Yes, you read correct! With bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th and MLB RBI king Josh Hamilton stepping to the plate Joe Maddon signaled for 4, 4 pitches outside to intentionally walk in run #3. The move paid big dividends as Dan Wheeler recorded a K on Marlon Byrd for the save right after the walk. Nice move Joe!!
Scott Kazmir recorded his 9th victory this season. He pitched a solid 6 innings holding the potent Ranger offense virtually silent. Although he again had a high pitch count, 114, he only allowed 2 ER on 4 hits while giving up 4 free passes. Kaz also racked u p 7 strike outs. He said he felt much better after this start so hopefully this means he’ll pull it altogether just in time for the stretch run and on into the playoffs.
The offensive burst came in the form of extra base hits. Out of 10 total hits for the Rays 6 were for extra bases. Carlos Pena belted a 3-run shot and BJ Upton knocked a 2-run shot. Adding to the extra base parade were 2Bs by Upton, Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross and Willy Aybar.
The bullpen was a bit of a concern. Juan Salas appeared for the first time and promptly gave up 2 ER on 1 hit and 1 BB. Grant Balfour followed him and gave up 3 BB in just a third of an inning. Balfour really needs to find a second pitch. His fastball is lights out but when that’s all he’s throwing these professional hitters are going to catch up to it. Last night his control was clearly not good with the fastball. It would be nice to see him add something else to his arsenal.
The Rays finally go home with a very successful 7-3 road trip. Yes, these weren’t the best teams in the league they faced but isn’t that the point, beat the teams you should? Well, they did. They also improved their road record to 30-31, best in the Al East at this point. The Rays are home for a possible 3 (depends upon TS Fay) game set against LAA. Then back to the road for 3 against the CWS. These 6 games will say a lot about the current state of this team. Now they are playing the best the league has to offer. This is where the affect of injuries will show themselves or not…..up to the guys playing between the lines.