The Tampa Bay Rays are back at the grind today, as they are set to start a three-game series against another fringe contender in the Wildcard race, the Chicago White Sox. Much like the Rays, this intrepid writer had a rough go of things this weekend, as I found myself listening to Friday’s game inside my stalled 2010 Subaru Forester while a deluge of biblical proportions fell around me. Yet things started to look up, both for the team and myself, by Sunday. Tampa Bay was able to walk away with a nice come-from-behind win in the series finale against that other "Sox" team ― battling back to win for just the third time this season in 45 games when trailing after seven innings.
Let’s take a look at this eventful past week is Rays baseball.
On Monday the Rays welcomed former ace David Price and his now other former team, the Detroit Tigers, into Tropicana Field for the start of a three game set. The team gave starter Nathan Karns five runs of support, as they took the series opener by a 5-2 margin, thanks in large part to Curt Casali who mashed a pair of homers.
Matt Silverman made his first of two non-waiver trade deadline moves on Tuesday, when he dealt left handed OF/DH David DeJesus to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for 20 year-old right handed flame thrower Eduar Lopez just prior the that evening’s contest. Meanwhile David Price took the mound, in what became his last start as a Tiger, and gave up five earned runs on seven hits, including two more homers by Casali. Curt became the first catcher with back-to-back multi-homer games since Mike Napoli in 2011.
On Wednesday, however, the Rays found themselves in a pitching duel between respective aces Chris Archer and Justin Verlander. A pair of unearned runs, thanks to a fielding gaffe by Asdrubal Cabrera, gave Detroit a one-run advantage that they wouldn’t relinquish. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.
Thankfully I was on hand for the game and got to see the catch in person. The outcome also started a collective cry by Rays’ fans for Silverman (and Kevin Cash) to either promote INF Richie Shaffer, or acquire another bat at the trade deadline. The Rays Republic sat idly by on Thursday, as rumors swirled about who on the roster might get dealt by Friday’s 4:00 pm deadline.
Meanwhile the Dodgers, Marlins and Braves put together a mega three-way trade, and the Blue Jays picked up Price for Daniel Norris ― a move that could impact Tampa Bay toward the end of the season. The Rays are projected to face the former ace twice more before the season’s end.
After news of the trade broke, Archer posted a controversial tweet (cough...one I happen to agree with):
If anyone wants to know what it looks like to be all in, check out the Jays. — Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher42) July 30, 2015
Friday saw the trade of Kevin Jepsen, for two pitching prospects, and the renewed call for the acquisition of a consistent (and productive) stick by bloggers, local journalists, and fans alike. Although a few other trade rumors spread leading up to the deadline, the team settled for two trades separated by a few days ― alas neither Cespedes nor Puig would don a Rays jersey.
It was disappointing that GM Matt Silverman didn't do more for a team that's in the wild-card race.
The team also lost the series opener to the Red Sox, in a game that was mired by three errors; two of which came in the first inning and cost Erasmo three unearned runs.
Despite an impressive rally from a six run deficit on Saturday, the fell 11-7 to Boston, and three games under .500 for the first time this season. That wasn’t the only thing to fall.
Steven Souza Jr. was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand after he got hit by a Joe Kelly fastball. The team also announced that Matt Moore (1-3, 8.78 ERA) would be optioned to Triple-A Durham, effective Monday, after struggling through another start. With several off-days in their schedule, Tampa Bay will use a four-man rotation for the time being. Souza was replaced on the roster by Mikie Mahtook, and the Rays replaced Moore with Richie Shaffer late Sunday night.
I've dreamed of making it to the Big Leagues my entire life and now it's here. And I couldn't have done it without all of you. Thank you!— Richie Shaffer (@Rshaff8) August 3, 2015
To their credit, the Rays offense ended the week with some pretty decent numbers. The team averaged 5.3 runs in the last six games, also finding a way to put up a .382 batting average with runners in scoring position over their last two series. One can hope that will carry over against the ChiSox.