We said tonight’s game should answer some questions about this struggling Rays team, and it did. After pummeling the Red Sox in the opener, the Rays beat them again tonight to win back to back games for the first time in six series. The Rays battled back from a 2-0 deficit and scored six unanswered to earn at least a split. We were attendance tonight and that fifth inning was one to remember. Let’s get to it.
What Went Right:
Evan Longoria came to dish with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth with the Rays trailing 2-1. After quickly falling behind in the count 0-2, Longoria evened it and deposited the 2-2 offering into the seats in left. It was the only hit on the night for Longo but it was all the Rays would need. Longoria now leads the league in RBI’s. Is it still too early for M.V.P. consideration?
Following Longoria’s blast was the nail in the coffin, Carlos Pena’s league leading 10th homer. If Pena can keep up with his production then Longoria will have excellent protection to keep hitting the way he has been. Now just imagine if Burrell could do the same for Pena.
Andy Sonnanstine struggled with his command all night. In a very uncharacteristic outing, Sonny issued four walks including one to Jason Bay with the bases loaded (on four pitches too). While that is never a good thing, he did work his way out of those situations limiting the damage to just two runs in 5.2 innings of work. It was good enough to earn him his first win of the season.
The bullpen continues to perform well as they gave up only one hit in the 3.1 innings of work it had tonight. Most notably would have to be Dan Wheeler’s outing. With two on and two out in the top of the seventh, Wheeler struck out Jason Bay looking to end the threat. He ended up fanning three of the four hitters he faced.
What Went Wrong:
The Rays were caught stealing third twice tonight, B.J. Upton in the first inning and Gabe Gross in the sixth. Gross’ steal attempt baffled us a bit because the Rays were up by four and had two on with no outs. Makes us wonder if it was a missed sign since Iwamura didn’t attempt to steal second. Either way, those are two more outs the Rays have ran themselves into on the base paths this season. While it didn’t come back to haunt them, it’s still a lingering issue they have to deal with.
The Rays will try for the series win tomorrow as Jeff Niemann squares off against Tim Wakefield. Wakefield does have a good history against the Rays and has been throwing very well this season, but he has struggled lately in the Trop. Hopefully the balls that flutter in can flutter out into the seats.