The Tampa Bay Rays turned the calendar back a few months last night. Tampa found themselves down 2-0 early on and you could almost get the sense that this one was slipping away. Then, after the Tampa lineup had all seen Twins pitcher once, the second time around they started hitting Pavano. Perhaps the Rays were mesmorized the first time around by Pavano’s 1970’s style porn ‘stache. What’s up with that? Tampa batters were even able to draw a couple of walks off Pavano, not an easy feat since he’s only issued 17 passes in 111 innings.
For the third straight game, Ben Zobrist started in center field and batted in the leadoff spot. Zobrist was 2-4 and drew two walks. Yesterday was the last day of voting for the All-Star game and with LF Carl Crawford hanging on to the number three spot in the outfield voting, Crawford showed people just why he should be a starter in the mid summer Classic. Crawford had a great night, 4-6, 2 runs scored, 1 RBI and a stolen base.
Heading into the 9th, Tampa found themselves down by 1 run and managed to tie the game on an Evan Longoria double which scored Crawford. Then the Rays put together a rally at the top of the 10th when Reid Brignac scored. Rafael Soriano came on in the bottom of the 10th and collected his 19th save of the year.
While I’ll take any win the Rays can record, especially lately, and Tampa did record 12 hits, the Rays left 12 men on base once again. That stat is going to have to improve going forward.
This was Tampa’s first visit to the Twins new park, Target Field. It’s a beautiful facility and according to another Rays blogger I follow who was there, the food court is incredible. It is most definitely a pitchers park. That was illustrated early in the game when Twins 1B Justin Morneau smashed a ball that would have been out at the Trop, but it short hopped against the left centerfield wall and Morneau was limited to a double. Morneau later scored.
Tonight’s game features Tampa’s emerging ace, David Price facing off against Scott Baker. Price (11-3 2.44) is the AL leader in wins and looks to add to his win total. One weakness for Price has been team batting against him on the road. Batters only manage a .190 BA when Price is at the Trop but that number jumps to .258 on the road. Baker (6-7 4.97) has had a few rough outings lately. Baker has given up the long ball lately, 8 in his last 5 starts, for an ERA over 6 in those starts. Bakers last start was limited to 4.1 IP with 6 earned runs and a loss against the Mets.