People are very quick to forget how long the Major League Baseball season actually is. And with about 60 games to go still, the Tampa Bay Rays are building the type of momentum that could very well carry a team all the way through to a World Series Championship.
Ok, we should not get ahead of ourselves, but the Rays are the hottest team in the big's despite a recent loss, after scuffling out of the gates, which did not make a whole lot of sense given the talent and winning pedigree up and down the roster.
After spending just about the entire season alternating with the Boston Red Sox in the basement of the American League East, the Rays beat Boston on Friday night to move to 7.5 games within the division lead. The win makes Tampa Bay 6-0 after the All-Star break festivities and makes them winners in eight straight ballgames.
Amid trade rumors, David Price won another game for his team - his 11th of the year with eight innings, allowing just three runs. Price struck out 10 Red Sox and didn't walk a batter, while allowing eight hits. But his team had to come from behind to earn him the win at the Trop - on two different occasions.
Shane Victorino put Boston in the lead twice Friday night. "The Flyin' Hawaiian" homered in the second inning with no one on base. And then Victorino singled in David Ortiz in the sixth inning. The home run put Boston up 1-0 and the RBI single made it 3-2. David Ortiz singled home Dustin Pedroia earlier in the inning to tie the game after the Rays had gone up 2-1.
Desmond Jennings got into a ball in the fifth off of Jon Lester for a two-run, go-ahead homer. Lester, who has been pitching phenomenally over his last nine starts, would not get the loss on this night. The Red Sox ace went six strong innings with his only blemish being the Jennings long ball. He struck out seven with just one walk, while surrendering six hits. And suddenly, his name is going around in some trade rumors with the Red Sox falling back out of the race after their hot start to the second half.
Junichi Tazawa got hit with the loss when he gave up three runs in just two-thirds of an inning in the seventh. Both Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria got Tazawa for RBI hits in the inning to put the Rays ahead for good.
David Ross added a run in the ninth when he lifted a sacrifice fly off of Jake McGee, but it didn't prove to affect anything at the end of the game. The Rays held on for a 6-4 win despite being outhit 10-8. The loss marks three straight for Boston after collecting a five-game winning streak dating back to its last game before the All-Star break.
They did bounce back with a 3-2 win over the Rays on Sunday night, but Tampa Bay is still looking good for a late run.