The Rays finished off the week by taking 2 out of 3 from the Texas Rangers which followed taking 2 out of 3 from the New York Yankees to finish their homestand with a record of 4-2. Overall they are 77-63 and are still eyeing winning the AL East and trail the New York Yankees by a slim 2 games in the AL East. The race for the second wild card is a 3 team battle with the Orioles leading by 1 game over the Rays and Angels and 4.5 games over the Tigers.
Upcoming Schedule: Big Road Trip
The Rays have a season defining road trip this week as after an off-day on Monday they will travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles for three and then go to New York for a weekend series against the Yankees.
AL East & Wild Card Contender Upcoming Schedules: List Hasn't Grown Shorter
The New York Yankees also enjoy an off day Monday before traveling to Fenway Park for three against the Red Sox before welcoming the Rays into Yankee Stadium for a weekend series.
The Baltimore Orioles, like the Yankees and Rays, also have an off day Monday before welcoming the Rays into town for a three game series. After their matinee with the Rays on Thursday afternoon the Orioles will head out west to take on the Athletics in Oakland.
The Oakland Athletics will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Angels for four games before hosting the Baltimore Orioles for three over the weekend.
First Jeff Niemann breaks his leg. Then on his comeback he gets hit on the hand and has to leave a start for x-rays. Finally, he makes his return to the mound and has to leave due to right arm tightness which turned out to be rotator cuff inflammation which he resulted in the never fun visit with Dr. James Andrews. Usually a visit to James Andrews is a harbinger of a negative outcome but this time the news was good for Niemann as he was told that he may resume throwing in a couple of weeks and may return by the end of the regular season.
David Price experienced stiffness in his shoulder and the Rays decided to skip his scheduled start Saturday against the Rangers as a precaution. Price played catch with trainer Ron Porterfield on Saturday and reported that he felt fine. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Tuesday and make a start in New York versus the Yankees.
Desmond Jennings is experiencing some stiffness in his lower back.
Sean Rodriguez is expected to be back at least in the role of pinch runner and defensive replacement when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on September 15th.
Monday, September 3rd: Rays 4 Yankees 3
Chris Gimenez was given a start against Yankee left hander C.C. Sabathia and drove in 2 runs including the eventual game winner in the bottom of the eighth inning off Yankee reliever David Robertson. James Shields out dueled C.C. Sabathia and Fernando Rodney came in to close the door in the 9th picking up his 41st save.
Although this was a plate appearance in early September Chris Gimenez said this about his 8th inning plate appearance:
"I told myself before I got in the box, 'This is definitely the biggest at-bat of your life,'" Gimenez said of the go-ahead hit. "So I might as well do something fun." - mlb.com
Tuesday, September 4th: Rays 5 Yankees 2
Alex Cobb gave up a 2-run home run to Robinson Cano in the first inning but settled in to shut down the Yankees for the next 6 innings. He allowed only 2R/ER on 4 hits while striking out 5 and walking 1 over 7 innings of work. Joe Maddon followed his successful script and used Joel Peralta in the eighth and Fernando Rodney came in to pick up his 42nd save. The Rays offense was carried by home runs by Evan Longoria and back to back shots by Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to put the Rays ahead for good in the 5th.
Alex Cobb on his first inning problems:
"The at-bat [before Cano] and [Cano's at-bat] were just two mental mistakes," Cobb said. "I can't walk Swisher, put a guy on, to get to Cano. Then, throwing him two fastballs belt high, that's what he's dreaming about there."- mlb.com
Cobb also spoke of the playoff type atmosphere the game had:
"All day, it was exciting; it was the closest thing I've had to a playoff game," Cobb said. "It was a lot of fun to go out in that environment and go out and pitch well. ... You try to keep an even keel throughout the whole season, but there was definitely an added focus factor to each and every pitch." - mlb.com
Wednesday, September 5th: Yankees 6 Rays 4
Elliot oh Elliot. Elliot Johnson had a game to forget as he failed to execute a squeeze bunt and made a crucial error in the 7th inning allowed 2 runs to score to give the Yankees the 6-4 victory.
Elliot Johnson on his wild throw home:
"I know Ichiro's running and the ball's not hit particularly hard," Johnson said. "I did my best to get rid of it as quick as I could and get it there as fast as I could. I [threw the ball] toward the third-base side, and obviously it went too far. It was up the line." - mlb.com
Friday, September 7th: Rays 3 Rangers 1
Evan Longoria hit a solo homer in the bottom of the 4th to give the Rays a 1-0 lead which was soon erased by Michael Young who hit a solo homer of his own in the top of the 5th off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. The game remained deadlocked into the bottom of the 11th when Ben Zobrist hit his first walkoff homer to give the Rays a 3-1 victory.
Joe Maddon gave Zobrist one message prior to his plate appearance:
"He said, 'If B.J. gets on, do not bunt," Zobrist said. "He said, 'swing away.'" - mlb.com
Zobrist on the walk off homer:
"That's the first time I've ever done it, never had a walk-off homer in my life," Zobrist said. "So regardless of whether it was Little League, high school, or college. I never did it.
"Today was a fun day. I've thought about it, if it's ever going to happen. You know when you're in the moment, you're just trying to have a good quality at-bat, and I just feel very blessed we were able to win the game tonight." - mlb.com
Saturday, September 8th: Rangers 4 Rays 2
Chris Archer was outstanding in place of David Price going 7 innings allowing only 2R/ER on 4 hits against a powerful Rangers lineup while striking out 11 and only walking 2. Yu Darvish held the Rays scoreless through the first 6 innings but the Rays generated a run in the 6th and unearned run in the 8th. Kyle Farnsworth retired the first two batters in the top of the 11th but surrendered back to back doubles to Geovany Soto and Jurickson Profar to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. The Rangers added a 4th run after Kyle Farnsworth hit Josh Hamilton with a pitch. Joe Nathan worked the bottom of the 11th for his 31st save on the season.
Joe Maddon on the loss:
"We came back, we did all the right things," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Just a good baseball game, they just beat us." - mlb.com
Carlos Pena was ejected "after the game!" for arguing with home plate umpire Mike Estabrook:
"With all due respect, I know that was a ball," Pena said. "I saw the replay and I saw the evidence, it was a ball. I did the right thing by taking it. Unfortunately, he thought it was a strike and their call stands." - mlb.com
Sunday, September 9th: Rays 6 Rangers 0
James Shields pitches a gem in delivering a complete game shutout. The Rays offense was powered by 4 homers including 3 by B.J. Upton.