It was not a Tampa Bay Rays player that was the story of Saturday night’s Rays-Yankees game. Instead, it was CC Sabathia as he finally looked like himself, going 6.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. Sabathia’s strong start has to be a reason for optimism on a Yankees team hoping to battle their way back into the playoff picture in the American League. David Price, meanwhile, failed to get past 6 innings for the second straight start aftering completing at least 7 in his first 8 starts off the DL. But Price’s effective 6 innings coupled with 2 RBIs each from Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist was enough for the Rays to do the only thing important at the end of the day: win.
The game was scoreless through 4 innings as Price and Sabathia both began the contest in vintage form. Price allowed just 2 hits while Sabathia gave up just a hit and a walk. In the 5th, however, the Yankees got to Price. Singles by Alex Rodriguez, Vernon Wells, and Mark Reynolds gave the Yankees the bases loaded with 1 out, and Austin Romine fought Price for a 9-pitch at-bat before drawing a walk to force in a run. Then Ichiro Suzuki hit a soft groundball that scored a second run and moved the runners to second and third. Price stopped the damage there, but the Rays were going to have to find a rally of their own against Sabathia. Luckily they did just that in the 6th. Sam Fuld singled and Desmond Jennings walked to begin the inning before Ben Zobrist scored both of them with a game-tying 2-run double and Evan Longoria brought Zobrist home with an RBI single. One ace wilted and then the other, but that extra punctuation mark off the bat from Longoria made the difference. Longoria later gave the Rays their 4th run on a solo homer off of Preston Claibourne in the 8th inning.
Price was able to keep it together, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings of work, striking out 5 and allowing that one critical walk. Longoria’s 3 hits and 2 RBI plus Zobrist’s clutch double gave him the run support they needed. Price is starting to come back down to earth, but he has refused to come apart, leading the Rays to victory even as his last two starts have been far from his best. The win for the Rays improves them to 74-53, percentage points ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East, and they will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:40 PM with Alex Cobb oppposing Ivan Nova.