It would appear to anyone that the Rays are still livid about letting yet another perfect game being thrown against them, and the Angels are finding that out the hard way. The Rays have allowed a historic 4 no-hitters (three of them perfect games) in the past five seasons, and are the first team to have more than one perfect game thrown against them. Obviously, this is a milestone that the Rays are not proud of, which is why they're finding a different way to deal with their frustration: beating the Angels, and doing so without mercy.
After last night's Rays victory, which ended up being a 7-0 shutout of the Angels on their home field, the Rays were not yet finished putting the hurt on the Halos, with the memory of Felix Hernandez's perfect game still fresh in their heads.
Jered Weaver took the mound with a 15-2 record (tied for second in the majors) and an ERA which was in the top 3 in the AL, meaning the Rays would theoretically have a tough task ahead of them. After the first two innings, though, it looked as if his record and ERA were attained through sheer luck.
Weaver was roughed up from the get-go, with BJ Upton hitting a solo shot to left in the first inning to make it 1-0. The very next inning, it was Ben Zobrist's turn to take Weaver yard, this time hitting it to right center near the Manta Ray tank, extending the league 2-0. After Erick Aybar hit a solo shot off of James Shields, the lead was 2-1, but it wouldn't stay that way for much longer.
In the fourth, everything went wrong for Weaver, with the Rays capitalizing on what was a very sloppy pitching performance by the typically composed veteran. Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Roberts both singled home a run, while Jose Molina singled home two runs to make it 6-1, but the bleeding wasn't about to stop. Desmond Jennings singled home a run, followed soon after by BJ upton singling home two more runs.
That would be the last inning Jered Weaver threw, with his stats for the night looking like this: 3 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, and 2 Home Runs Allowed. The trick with Jered Weaver is you have to get to him early: unlike Justin Verlander (who can give up 3-4 runs and still have the composure to pitch a the rest of the game without giving up another run), Weaver only starts dominating once he feels comfortable; if you tag him for a few runs in the first 2-3 innings, he becomes a "pretty good" pitcher rather than the ace that he's become over the past 5-6 seasons.
The Rays did just that, and Weaver ended up taking the loss due to the fact that he made the runs deficit too large for the struggling Halos offense to overcome.
For the Rays, though, it was a night that could've been as easy as batting practice; Weaver was having horrible control problems (meatball central), leaving pitches in the zone, and allowing the Rays to hit for contact and power. The Rays are still ranked in the bottom five for batting average and slugging percentage, but that's the beauty of baseball; statistics don't dictate how each game will turn out.
After tonight's game, the Rays are gaining momentum in the AL East, while the Angels are losing ground in the AL West very rapidly. The Rays are 6 games behind the Yankees, while being only 1 game ahead of the Orioles for the first of the two Wild Card spots.
Notable stats from tonight's game:
J. Shields: (W,11-7) 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 8 SO
BJ Upton: 4-5, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
J. Molina: 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
B. Zobrist: 2-3, 3 R, HR, RBI
S. Rodriguez: 3-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI