A solid team effort gave the Rays a win to start the three-game series in Washington. David Price earned his ninth win of the season, hurling seven strong innings against a talented Nationals lineup.
The Rays jumped out in front in the top of the first inning, as three straight singles (Desmond Jennings, Carlos Pena, and then B.J. Upton) to start the game gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Nats would respond, however, taking advantage of yet another Rays error to tie up the game. With two outs and a runner at second, Pena missed a catch at first for his third error of the season.
Washington took the lead in the bottom of the second via a solo home run off the bat of Ian Desmond.
In the third, the Rays would retake the lead with a two-run homer by Pena, and then add two more with a Elliot Johnson triple off the wall. Down 5-2, the Nats removed former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang in the fourth inning.
Price settled in well, but would find some trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Morse cut the Rays' lead to one with his first longball of the season. Price would recover, however, finishing both the sixth and seventh innings strong.
When set-up man Joel Peralta entered the game in the eighth to try to hold the one-run lead for Fernando Rodney, things got interesting. After a rather long delay, home plate umpire Tim Tschida ejected Peralta for a 'foreign substance' found in his glove (more info on that below). Jake McGee then replaced him, and had a quick 1-2-3 inning inducing three consecutive groundouts to keep the game at 5-4.
Fernando Rodney had a quick inning of his own to close out the game in the ninth, recording his 20th save of the season.
The Rays improve to 38-19 on the season, and gain ground on both the Yankees and Orioles. They're now thee games behind New York and just a half-game behind Baltimore. They remain four games up on Boston, who won their third straight game last night.
Notable Stat Lines:
- D. Jennings: 1-4, 2 R, BB
- C. Pena: 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R, HBP, E3
- B.J. Upton: 2-5, RBI
- J. Lobaton: 2-3, R, BB
- E. Johnson: 1-4, 2 RBI
- Click here for a full boxscore
Rays News and Notes:
- There was some bad news before last night's game. Jeremy Hellickson has been place on the 15-day DL with shoulder fatigue, and prospect Chris Archer was called up and will make his MLB debut tonight. Archer—arguably the Rays' top pitching prospect–has not had a very good start to his season with Triple-A Durham. He is 4-8 with a 4.81 ERA so far this year with the Bulls. Let's hope that Archer can cut down on his walks (5.28 BB/9), which is what has been hurting him more than anything throughout his career.
- Yet another injury, Matt Joyce left last night's game with back tightness. He's not sure exactly what hurt it, but he doesn't expect to sideline him for a significant amount a time. We'll see how he feels today.
- The 'foreign substance' found on Peralta's glove last night was indeed pine tar, and Maddon had this to say about the incident. Peralta also discussed it after the game. Considering the fact that Peralta is an former National, Maddon actually makes some good points in his interview. No word on a suspension or fine yet.
- OF/DH Kyeong Kang, INF Omar Luna, and LHP Frank De Los Santos will all represent the Rays in the 2012 Double-A Southern League All-Star Game.
- Evan Longoria said yesterday that he felt 'pretty sore' a day after experiencing discomfort in his injured hamstring. He doesn't see it as a big setback, though.
- The Rays and Chris Archer will face phenom Stephen Strasburg (8-1, 2.45 ERA) for the first time ever tonight; 7:05 ET first pitch.