Today's double-header against the Phillies was the first real test of endurance and stamina the Rays have had thus far this season: They passed with flying colors. Both games were won by good pitching and timely hitting, giving the Rays two much-needed victories after dropping three straight before.
Game 1 Recap
It was a tale of two games today: the first game was everything it was hyped up to be; a pitcher's duel. Two of the premier left handers in the game were on the mound, David Price and Cole Hamels, both having monster seasons in their own rights. Cole Hamels has been pitching like a man possessed this season, more than likely because it's a contract year for him, so doing anything/everything in his power to raise his stock is probably one fo the few things on his mind. Price, on the other hand, doesn't have last year's strikeout numbers, but with a 10-4 (after today's win) record and 2.95, who honestly cares about strikeouts?
Hamels and Price battled deep into the game, both striking out at least seven batters while pitching seven solid innings, although Price gave up one run while Hamels left without giving up a run.
The only run allowed by started pitching in the game came in the bottom of the sixth, when Jimmy Rollins hit a solo home run.
Then the bullpens for both teams came in, and the dynamics of the game changed completely.
Antonio Bastardo, a pitcher who has always suffered from command issues, entered the game to try to keep the Rays scoreless. After allowing two men to reach base, he threw a high-inside fastball to Carlos Pena, who blasted the ball over the right field fence for a three-run homer.
This should be somewhat of a confidence booster for Pena who, after coming back to the town and team whom adored him, has been struggling to put up the power numbers he was used to experiencing while at The Trop. His average has never been anything to drool over, but Pena can always be relied on to give you at least 25 homers and at least 90 RBIs.
The Phillies made it a real nail-biter in the bottom half of the inning. Burke Badenhop—who has been very effective as of late—struggled. After letting up an RBI single to Ty Wiggington, a combined effort by Badenhop and Jake McGee stopped the bleeding and kept the game at 3-2.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, Fernando Rodney came in to close it out. He picked up his 21st save of the season, and gave the Rays their 39th win of the year.
Was it a flashy game this afternoon? No, not at all. But it was another game in which the Rays gutted, grinded, and played as hard as they could to scrape out a victory. In the end, the "W" column is all that matters.
Notables from this afternoon's game:
D. Price(TAM): (W,10-4) 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 8 K
C. Pena(TAM): 1-4, HR, 3 RBI
Game 2 Recap
While the first game of the double-header epitomized what "a gritty game" means, the second game was anything but "fun to watch" if you were a Phillies fan. Cliff Lee was supposed to square off against James Shields Friday night, but due to rain, that pitching matchup never happened.
Instead, the Rays opted to use Shields in Saturday's game, leaving Joe Maddon no choice but to use a middle relievers to start tonight's game, while Cliff Lee started for the Phillies.
Cesar Ramos, pitched only 2.2 innings, but they were solid and he managed to not give up a hit during his brief outing. Wade Davis was next in line, but his outing was far worse than Ramos': 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 BB.
Cliff Lee, still searching for his first win of the season, was roughed up badly by the Rays' hitters tonight, specifically by Brooks Conrad. Conrad is, for lack of a better word, a journeyman; never really settling in with any of the previous teams he has been on. That didn't matter to Rays fans tonight though, as Conrad knocked in four runs on two doubles, both off of Cliff Lee, which was really all the Rays needed.
Once Lee was taken out, the Phillies bullpen fell apart yet again. B.J. Rosenberg, a recent minor-league callup for the Phillies, walked four batters in 0.2 innings, walking in a run with the bases loaded twice, and giving the Rays some more insurance runs (Sean Rodriguez, Jose Lobaton, and Brandon Gomes provided the additional three insurance runs).
Game 2 showed that the Rays are capable of playing both the "power" game, as well as small ball, as the second game in the double-header had didn't have a single home run in it, on either side for that matter. A multi-faceted team is always the hardest one to prepare for, so hopefully the Rays keep this ace up their sleeve as long as they can.
Notables from tonight's game:
B. Gomes(TAM): (2-2,W) 2.2 IP, H, BB, K
B. Conrad(TAM): 2-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI
B. Zobrist(TAM): 2-3, BB, 3 R
S. Rodriguez(TAM): 1-3, 2 R, RBI, BB
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