Game 98: Tampa Bay Rays Open Second Half With Victory
The Tampa Bay Rays had the luxury of staying in the All-Star city to open the second half, and the lack of travel proved to do well for the squad as the offense picked right back up where they ended the first half. The Rays won their first game of their weekend series against the Minnesota Twins, by a 6-2 final, getting the second half off to a great start.
Getting the start tonight for Tampa was Alex Cobb, who threw 5.2 innings of five hit, two run ball, while also walking and striking out a pair each. Aside from allowing a two-run home run in the third inning, Cobb didn’t find himself in too much trouble until the sixth inning, the same frame which would see Cobb’s night come to an end as the Twins load the bases. Luckily, Cobb’s replacement, Brad Boxberger, would hold them there on his way to 1.1 hitless innings with three strikeouts against only a walk.
Offensively, James Loney and Kevin Kiermaier lead the charge. Loney had a better night from the plate, going 3-for-4, but was unable to drive anyone in or come across himself. However, even though it was just a 2-for-4 night for him, Kiermaier did cross the plate twice himself. Evan Longoria finished the night with three RBI, and Ben Zobrist drilled a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Longoria has to be the player the Rays are expecting the most from in the second half as he took just a .386 slugging percentage to the All-Star Game. If the Rays are going to make a run in the AL East, it is hard to imagine them doing so without their star third baseman leading the way.
Taking the loss for Minnesota was Kyle Gibson, who moved to 8-8 on the year and again struggled to find consistency after a previous successful outing. Gibson actually went further in the game than Cobb, going 6.1 innings, but allowed nine hits and all six of the Rays’ runs. The Rays hit Gibson around for 7 runs on 10 hits in just 3 innings of work back on April 22nd, and while Gibson did throw more than double the amount of innings, the Tampa Bay Rays made him leave his starting disappointed once again.
Closing things out was Jake McGee, who allowed a single to lead off the Twins’ ninth, but threw absolute gas to the next three batters, living around 97, and striking out the side to secure the victory. It’ll be a rare Saturday night game tomorrow for game two, as David Price (he’s still a Ray!) will look to clinch the series against the Twins’ surprise ace, righty Phil Hughes. First pitch is set for 7:10 in the east.