Stuck in a rut the last two weeks, the Tampa Bay Rays may have
received just the boost they’ve been looking for.
The Rays try to build on an encouraging victory and move five
games over .500 for the first time in a month in Wednesday’s finale
with the Oakland Athletics.
It seemed like Tampa Bay (54-50) would be in for a long night
Tuesday facing Tommy Milone. The Rays had combined for 11 runs in
their previous five games and Milone came in with a major
league-best 0.91 home ERA.
It was Tampa Bay’s James Shields, who had been the subject of
trade rumors, that silenced the opposition, however. He tossed a
three-hitter, and the Rays reached Milone for five runs in six
innings in an 8-0 win.
“That was as clean a game as we’ve played in a long time,”
manager Joe Maddon said.
B.J. Upton drove in a pair of runs and Desmond Jennings scored
twice for Tampa Bay, which pulled within 2 1/2 of Oakland (56-47)
for the AL’s second wild-card spot and moved four games over .500
for the fourth time since July 20. The Rays haven’t been five over
the break-even mark since July 3.
Tampa Bay scored more than six runs for only the second time in
18 games since the All-Star break, and seeing how the offense fared
against Milone, it could be poised for another solid showing versus
Jarrod Parker (7-4, 3.38 ERA).
Parker gave up a season high-tying six runs and eight hits while
striking out eight in five innings in Friday’s 14-9 win over
Baltimore, but didn’t get the decision. The rookie right-hander,
who has never faced the Rays, has a 6.46 ERA in his last four
starts after sporting a 1.01 ERA in his previous four.
Despite some of his recent struggles, the A’s have still won
five of his last six outings.
The Rays haven’t enjoyed as much success with scheduled starter
Alex Cobb (4-8, 4.93 ERA), losing eight of his last 10.
Oakland set a franchise record for winning percentage in July at
19-5, but ended the month dropping two of three. It combined for
five runs in those games after averaging 9.4 runs in winning four
Yoenis Cespedes was held without a hit for just the second time
in 18 games Tuesday, but manager Bob Melvin didn’t read too much
“When someone is pitching that well it’s tough to analyze the
offense,” he said.
The offense will try to rebound against Cobb, who is 1-5 with a
6.25 ERA in his last six starts.
Against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, the right-hander gave
up three runs and eight hits while walking none in seven innings of
a 3-1 loss. He was making his first start since leaving his outing
against Seattle on July 21 after two innings because of a bruised
“Overall I felt good,” he said. “I’ve been struggling the last
couple of games with my fastball command, and I felt that was there
(Friday). I was able to get ahead most of the game, and when you’re
in the driver’s seat, it makes pitching a lot easier.”
Cobb wasn’t as effective in his lone outing against Oakland last
August, yielding five runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1-3
innings of an 8-0 loss.