and sell if that makes any sense. I for one would no longer advocate selling off pieces without a return that helps this year's team. We're in it to win it. Off to Oakland to sweep the A's As always Go Rays!
Tuesday, July 24th: Rays 3 Orioles 1
Brooks Conrad gave the Rays a 2-1 lead with a 2-run homer in the top of the 5th and that was all that Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays bullpen needed on their way to a 3-1 victory.
Joe Maddon on Hellickson's outing:
"[Hellickson] was more aggressive with his fastball I thought in the strike zone, and his curveball was a weapon tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He was not tap dancing with the fastball. When he's able to really throw, he's got a good fastball. He's got his best fastball, probably that I've seen since I've known him, over his last three or four starts." - mlb.com
Wednesday, July 25th: Rays 10 Orioles 1
The Rays put up 5 runs in the first inning off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Newcomer to the Rays belted a 2-run homer and David Price held the Orioles to 1R/1ER on 7 hits over 7 innings while striking out 10 and walking only 1. Jose Lobaton hit his first career home run and was treated to ice cream courtesy of Luke Scott in the dugout.
Joe Maddon on Lobaton's receiving ice cream in the duguout:
"It's OK to deliver the ice cream, it's kind of different when the guy actually eats it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But there was no doubt in my mind that Lobaton would eat a cup of ice cream if it's presented to him at any time of the day, especially following his first big league home run. I was fine with it." - mlb.com
Jose Lobaton on the ice cream:
"That was delicious," - mlb.com
Thursday, July 26th: Orioles 6 Rays 2
Baltimore scored 5 runs in the 5th inning off James Shields in avoiding the sweep with a 6-2 victory.
Joe Maddon on James Shields rough outing:
"[Shields is] throwing well, it's just kind of exasperating for him not being able to put hitters away in those moments when he normally is able to do so," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's these little command issues with him that normally do not occur." - mlb.com
Friday, July 27th: Angels 3 Rays 1
Dan Haren shut the Rays offense down and Alex Cobb was the tough luck loser as the Angels defeated the Rays 3-1. The Rays solo run came on a Jeff Keppinger homer.
Joe Maddon on Jeff Keppinger:
"Theoretically, he was supposed to be more of a role player," Maddon said. "And he's definitely moved well beyond that. When there are people in scoring position, you want him to hit, because you know he's going to have a good at-bat.
"You know he's probably going to move the baseball. And that's very attractive, because we have a tendency to not move the ball often enough with people in scoring position. To this point this year, I have really appreciated his at-bats." - mlb.com
Saturday, July 28th: Rays 3 Angels 0
The Rays offense built the picket fence by putting up single runs in each of the first innings of Angels starter C.J. Wilson. Matt Moore, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney made the lead stand up holding the Angels scoreless on 5 hits while combining for 11 strike outs while walking only 2. The key moment of the game came in the fifth inning when the Angels loaded the bases with 1-out for Albert Pujols but Moore got ahead in the count 1-2 and got him to pop out to shortstop Sean Rodriguez. Moore then uncorked a wild pitch that took a fortunate bounce back to Jose Molina who fired to Moore to nail Bobby Wilson trying to score.
Matt Moore on the Wilson play at the plate:
"That was a huge play to end the inning," Moore said. "I was probably a little too pumped up for that particular moment. I think I yanked a fastball. It took a good bounce to him and he gave me a perfect throw. We practice those plays during Spring Training. ... It was a good feeling to bring my glove around and see Wilson just barely sliding there on his chest." - mlb.com
Sunday, July 29th: Rays 2 Angels 0
Jeremy Hellickson overcame a bout with the flu and combined with Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney to shutout the Angels for the second straight day.
Sunday, Game 7: