9:41 PM EDT, July 20, 2014
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - INSIDE PITCH
MINNEAPOLIS -- The four days off at the All-Star break have done nothing to cool the Tampa Bay Rays.
After winning their final two games before the break, Tampa came to Minnesota and immediately took the first two games at Target Field, taking advantage of two quality pitching performances and getting some timely two-out hitting. They capped the series with a 5-3 win Sunday, sweeping the Twins and improving to 14-3 over their last 17 road games overall.
"I'm really impressed with how we've played, especially with that many days off," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Against the Twins, it's seemingly been a different hero every night.
While third baseman Evan Longoria did the damage in Friday's game, clearing the bases with a double off the right field wall in a 6-2 win, it was the bottom of the order that played hero on Saturday, including a two-run homer and an RBI single from No. 9 hitter, designated hitter Sean Rodriguez. The bottom four hitters in the order had seven hits, knocked in all five and scored four runs in a 5-1 win.
Sunday, it was first baseman James Loney, who capped a big weekend against the Twins by going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. He finished the series 7-for-12 at the plate.
"If we're going to get back in this thing, everybody is going to have to play and participate," Maddon said. "We gotta get something out of everybody to get back in the hunt."
The double for Longoria was the perfect opportunity to get his second half off in the right direction. Longoria hit a disappointing .257 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs before the break, but came up big in his first chance after it.
"That's what can really start to breed confidence," Longoria said. "It was a good time for me to be able to do that and have a new slate here in the second half."
The Rays have also done a good job of picking up one another in critical times during the series in Minnesota. Friday, it was Longoria's double that came after a pop up in foul territory by Matt Joyce. That was the second out of the inning, and had a chance to derail the threat before any damage had been done.
"I've been getting picked up this whole season, so it was good to finally return the favor," Longoria said. "Joyce has been swinging the bat really well for us, especially in those situations."
Saturday, Tampa led off the second inning with back-to-back singles before the second of five double plays left a runner on third with two outs. A single by catcher Jose Molina got Tampa on the board before Rodriguez's big fly put the game out of reach with lefty ace David Price on the bump.
"There's no doubt about that," Maddon said. "The bottom of the order (this month) has been really productive and I like that. The fact that we know we can score runs in the bottom of the batting order definitely augments you."
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - NOTES, QUOTES
NEXT: Rays (RHP Jake Odorizzi, 5-8, 4.01 ERA) at Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright, 12-4, 1.83 ERA)
--3B Evan Longoria doubled twice Sunday, tying and surpassing former OF Carl Crawford's previous franchise record for two-base hits (215). Longoria's second double also drove in a run, the 592nd RBI of his career, tying him with Crawford for the franchise record in that category as well.
--RHP Chris Archer got the win Sunday, allowing three runs (one earned) over 6 1/3 innings of work. He improved his career record against the Twins to 3-0 (three starts) with a 0.49 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. "I didn't have my wipe-out slider consistently," Archer said. "But I threw some change ups to counteract my slider not being quite where I wanted to be and at times when I needed a pitch, I threw my fastball." Over his last seven starts away from Tropicana Field overall, Archer has a 1.87 ERA in 43 1/3 innings.
--1B James Loney went 2-for-4 Sunday and finished the three-game series against the Twins 7-for-12 at the plate. The multi-hit game was his 32nd of the season, which leads the Rays and was tied with Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the most among American League first basemen. "He's going to surprise you moving forward, the homers will start coming on the pull side," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "But for right now, he's looking real good."
--RHP Brad Boxberger struck out both batters he faced Sunday, giving him his ninth straight scoreless appearance. Boxberger earned his ninth hold of the season and dropped his ERA to 2.33.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm throwing the ball better. I said that a month-and-a-half ago, six or seven starts ago. I've never been the pitcher I am right now. It's awesome, it's cool, I enjoy it. I want to get better every day and I'm constantly looking for things to critique and give hitters something else to think about." -- Rays LHP David Price on how he feels this season compared to his 2012 American League Cy Young Award-winning campaign.
MLB Team Report - Tampa Bay Rays - ROSTER REPORT
--RF Wil Myers (right wrist sprain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 31. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 18. It was decided June 3 that he would not need surgery, although he was in a cast until it was removed in mid-July. He might return in mid-August.
--C Ryan Hanigan (left oblique strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 17, retroactive to July 9.
--INF/OF Jerry Sands (strained tendon in left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list June 23. The wrist will be immobilized until mid-July. He is scheduled to have surgery by the end of July and be out for the year.
--DH David DeJesus (fractured left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list June 19. He might return in early to mid-August.
--SS Tim Beckham (right knee surgery in December 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list March 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 1. He was training with the Rays' high Class A club as mid-April.
--LHP Matt Moore (left elbow surgery in April 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list April 8, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 27. He is out for the season.
LHP David Price
RHP Chris Archer
RHP Jake Odorizzi
RHP Alex Cobb
LHP Jake McGee (closer)
RHP Joel Peralta
RHP Kirby Yates
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo
RHP Grant Balfour
RHP Brad Boxberger
LHP Erik Bedard
LHP Cesar Ramos
1B James Loney
2B Logan Forsythe
SS Yunel Escobar
3B Evan Longoria
INF Cole Figueroa
LF Matt Joyce
CF Desmond Jennings
RF Ben Zobrist
OF/INF Sean Rodriguez
OF Kevin Kiermaier
OF Brandon Guyer
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