The Skinny: The Tampa Bay Rays finished April with a winning record for the first time in franchise history. They ended the month with an 8-1 victory over the first place Baltimore Orioles. These two teams are now tied for first in the AL East.
The Pitching: The Rays got another great performance out of a starting pitcher, tonight it was Andy Sonnanstine’s turn. Sonnanstine went 8 innings, giving up the lone Baltimore run while striking out five hitters. Sonnanstine lowered his ERA to 4.42 in the win and improved his record on the season to 4-1. Kurt Birkins appeared in mop-up duty, pitching a scoreless 9th inning to end the game.
The Hitting: This game was actually pretty close up until the seventh inning. Heading into the 7th the Rays held a slim 3-1 lead. They put up a five spot in the 7th to put the game well out of reach. In the fourth with the game tied at one, Eric Hinske hit a two run homer to put the Rays up for the rest of the game. All five runs in the 7th inning were scored on RBI singles. Along with his home run, Hinske also walked three times. BJ Upton and Dioner Navarro each had two hits for the Rays.
What’s Next?: These two teams will play the rubber game of this series tomorrow afternoon at Camden Yards. Matt Garza will start for the Rays as he looks to get on track this season. Game time is 12:35pm.
The Skinny: The Rays saw their winning streak end and saw their rally fall short tonight against the first place Baltimore Orioles. The Rays fell behind 7-0 tonight but put up four runs in the seventh inning to get within three. However, that’s how the game would end, with the Rays falling to 14-12 on the season.
The Pitching: Jason Hammel started for the Rays and couldn’t get out of the third inning. He really struggled with his control, walking four men and giving up six hits in 2.2 innings before getting pulled. JP Howell came on for Hammel and gave up two runs in three innings and Scott Dohmann gave up two runs in 1.1 innings. The Rays pitching has been so good this season it was strange to see an off night.
The Hitting: The Rays got two more hits out of Dioner Navarro, he is now hitting .400 on the season (he was out with an injury) and he continues to swing a hot bat. BJ Upton hit a two run homer in the seventh inning to close the gap from 7-2 to 7-4 and gave the Rays a chance. Carl Crawford, who has been hot as of late, went 1-5 and left a team high five men on base.
What’s Next?: The same two teams will go at again tomorrow night with Andy Sonnanstine going for the Rays. Sonnanstine is 3-1 on the season with an ERA over 5.00. Even though he has pitched well lately, Sonnanstine is likely to be the odd man out when Scott Kazmir returns to the rotation from his injury.
The Skinny: The Tampa Bay Rays continued the best start in team history by sweeping the defending champion, Boston Red Sox 3-0. Over the course of the series the young Rays pitching staff kept at bay one of the top offenses in all of baseball. The Rays are now 14-11 on the season and have six straight games.
The Pitching: James Shields went up against Josh Beckett of the Sox and came out on top as he threw a complete game shut out. The Red Sox could muster only two hits (both singles) against Shields who needed less than 100 pitches to get through the nine innings. Shields also struck out seven and walked only one batter. He is now 3-1 on the season with an ERA of 2.54.
The Hitting: The Rays managed only five hits today but managed to turn it into three runs which was more than enough for Shields. Leading 1-0 in the seventh inning, Rays rookie third baseman slugged a solo home run off of Josh Beckett to put the Rays up 2-0. They tacked on another run in the 8th on a Carl Crawford double.
What’s Next?: As of right now the Rays and Orioles are tied for first place in the AL East. The two teams will face off in Baltimore for a surprisingly big three game series. The Rays have a day off on Monday and will send Jason Hammel to the hill on Tuesday.
The Skinny: The Rays have kept up their hot streak as they took two straight close ball games from the defending champion Boston Red Sox. The Rays won a close on in extra innings on Friday 5-4 and won in 9 innings on Saturday in pitchers duel 2-1. The Rays have now won five straight games and are 13-11 on the season.
The Pitching: Since the Rays are taking on the highest scoring team in the AL, their pitching needs to be at it’s best, and it has. On Friday Matt Garza started for the Rays and kept the Sox in check by allowing three runs over five innings. The bullpen then went the final six innings of the game and allowed only one run to the very powerful Red Sox line up. Scott Dohmann got the win as he got the final two outs for the Rays in the top of the 11th inning. On Saturday night Edwin Jackson looked to get back on track against Boston. Jackson threw seven innings of impressive baseball allowing only one run and striking out four hitters. Scott Dohmann got one out in this game to pick up the win (that’s a total of 1 inning for two wins for him). Troy Percival threw a perfect 9th to pick up save number five on the season.
The Hitting: Carl Crawford went 3-6 on Friday as he continued to swing a red hot bat and raised his average to .314 for the year. The Rays were patient at the plate as a club as they collected eight walks total in the game (Tim Wakefield was responsible for five of them). With the game tied at 4 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Nathan Haynes hit an RBI single that scored Carl Crawford and won the game for the Rays. The game winning hit came off of Mike Timlin. On Saturday night the Rays hitters were baffled by Clay Buchholz for most of the game. Through seven innings tonight the Rays only had one hit off of the young pitcher and no runs. However, Dioner Navarro singled in the 8th and Akinori Iwamura drove him home with a two run homer to put the Rays up for good at 2-1.
What’s Next?: The Rays will look to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow behind the arm of James Shields. The Rays hitters will have their work cut out for them as they will face Josh Beckett of the Red Sox. Game time is 1:40pm.
The Skinny: The Tampa Bay Rays continued their winning ways and kept the Toronto Blue Jays as they won on Thursday 5-3. The Rays moved to 11-11 on the season. The Rays got some timely hitting and solid pitching to pick up the win.
The Pitching: Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays after pitching a shut out his last time out. Sonnanstine didn’t throw a shut out but threw well enough to pick up his third win of the season. He lasted 6.1 innings and gave up all three of the Jays runs. Troy Percival came on in the 9th inning and threw a scoreless inning to pick up his fourth save of the season. He has yet to allow an earned run this season.
The Hitting: The Jays had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 but the Rays kept charging back into the game. Carl Crawford continued to swing the hot bat in the Rays line up as he collected three more hits and bumped his average over .300. Rookie Evan Longoria went 2-2 with a walk to go with a double and a triple.
What’s Next?: Matt Garza will start for the Rays tonight as they start their series against the Red Sox. This will be a good measuring point for the Rays, it will be helpful to see how they stand up against the defending World Series champs.
The Skinny: The Tampa Bay Rays won for the third time in their last four games by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3. The win bumps the Rays to 10-11 on the season and past the Blue Jays in the standings who are now in last place in the AL East.
The Pitching: Jason Hammel went up against Toronto ace Roy Halladay and came out the winner. Hammel went six innings and gave up three runs to get the victory, he is now 2-1 on the year. Dan Wheeler threw the 7th and 8th innings and Troy Percival threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his third save of the season.
The Hitting: Carl Crawford went 2-4 with two runs scored for the Rays. The Rays put up a four spot in the 6th inning to that gave them the lead for good. Down 3-1 in the 6th, Evan Longoria singled in a two runs to tie the game and Eric Hinske un-tied it with a run scoring single to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.
What’s Next?: Andy Sonnanstine will take the hill tomorrow night as the Rays wrap up their series with the Jays. Sonnanstine threw a shut out in his last start, against the Chicago White Sox. Game time is 7:10pm.
The Skinny: James Shields led the the Tampa Bay Rays to 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays improved to 9-11 on the season and got some important contributions from position players to go along with Shields’ performance.
The Pitching: Shields dominated the Jays tonight, keeping their hitters off of balance. Shields went seven innings and gave up all four runs although only two of them were earned. Shields is now 2-1 on the season and his ERA is now 3.30. Dan Wheeler came on and pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning and Troy Percival slammed the door shut in the 9th inning to pick up his second save of the season.
The Hitting: Dioner Navarro made his return to the Rays line up tonight and went 3-4 with a pair of RBIs. Eric Hinske also went 3-4 and was a single short of the cycle, he had two RBIs and scored three runs as well. Carlos Pena took home the golden sombrero as went 0-4, striking out in every at bat. Rookie, Evan Longoria hit his second homer of the season as well to help lead the Rays to a win.
What’s Next?: The Rays and Jays have two games left in their series. Tomorrow night Jason Hammel will start for the Rays against former Cy Young Award winner, Roy Halladay.
The Skinny: After shutting out the White Sox on Saturday the Rays had the tables turned on them today. The Rays were shut out 6-0 today and fell to 8-11 on the season. The Rays bats just couldn’t get their bats going against White Sox starter John Danks.
The Pitching: Edwin Jackson, looking to recover after his first loss of the season, failed to do so and was hit with the loss today. Jackson lasted just 4.1 innings and gave up six runs. Jackson had a very hard time today retiring Jim Thome as Thome went 4-5 on the day including a solo home run in the 1st inning to get things going for the White Sox. The Rays pen pitched the last 4.2 innings of the game and didn’t allow a run but it didn’t matter, the offense couldn’t close the gap.
The Hitting: The Rays managed just four hits today and had a really tough time piecing anything together. All four Rays hits today were singles and came from the top four in the order. The bottom five in the Rays order combined to go 0-15 with no walks and seven strike outs. The White Sox didn’t walk a single batter today and needed only 118 pitches to finish the game.
What’s Next?: The Rays have wrapped up their series with the White Sox and welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to town after a day off on Monday. James Shields (1-1, 3.52) will start for the Rays looking to win his second game of the season.
The Skinny: Andy Sonnanstine threw a complete game shut out against one of the better hitting clubs in baseball, the Chicago White Sox. The Rays won the game 5-0 and improved their record to 8-10 on the season.
The Pitching: Sonnanstine was the story today. He allowed only three hits to pick up his first career complete game and shut out. All three hits allowed were singles and he walked only one batter, throwing 106 pitches to complete the game. What made this so impressive is that the White Sox line up is full of patient, powerful hitters. Sonnanstine took them off of their game and dominated that intimidating line up. He struck out four.
The Hitting: The Rays picked up three runs in the second inning off of White Sox starter Mark Buehrle. BJ Upton had three hits, including a double, to bump his average on the season up to .343. Jonny Gomes scored twice and hit a triple. The Rays batters got 12 hits and a pair of walks against the lefty Buehrle in his seven innings of work.
What’s Next?: The Rays and Sox will finish their series this afternoon at 1:40 and the Rays will then head welcome the Toronto Blue Jays in on Tuesday for a series. Edwin Jackson will start today for the Rays as he looks to rebound from his first loss of the season.
The Skinny: After an impressive big league debut, Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann struggled tonight in a 9-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Rays dropped to 7-10 on the season but have scored more runs than they’ve allowed on the season.
The Pitching: Niemann won his big league debut earlier in the week, but couldn’t repeat that success tonight against one of the best teams in baseball so far. Niemann lasted only 3.1 innings after giving up 8 runs (5 earned). He really struggled with his control, issuing 4 free passes and giving up two home runs. Scott Dohman did a decent job in relief by throwing the final three innings and yielding no runs in the process.
The Hitting: Playing without an injured Carlos Pena the Rays offense just couldn’t get it going off of Javier Vazquez. Evan Longoria (and his new contract) smacked a double and had an RBI grounder in the 6th inning. BJ Upton went 2-3 with a pair of singles.
What’s Next?: Andy Sonnanstine will look to get his nearly 9.00 ERA down against the White Sox as he’ll get the start tomorrow night. Mark Buehrle will start for the Sox. Game time is 7:10pm.
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