Game 72: Rays Slam Lee, Phillies, Clinch Doubleheader Sweep

By Robbie Knopf

Thus far in 2012, Cliff Lee is 0-4. Unbelievable. He really hasn’t pitched that bad all season, posting a 3.48 REA and 3.13 FIP entering his start on Sunday night. But in his outing versus the Rays, Lee made some mistakes and the Rays took advantage. They came away with a satisfying win, sweeping the doubleheader and taking their series versus the Phillies.

The Rays looked to be at a disadvantage immediately. Against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, the Rays started lefty Cesar Ramos. One problem: Ramos is a middle reliever. In the absolute best-case scenario, Ramos was going to throw 4 innings. The Rays were going to be very dependent on their bullpen in the game and they needed it to come up big. Luckily, the Rays took some of the pressure off in the second inning. Lee walked Keppinger to begin the inning before Ben Zobrist singled, and then Lee left a fastball right down the middle to Sean Rodriguez and Rodriguez hit a high flyball to deep center that was just over the glove of Shane Victorino for an RBI double. Then Lee left a 3-0 fastball up to Brooks Conrad and Conrad drilled a 2-run double down the left field line to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.

Cesar Ramos went 2.2 hitless innings for the Rays, striking out 2 but walking 3. Wade Davis got the final out of the third inning. Gomes got into immediate trouble in the 4th, allowing a walk, a Placido Polanco RBI double, and a John Mayberry RBI single with still nobody out before escaping the jam. The Rays’ lead was down to 3-2. But the Rays got those 2 runs back against Lee in the 6th, with Conrad drilling another big 2-run double. Davis allowed another Polanco RBI double in the bottom of the inning before he exited the game and Brandon Gomes got the final 2 outs of the inning. Davis did not pitch well, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits in 2.2 innings, striking out 2 while walking 2. But the Rays were able to tag Lee for 5 runs, turning what could have been a back-breaking Davis performance into a side-point.

The Rays put the game away in the 8th, drawing five walks against Phillies relievers B.J. Rosenberg and Jake Diekman, the last to the pitcher Gomes, to plate 2 runs to give the Rays a 7-3 lead. Other than the walk and the RBI, Gomes tossed 2.2 innings allowing no runs on 1 hit, striking out 1 and walking 1. J.P. Howell tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th to finish this one off as the Rays won 7-3.

Gomes (2-2) earned the win, while Lee (0-4) took the loss. The Rays came away with 7 runs on 6 hits, but also 8 walks, and went a solid 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position compared to the Phillies’ 1 for 8. Brooks Conrad came up huge again, following up a game-tying RBI single on Saturday with two 2-run doubles. The Rays’ pitchers were not dominant at all in this game, posting a 6-6 strikeout to walk ratio, although they did allow just 4 hits, but they were able to escape jams and unlike other games we’ve seen the Rays play, they refused to let a golden opportunity against Cliff Lee and the Phillies slip away. It was a big win for the Rays as they clinched a doubleheader sweep and a series win in Philadelphia, and they’ll look to build on the momentum from this big day moving forward. After a debilitating loss on Saturday in walk-off fashion, the Rays came right back with some of their best baseball of the season. You never know. Maybe today will go down as the turning point of the Rays’ season.