Game 29: Rays 4 Yankees 3 F/10

Pena rounds the bases after his go-ahead homer in the 10th. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Pena rounds the bases after his go-ahead homer in the 10th. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Exam week has gotten the best of us lately but we urge you to hang in there with us as the worst is almost over. However we were able to watch last night’s game and it was a good one. The Rays seemed to be cruising, then losing, then got the big hit and was able to hang on (by a thread thanks to Troy Percival) for their first win in the new Yankee Stadium. The Rays are now three games under .500 and sit 6.5 games behind Toronto. Let’s see how it went down.

What Went Right:
Andy Sonnanstine had his best start of the season as he was able to keep the ball down. He was vintage Sonny going 7.1IP, 2ER, 6H, 0BB, 4K. It could have been zero runs had the bullpen been able to hold up but more on that later. Sonny was hitting spots all night and got the outs when he needed them. Let’s see if he can build off this start and start lowering that ERA. It’s a shame that he was unable to get the win.

Creeping toward the Mendoza line (from the other side) is Dioner Navarro who added two hits to raise his average to .195. He picked up a key RBI in the sixth with a two-out hit to give the Rays a three-run cushion which turned out to be the tying run. Although Navi in the ninth spot breaks up that “vicious circle” that Joe Maddon wants but Navi has benefitted from it thus far. Maybe it’s time to move some other people from their spots.

Atoning for his hat trick was Carlos Pena, who hit the game-winning homerun in the 10th. Pena had some good at-bats throughout the game and was able to maintain his focus and put his team on top. He still continues to lead the Bigs as he now has 12.

Dan Wheeler had a text book outing against Derek Jeter in a high leverage situation back in the eighth. With two in scoring position, Wheeler came in exclusively to face Jeter and he did his job. He got Jeter to foul off the first pitch. Then followed with a slider out of the zone to see if he could get him to chase but Jeter held up. Wheeler followed with a fastball for strike two then painted the corner beautifully to ring up Jeter.

Carl Crawford remains perfect on the bases as he swiped steal number 20. He’s also recorded an SB in nine consecutive games.

What Went Wrong:
J.P. Howell did not have as good an outing as Wheeler. In fact it was awful. We know that it was a torrential downpour when he was facing Mark Teixeira and Howell is a touch pitcher. But had he not walked Jonny Damon on five pitches, he could have gotten out of the inning unscathed and before the rain. Instead he gave up a double which scored all three runs to tie the game.

I wish Troy Percival could understand that we would like an uneventful inning when he comes on. We don’t like watching you getting Jeter to groundout and then immediately follow that by giving up a double Damon. Oh and then a wild pitch to put the tying-run on third with only one out. How you got Teixeira and Matsui fly out to shallow right and left respectively, is beyond us. Once again Percival got the job done his way, which requires us to bury our heads into our hands and let Dwayne Staats’ voice guide us to a potential victory.

It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Rays were 2-11 with RISP.

What’s Next:
Final game of the two-game series will see Jeff Niemann (2-3) takes on Andy Pettitte (2-1). A Rays win here could be the start of something good as they roll into Boston and Baltimore next.

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