After three innings, the Rays had one hit against Twins’ rookie Kyle Gibson. Then came the fourth. Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott walked to bring up Ben Zobrist, followed by Evan Longoria. When those two failed, it became the responsibility of James Loney to keep the inning going.
And that he did, turning an 0-2 count into a much-needed walk. That set the stage for Matt Joyce, whose base hit drove in the first two runs.
It wasn’t all offensive. The Rays’ entire pitching staff (bullpen and starters combined) continued showing signs of returning to form, allowing just five hits and one run (unearned). Chris Archer set the tone, limiting Minnesota to three hits in six solid innings. He has now lasted more than five innings in four consecutive games.
His 3.59 ERA is also lower than fellow starters David Price and Roberto Hernandez. Not bad for a young guy that doesn’t even have a full season of major league experience.
Put all this together, and you likely know why the Rays currently sit alone in second place in the AL East, less than three games ahead of both the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. They’re just three games behind the first place Boston Red Sox as well. That’s how tight the division is.
Either way, the Rays hope this run continues well past the All-Star break. Because if it does, there’s a real possibility Tampa Bay could find themselves playing meaningful baseball come October.