The Tampa Bay Rays finished their first series of the second half by sweeping the Minnesota Twins, taking the final game of the weekend by a 5-3 score. In the process, Mr. Ray himself Evan Longoria had a night to remember. As part of a 2 for 5 performance, Longoria broke Carl Crawford‘s franchise record of doubles (216) and tied his RBI mark (592), both of which occurred on the same swing in the 6th inning.
Before that, however, the Rays looked to be in good shape, as they got on the scoreboard quickly thanks to runs in each of the first three innings (two in the first, and one each in the second and third). Aside from a couple of mistakes in the bottom of the second, Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer was dealing until around the sixth, where he gave up two to make it a two run 5-3 game. He was effective, nonetheless, throwing 6.1 innings of six hit, three run ball and striking out four.
The Rays bullpen made it unnecessarily exciting in the ninth inning, as Joe Maddon decided to give Grant Balfour another chance to close out the two-run game. But, he would put the first, and only two, runners he faced on base (the latter, former Ray Sam Fuld, represented the tying run) and the Rays brought on Kirby Yates for his 13th appearance of the season. Yates lived up to the challenge to record his first career MLB save.
The Rays offense hit Kevin Correia early, often and hard, as the struggling starter fell to 5-11 on the year. He would only go four innings, giving up seven hits and walking three (as well as allowing all but one of Tampa’s runs), as well as striking out four. The Twins bullpen did a great job of keeping the Rays’ offense at bay (no pun intended) and gave their offense every opportunity to stay within striking distance. Samuel Deduno, Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins combined to pitch the final five innings and only allowed four hits while striking out nine.
Offensively for the Rays, four players recorded multi-hit games, and after an 0’fer night last night, Desmond Jennings got back on the horse and was one of those four players.
So, how much can we gauge how the rest of the second half will play out based on this series against the Twins? Unfortunately, not much. The Twins are dead last in their division, and after this sweep sit 10.5 games out. However, the three game sweep extends the Rays win streak to five games in a row, and they’ll truly be put to the test in their next series against one of the top dogs in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals. Hopefully, after that, we will have a much better feel for the rest of the season.
Speaking of that series against the defending N.L. pennant holders, it’ll get underway Tuesday, as the squad will have a much deserved off day. First pitch is set to fly at 8:10 on Tuesday, and will feature Jake Odorizzi matching up against the 12-4 Adam Wainwright. And, again, congratulations to Evan Longoria for etching his name atop a couple of Tampa Bay Rays records.