Pitching, Pitching, Pitching…It is amazing how good pitching can make a team look good. Yes, the Yankees had already clinched the division and yes they did not play their ‘A’ lineup each day, but it is still the Yankees. The Rays threw three rookies at the Evil Empire this weekend and all three held their own, continuing to look like a different team at home than on the road. Friday night it looked like business as usual for the worst team in baseball as the Rays fell to the Bronx Bombers 4-1. Still James Shields looked solid as he worked 7 innings. It would be Shields last appearance of the season as Joe Maddon has decided that Shields has pitched enough innings this season. The team’s only offense was a leadoff home run by Rocco Baldelli. On Saturday, J. P. Howell went head-to-head with Randy Johnson and pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks in the Rays 8-0 shutout of the Yankees. Yesterday, Brian Stokes was knocked out in the sixth but pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in check and the offense did the rest in the 11-4 victory, as Stokes picked up his first major league victory. Ty Wiggnington hit his third home run in the past four games and now has 23 on the season. The Rays scored had two innings in which they scored at least five runs. Those were only the seventh and eighth times this season in which they have scored at least five in one inning. Interestingly, it was the second time this season that the Rays had two such innings in one game (v. Baltimore July 21).
- B. J. Upton hit his first home run since 2004 and will have preventative surgery on his shoulder this off-season.
- Carl Crawford had a two-run triple yesterday, his 15th of the season. It is the first time since 1930 that a player has at least 15 in three straight seasons. Not bad for a guy that has played the entire season with an injured wrist.
- Rocco Baldeli continues to swing a hot back show signs of the great player we knew before all his injuries. Rocco has 14 multi-hit games in his last 26 contests and is hitting .356 (42-for-118) over that span.
- As if we needed more evidence that the Rays bullpen is killing the team…The Rays are 4-16 in their last 20 games decided by three or fewer runs. Of course it would help if the starting pitchers could work deeper into the game. Before this weekend, starters had worked into the sixth inning only six times in their previous 17 games.
- As the Rays march towards 100 losses, for only the third time in franchise history, Friday’s loss marked the 100th loss in franchise history, against the Yankees.
- Chad Orvella and Travis Harper have been shut down for the season with minor arm injuries.
- Reid Brignac was named the Rays minor league player of the year and Andy Sonnanstine was named the Rays minor league pitcher of the year.