James Loney Comes Through As Tampa Bay Rays Take Over First Place In AL East

By Lauren Burg
James Loney Gets Congratulations For 3-Run Homer
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Thank god for James Loney. His late RBI single and three-run homer ended up being key as the Tampa Bay Rays held on to defeat the New York Yankees 10-6 Friday night.

Coupled with the Boston Red Sox‘ 6-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays now sit atop baseball’s toughest division, the AL East. All this just one month after finding themselves in last place.

How did they climb so far in just a matter of weeks?

It all begins with pitching, and though Jeremy Hellickson wasn’t dominant, he still gave the Rays six solid innings of one-run baseball — pretty darn good when you realize he got out of two different jams in the third. His instincts were thankfully sharp as well, evidenced by the fact he got a glove up in time to snare a first-inning line drive off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki that appeared headed for his head.

Defense also did their job, though there were a couple of routine plays that just didn’t happen as the game wore on. Maybe the guys were looking ahead to a very exciting post-game celebration, or just plain tired? Whatever happened, it wasn’t normal and cannot become habit.

And offensively, the Rays are doing just enough to win. Rookie sensation Wil Myers leads the way, collecting yet another multi-hit game (his ninth in the past 10 games) on Friday night. That raised his average to an unthinkable .325, comparable only to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Yasiel Puig.

But he’s not doing it alone. Loney, Ben ZobristLuke Scott and Desmond Jennings have all made improvements or gotten hot this month — great to see considering Evan Longoria‘s ongoing struggles at the plate.

No matter what happens these final couple months, one thing’s for sure: The Rays have the talent to be a legitimate World Series contender. Just ask anyone.


Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL and MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and join her Google network.



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