The Rays have cooled off since their hot two-month start, going an awful 1-6 last week while simultaneously falling in the tight AL East division. Things have been the complete opposite in New York with the Yankees, who went 5-2 last week while gaining ground on everybody in the division.
Tonight, obviously, was not last week, as the slates were wiped clean heading into the matchup of division foes. The Rays came into the game owning a 7-game winning streak at the Trop against the Yanks, and hoped to continue that trend Monday.
Matt Moore pitched seven innings, and didn't exactly have his strongest outing, but still came through with a quality start. Giving up 9 hits and only getting tagged for 3 runs is almost pushing your luck. Regardless, Moore was credited with the win tonight, bringing his record to an even 5-5, while also showing us signs that he is continuing to progress in the right direction.
The Yanks struck first in this ballgame, putting up two runs on the board in the top of the first inning. The first run was scored on a soft pop-up that somehow fell into right field for an RBI double, scoring the runner from first. Hideki Matsui lost sight of the ball and couldn't come up with the catch, resulting in the first run of the game. Matsui's misplay was not ruled an error, and therefore Matt Moore would suffer an earned run that he really did not deserve.
Robinson Cano extended New York's lead to two with an RBI single later in the inning.
The Rays' bats got to work against Yankees starter Freddy Garcia the fourth, when B.J. Upton cut the lead in half with a solo home run.
In the bottom of the sixth, a Carlos Pena long ball would tie it up at two apiece.
Moore was unable to keep the game tied in the seventh, however, as another leadoff walk to a weak hitter killed a Rays starter pitcher for the umpteenth time this season. Chris Stewart was the recipient of the free pass this time, and eventually scored on a Curtis Granderson sac fly to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Coming to bat in the bottom of the seventh, the Rays once again found themselves in need of some late-inning heroics. This time they actually got it, as Brooks Conrad & Co. delivered.
Conrad doubled home Sean Rodriguez to tie the game again at 3-3. Then a very rare error by Gold Glover Mark Teixeira on an Elliot Johnson groundball gave the Rays their fourth and game-deciding run.
As has been the case the past month-and-a-half, the bullpen held down the fort, and didn't surrender a run to the daunted Yankees offense. Joel Peralta came in and pitched a scoreless/hitless 8th, while the cheapest-most-effective-offseason-acquisition-in-all-of-baseball (a.k.a. Fernando Rodney)—who was just selected to his first All-Star Game the day before—pitched a flawless 9th for his 23rd save on the season.
The Rays improve to 42-38 on the season, and gain ground as everybody else in the division lost last night. Tampa is now 6.5 games behind the Yankees and just a half-game behind Baltimore. They also move back into a tie with Boston.
Notable Stat Lines:
M. Moore(TAM): (W, 5-5) 7 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
BJ Upton(TAM): 2-4, R, RBI, HR
C. Pena(TAM): 1-4, R, RBI, HR
B. Conrad(TAM): 1-1, R, 2B, RBI
Rays News and Notes:
- James Shields (7-5, 4.05 ERA) will look to secure the series win tonight, but he'll have to contain a surging Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.03 ERA). First pitch is at 7:10 PM.
- Hideki Matsui left last night's game in the second inning due to tightness in his hamstring. It looks like he'll be out for a few days, but he seems confident he won't land on the DL.
- Jeremy Hellickson (shin) felt good in his regular mid-start bullpen session yesterday, and said he expects to be ready for his scheduled start Thursday.
- The Rays were busy on international signing day yesterday. They signed two top international prospects out of Venezuela: RHP Jose Mujica (ranked No. 3) and catcher David Rodriguez.
- Matt Joyce (oblique) is targeting a start to his brief minor league rehab stint this Wednesday, and hopes to rejoin the Rays for the Cleveland series this weekend.
- Sam Fuld (wrist) will begin his lengthy minor league rehab assignment this Saturday with Class A+ Charlotte. The stint will be a maximum of 20 games.
- The Rays have released Durham RHP Johnny Nunez.
- Jose Lobaton got married at the Trop before yesterday's game.