The Rays and Orioles picked up their seesaw battle on Sunday after a back and forth extra-inning affair on Saturday. The Rays held leads of 3-0, 5-2, and 7-3 before finally winning 9-6 – claiming the series victory in Baltimore. In doing so, they also clinch a winning road trip.
Tampa Bay scored three first-inning runs starting with a leadoff home run by Johnny Damon. Should Damon reach base in his next game, he will own the team record for most consecutive games on base. In total, Damon reached base three today from the top of the lineup.
Once again, it was the top of that lineup that got things going for the Rays. The top four hitters combined for eight of the team’s 14 hits and three of the six walks. Ben Zobrist had two more hits and scored three runs which gives him seven runs scored over the past two days. Joining Damon and Zobrist, Justin Ruggiano hit third with lefty Brian Matusz starting. The outfielder responded by going 3-5. Cleaning up behind them, Evan Longoria had three RBI including a two-run inside-the-park to center field on a ball that cut away from a sliding Adam Jones.
Unlike last night, Tampa Bay did get some production from the bottom of the order. After popping up with the bases loaded in the first inning, Kelly Shoppach came through with a two-run, two-out single in the seventh inning. He also cut down a running Felix Pie in the eighth. Shoppach’s good games have been few and far between, so appreciate it when they come.
On the mound, the Rays got another so-so effort from Wade Davis. The right-hander left after six plus innings having allowed three runs on eight hits including back-to-back home runs by Adam Jones and Vladimir Guerrero in the second inning. In relief, Adam Russell allowed two more runs charged to Davis although both runs came on groundball outs. The pitch f/x totals for Davis are incomplete; however, it was much of the same story. Davis is still lacking a put away pitch although he seemed to go to his breaking ball a bit more. He left several fat pitches in the middle of the zone and allowed a lot of solid contact. The issues appear to be correctable, but working through problems at the major league level is not a great process.
After Russell, Cesar Ramos allowed a solo home run to Luke Scott in the eighth inning. Ramos had not allowed an extra-base hit to a left-handed batter in his career until May 24th of this season (68 plate appearances). Since then, he has allowed three – including two home runs. All three hits have come on elevated fastballs including Scott’s blast today. Not to make an excuse for Ramos, but location issues are correctable, so no reason to sound the alarm yet.
With Kyle Farnsworth battling the flu bug, Joe Maddon turned to a familar face for the final three outs. For the first time since 9/20/2009, J.P. Howell registered a major league save. Howell got some help from shortstop Reid Brignac who took a deflected ball up the middle to begin the game-ending 6-3 double play. Unlike the other players who battled the illness in the Rays’ clubhouse, Maddon did not disclose Farnsworth’s condition until after the game – using a strategy employed by Lightning coach Guy Boucher who routinely gives vague information regarding injuries.