Price Delivers Eight Scoreless, Right Handed Lineup Does Its Job
The Tampa Bay Rays moved to within seven games of the .500 mark at 46-53 by defeating the Minnesota Twins (44-52) by a final score of 5-1 on Saturday night.
The Rays were 24-42 on June 10th and were 15 games out in the AL East, 11 games out in the wild card and to to top it off had the worst record in the major leagues. In winning 22 of their last 33 games the team has cut the lead in both the AL East (8.5 games) and Wild Card (7 games) considerably.
Not only have the Rays cut into the division and wild card leads but they’ve passed several teams along the way. In the AL East the Rays are percentage points ahead of the suddenly resurgent Boston Red Sox and have moved ahead of the Rangers, Astros, and Twins.
Despite the win last night the Rays were unable to gain ground in the division or the wild card. They remain seven games behind the Seattle Mariners who defeated the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 late Saturday night. In the American League East they remain 8.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles who defeated the Oakland Athletics 8-4.
David Price (10-7, 3.06 ERA) held the Twins scoreless over eight innings of work allowing four hits while striking out nine and walking none.
Phil Hughes (10-6, 4.06 ERA) gave up all five of the Rays runs in his seven innings of work allowing 11 hits while striking out one and walking one.
Joe Maddon has been trying to get everyone in the lineup as the Rays have several off days coming out of the four day All-Star break. Last night he used a dominant right handed lineup against Phil Hughes who has held left handed batters to a .599 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) including a batting average against of just .237 (59 for 249). Meanwhile right handed batters carry a OPS of .837 including a batting average against of .338 (88 for 260).
In the media scrum before the game Joe Maddon said that he felt the Sean Rod might be able to reach the second deck at Target Field during the game.
It didn’t take long for Rodriguez to make his manager look clairvoyant as he belted a 2-out 2-run blast off Hughes in the top of the second to extend the Rays lead to 3-0.
Jose Molina had driven in the Rays first run with a RBI single to right that plated James Loney who had singled to lead off the inning.
The Rays added two more runs in the top of the seventh on a Jose Molina ground ball to Brian Dozier who thought about coming home with a throw to retire Logan Forsythe but was unable to field the ball cleanly and his only play was to get Molina out at first. After the misplay Sean Rodriguez picked up his third RBI on the day with an RBI single to score Yunel Escobar.
The Rays offense delivered 13 hits against the Twins pitching with Brandon Guyer, Logan Forsythe, James Loney, Sean Rodriguez, and Yunel Escobar each with a pair each.
The Twins broke up the shutout off an ineffective Juan Carlos Oviedo in the ninth inning as he Brian Dozier to lead off the inning. He retired Trevor Plouffe on a fly out to right before walking Kendrys Morales and giving up an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki. With 2-on and 1-out Joe Maddon went to Jake McGee who came in and retired the next two Twins to end the game and pick up his eighth save on the year.