Game 118: Offense Comes Alive as Rays Roll in Opener vs. Angels

By Robbie Knopf

Dan Haren was perfect in the first inning on Thursday night’s game versus the Rays, and it had to in the back of your head- were the Rays so pathetic offensively that they were going to get no-hit again? But that quickly started to change. A Ben Zobrist solo shot with 1 out in the second inning broke the perfect streak- 34 consecutive Rays batters had been retired. And once it was broken, it began to shatter.

In the 4th inning against Haren, everything came together for the Rays’ lineup. B.J. Upton led off the inning with a solo home run to make it a 2-0 game. Two batters later, Evan Longoria singled to right-center, and then Ben Zobrist lined a double towards the right field corner to to give the Rays 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. With the infield in, Jeff Keppinger grounded a single just past the diving try of Alberto Callaspo for a 2-run single and the Rays still weren’t done. Keppinger went 1st to 3rd on Carlos Pena‘s single before scoring on Ryan Roberts‘ sac fly to make it a 5-0 game. After Jose Molina singled, Haren was taken out of the game after just 3.2 innings before Jerome Williams escaped further damage. Haren allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. His struggles in 2012 continued, and the Rays teed off.

Evan Longoria added an exclamation point to the game in the 5th inning against Williams. After Matthew Joyce walked in 1 out, the first Rays walk in 18.2 innings, a length of more than two games, Longoria made Williams pay with a 2-run home run, his first since coming off the DL, to give the Rays a commanding 7-0 lead.

Every Rays fan had to hoping that David Price was going to twirl a perfecto of his own in the wake of Felix Hernandez‘s perfect game. He did retire the first five batters he faced before Alberto Callaspo doubled with 2 outs in the second inning. He wasn’t perfect, but he was plenty sharp. Prince went 7 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. 67 of his 103 pitches were strikes and his groundout to flyout ratio was 7-3 as he kept the Angels feeling down. Burke Badenhop and Wade Davis tossed a scoreless inning each to close out the shutout as the Rays won 7-0. Price earned the win, improving to an incredible 16-4, while Haren (8-10) took the loss. It was a smooth and much-needed win as the Rays shut out the Angels for the third consecutive time that they have played them. The Rays hope for more of the same on Friday night at 10:05 PM EST as James Shields matches up against Jered Weaver.