Big performances from David Price and Desmond Jennings—and probably some good luck from the Zim Bear—helped snap the Rays' four-game losing streak last night.
Price came into Friday's contest with his hands full, facing reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander. The two aces exchanged text messages before the game, and ended up with this brief conversation:
"You pitching Friday?"
"Yeah. I can't talk to you anymore."
The Rays started the scoring in the first, via an RBI groundout by Luke Scott. Prince Fielder snagged the hot shot down the first-base line, possibly saving a run on the slick play.
The Rays responded with some great defense of their own in the third, when Jennings made an outstanding running catch in foul territory, nearly flipping him over the short wall [near the 162 Landing area].
That ended the inning for Detroit, and Jennings was due up at the plate first in the bottom half of the inning. He blasted a solo homer into the left field seats, extending the Rays' lead to 2-0.
Another solo home run—this time off the bat of Ben Zobrist—gave the Rays a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
In the fifth, ex-Ray and current Ray-killer Delmon Young put the Tigers on the scoreboard, belting a solo shot of his own to cut the Rays' lead back to two.
The Rays got that run right back, as Jennings went yard for the second time of the game.
Detroit cut into the lead again in the seventh, when Fielder made it a 4-2 game with an RBI groundout.
And that's when the Rays were hit with a huge scare. Price, who had thrown just 78 pitches through his seven strong innings of work, was removed from the game two to tightness in his back. More on that in the Rays News and Notes...
The Rays' bullpen would hold the lead, however, as Jake McGee did the set-up work while Fernando Rodney notched his 22nd save of the season.
The Rays improved to 41-36 on the season, and only gain on the Yankees (now 5.5 behind) as everyone else in the division won their ballgames.
Notable Stat Lines:
- D. Price (W, 11-4): 5 H, 2 ER, 7 K, BB through 7.0 IP
- D. Jennings: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
- B. Zobrist: 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB
Rays News and Notes:
- Price seems to be confident his back tightness won't make him miss a start, saying "I'll be pitching in five days," after the game.
- Three Rays pitchers returning today: Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder fatigue), Kyle Farnsworth (elbow), and Joel Peralta (suspension) will be reinstated for tonight's game. Brandon Gomes and Cesar Ramos were sent down to make room in the 'pen.
- The Tampa Bay Times has an update on Evan Longoria (hamstring) and a video of him discussing his status.
- Sam Fuld (wrist) took batting practice yesterday and could begin his minor league rehab assignment before the All-Star break.
- According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Rays and Yanks are not interested in Jim Thome.
- The Rays could sign Dominican shortstop Wendell Rijo, according to to ESPN's Enrique Rojas.
- Hellickson (4-3, 3.45) takes on Rick Porcello (5-5, 4.71) tonight on the FOX national spotlight; first pitch 7:15 ET.