David Price continues his Cy Young-like season by downing the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night allowing 8 hits, 2 earned runs, and striking out 10 in 7.2 innings pitched as the Rays completed the 3-game sweep 6-4. Price earned his 12th win of the season and is currently the front-runner to start for the A.L. in this Tuesday’s (7/13) All-Star game in Anaheim. This is such an unbelievable feat for a Rays pitcher and further gives the team and organization much deserved notoriety.
Hopefully Longo’s bomb in the 4th inning on the 1st pitch he saw from Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield helps snap him out of this mini slump that he’s currently fighting off. The team went 3 for 12 with men in scoring position, which isn’t great, but it got the job done. Leaving Sean Rodriquez stranded on 3rd base with no one out during the bottom of the 2nd inning could have been a major blow, but with Price in the zone the Sox didn’t sniff a run until the 6th inning and Tampa had a solid lead by then.
Things did get hairy during the top of the 9th when Boston put up two more runs making it 6-4. Randy Choate gave up a single to J.D. Drew and Matt Garza came in to try and close the game out. Drew stole 2nd on indifference and Garza gave up a huge double to Darnell McDonald scoring Drew. Garza then walked Big Papi. With men on 1st and 2nd, 2 outs, and Garza clearly struggling, Kevin Youkilis had a chance to be a hero, but popped out to B.J. Upton to end the game. The Trop was truly electric and it felt good to see Sox fans leave with their heads down and mouths shut. If I had to hear, “Let’s go, Red Sox!” one more time, my head was going to explode.
The controversy of the night came in the top of the 9th when Rays skipper Joe Maddon decided to go with Matt Garza as his closer. I had no problem with this. Garza struggled during Monday night’s game and was benched early. He was probably the freshest pitcher in the bullpen and the pen, especially closer Rafael Soriano, had been overworked since the Minnesota series during the holiday weekend. The knock on Garza is he’s a slow starter and it was too important of a situation to gamble on the hard-throwing righty, but he got the job done and that’s all that matters. No point second-guessing something that worked. Matt should be good to go for his slated start Saturday night.
Tampa Bay goes up against Cleveland in a 4-game set. Taking 3 of 4 against the Indians would carry huge momentum over through the All-Star break and it’s not something that’s out of the question. Hopefully the true Rays fans that showed up throughout the Red Sox series continue to show their support over the next few days.