ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Daniel Nava swung through a 93-mph fastball from reliever Kirby Yates, and history was made.
The Tampa Bay Rays, no stranger to blanking opponents, secured another shutout with a 7-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday at Tropicana Field. It marked their 18th of the season, a team record, surpassing the 17 earned last year.
"Yeah, we’ve been good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That’s minus Matt Moore. We’ve switched gears, David (Price) vs. Drew (Smyly). Cobber (Alex Cobb) had been out for a long period of time. We’re talking some young pitchers too, inexperienced pitchers. … The combination of 18 shutouts, a very youthful staff — now David was a part of that number too, but it’s pretty interesting, and it bodes well for the future."
Tampa Bay has made a habit of baffling opposing hitters this season. The 18 shutouts lead the American League and place the Rays in a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for the most in the majors. Shutouts have decided thirty-three of Tampa Bay’s games.
Maddon is correct about his rotation’s youth. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is the group’s oldest at 27 years old. Cobb, a right-hander, is 26. Left-hander Drew Smyly and right-hander Chris Archer are both 25. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi is 24.
Saturday, Odorizzi shined in allowing just one hit and striking out seven in seven innings to produce the Rays’ latest shutout.
"It’s not just pitching," Odorizzi said. "It’s the defense. And defense today was phenomenal. … It’s not all pitching, so you need help when it comes to that."
Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier captured the feat best: The Rays are most dangerous when pitching and defense produce success.
"It’s just kind of how the Rays have always been," he said. "We feed off our pitching and defense, and a lot of us take a lot of pride in our defense, and I can’t really say that for a lot of organizations. But it’s something we really pride ourselves in, and it shows."