The Rays came into July looking to put June behind them, and they have done that in full force. With this sweep of the Red Sox, the Rays are now 6-1 in the month of July and have now won five straight contests for the first time since the Rays beat the Yankees in New York on May 19th. Additionally, this was the second time the Rays have swept the Red Sox and have done it once on the road and now at home. This also gives the Rays an 8-4 (thanks Gareth) record against the Red Sox this season and a division-best 22-10 record against AL East opponents. This sweep was extra special because it vaulted the Rays back into the lead for the wildcard put the Red Sox 2.5 games in the rear view mirror and the Rays just 1.5 games behind the Yankees as the Yankees take on the Athletics out west tonight.
David Price was dominating tonight on his way to his 12th win of the season striking out ten while walking just one in 7.1 innings. He did it with a very heavy dose of fastballs which is usually not a good thing but Price’s fastball has been very overpowering of late and he has been attacking batters all over the zone with it and hitting the spots Shoppach was calling for him to hit. That is why David Price can get away with an overdose of fastballs and Wade Davis cannot. After this outing, there should be no doubt who gets the ball to start the all-star game on Tuesday as Price has been amazing in the first half. The Rays’ offense did its job in producing runs despite the fact the club had more walks than it did hits. Wakefield was sharp early but started to show signs of trouble in the fourth and the Rays made him pay by plating five runs over Wakefield’s final two innings which included a homerun by Longoria that bounced off the D-ring in leftcenter. The club also put the pressure on Wakefield and Kevin Cash by stealing three bases tonight to continue to put runners in scoring position. On a positive note, BJ Upton dove for a ball he had a next to zero percent chance of reaching with a four run lead in the 9th inning showing he has quickly learned from his mistake last week but I am going to bet you won’t see many mainstream mentions of that action.
The club welcomes in the Indians for four more home games to close out the first half of the schedule. The Indians have dropped four of their last six and are one of the worst statistical teams in baseball in most offensive and pitching categories. Like Boston, Cleveland is nowhere close to full strength as they are without Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubal Cabrera and have traded Russell Branyan since the last time they came to Tropicana Field. The Rays will not get to face former prospect Mitch Talbot in this series but will get Fausto Carmona who gave them some fits the last time he was here and the rather enigmatic Justin Masterson who can either be extremely tough to hit or a second round of batting practice of late. The good news is the Rays need just one win in the series to clinch their first winning home series in a very long time but anything less than three of four against a clearly inferior Indians team would be a disappointment coming off this terrific Red Sox series.