Rays rally past A’s 5-4

Oakland got aboard in the bottom of the first, as mentioned, after Cocoa Crispy singled and Daric Barton reached on an infield base hit; they executed a double steal to put two men in scoring position with no outs. Rays: take note; this is what you do with RISP. Kurt Suzuki was ruled hit-by-pitch (he wasn’t) on a wild pitch that would have seen the Crispy One score. Seems umpire Hirschbeck sucks as bad at home plate (read: strike zone) as he did at first base the previous evening. Kevin Kouzmanoff’s sac fly scored crisp and Mark Ellis singles to score Barton.

Evan Longoria led off the second inning with a home run, followed by three strikeouts with men stranded in scoring position in between. Oakland starter Brett Anderson got Carlos Pena looking and Ben Zobrist swinging before consecutive base hits by Willy Aybar and Sean Rodriguez, who struck out. Kelly Shoppach went down swinging to leave two men on.

All was quiet – unless you count my yelling from the couch about Rays batters striking out – until the sixth inning. The Rays tied it up momentarily in the top of the inning. Carl Crawford led off with a base hit followed by a Longoria strikeout. Pena doubled to move CC to third. Crawford scored on a Zobrist sac fly to center. The A-holes put up two more up in the bottom half of the frame; Price paid for the lead-off walk to Barton when Ellis cracked a two-out double for an RBI. Rajai Davis singled to score Ellis and put Oakland up 4-2.

However, identity crisis dealt with, the Ray put up a three-spot in the top of the eighth inning to secure the comeback win, although it didn’t look so hot at first. Longoria struck out to lead off, followed by a walk from Pena. Zobrist flied to right for the second out but Aybar doubled to score Pena and bring the rays to within a run. Sean Rodriguez launched a two-out homer on a 1-1 fastball to put the winning run on the board, giving the Rays the opportunity to split the four-game set Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m.

[image-1]Chad Qualls made his return after dealing with personal matters and rocked it in the bottom of the eighth. Qualls threw a flawless inning and struck out two batters. Rafael “MFIKY” Soriano – Google it – pitched a flawless ninth to grab his 36th save of the year.

I always prefer to take things one game at a time but had the Rays lost this one, there would have been cause for concern. Although Oakland has some fiery young starting pitchers, they were under .500 before Tampa Bay handed them the first two games of this series, hardly a team you expect to be battling for a split when you’re in a dog-fight for first place in the best division in baseball.

This W was made even more important by the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees both won earlier in the evening. If keeping pace in the Al East is all I can celebrate instead of advancing, I guess I'll take it.

Saturday night the Tampa Bay Rays finally remembered that they're the best come-from-behind team in Major League Baseball, not the Oakland A’s. After trailing for most of the game, they pulled ahead 5-4 with 3 runs in the top of the eighth inning for the win; you can thank Willy Aybar for his two-out RBI-double and Sean Rodriguez for his two-run home run to the second level.

When the first out you record in a game is an RBI-sacrifice fly, you know there are going to be problems. Rays starting pitcher David Price was… ok I’ll say it, he was horrible in the first inning, allowing two runs and throwing more than 40 pitches to get the first three outs. And then he settled down, pitching three-up three-down through the fifth inning and allowing four runs on six hits, striking out five batters while walking one. Price was tagged for two more with two outs in the bottom of the sixth after allowing a lead-off walk; Randy Choate got the eventual win.

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