With last night's 7-4 victory over the Twins the Rays winning ways continued, and allowed them sole possession of second place in the AL East by the end of the night. On June 23rd, just 15 days ago, the team was in last place in the division. Yes, they've played some of the worst teams in the American League this year the past few series, but wins are wins nonetheless.
Who to credit for their recent success? The offense, defense and the pitching. Over their last nine games, the Rays have outscored opponents 52-18, outhit them 75-44 and have not committed an error in nine straight games. Yunel Escobar has been especially flawless, going 46 consecutive games error-free, the second-longest streak by a shortstop in team history. Meanwhile, the starting rotation has worked at least six innings in 17 of the last 19 games.
Roberto Hernandez helped keep the rotation's numbers going last night, recording his third straight quality start in six innings with eight hits, three runs, three walks, three strikeouts and a home run. It wasn't his sharpest outing, but the bullpen stepped in and protected the tie, only allowing two hits and one run, all from Jamey Wright, in the three innings of relief from Alex Torres, Joel Peralta, Wright and Fernando Rodney
The Rays offense struck first, taking an early 2-0 lead, then tying up the game in the fifth after the Twins were ahead 3-2. The seventh provided three runs via a Yunel Escobar solo homer followed by a triple from Desmond Jennings, which was succeeded with a two-run shot from Ben Zobrist. In their past 31 games the Rays have outhomered their opponents 38-22, and Escobar's home run last night was their 100th on the season.
Oh, and the cherry on top of the winning sundae? The Rays notched their 50th win last night, in their 90th game, the third fastest time they have done so in franchise history. The only two times they have reached 50 faster? 2008 and 2010, both years that they won the AL East. Yes, the division is a very different beast this year, so who knows if it really matters; but you can't hate history.
All Star Game Updates
The hitters for the Home Run Derby were announced yesterday, with the following players:
NL: Captain David Wright selected Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Bryce Harper.
AL: Captain Robinson Cano chose Prince Fielder and Chris Davis, and has yet to announce his third pick.
Yesterday Danny shared his guesses pre selection, picking at least Chris Davis and Jose Bautista; only one of which who were chosen, and the final spot still remains. He suggested Wil Myers for that Derby slot... thoughts?
Oh hey, 2008!
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Garza with a 0.97 ERA over his last five starts, all with Navarro behind the plate.</p>— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) <a href="https://twitter.com/PWSullivan/statuses/354447100827811842">July 9, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
- The All Star Game selection snubs continue to be discussed, this time on Sports Illustrated's The Strike Zone, with no Longo remaining one of the most agreed upon glaring errors.
- Only eight players 21 or younger have appeared in the majors this year, but four of them are All Stars: Manny Machado, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Jose Fernandez. There have never been four players that young who have appeared in the same All Star game.
- I mean, why not: all of Chris Davis' 33 home runs this year, in one glorious GIF.
<iframe src='http://mlb.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=28729037&width=400&height=224&property=mlb' width='400' height='224' frameborder='0'>Your browser does not support iframes.</iframe>