Two hours and forty-nine minutes after the first pitch was thrown, the Rays had earned their third series win in a nine-game road trip by the score of 4-1 over the Oakland Athletics. Dominant pitching and timely hitting provided the margin of victory. Alex Cobb, set-up man Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney held the Athletics in check as the offense benefitted from two runs scored by Jeff Keppinger and a pair of RBIs from Carlos Pena, including a home run in the eighth.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring early, as Desmond Jennings singled to lead off the game. B.J. Upton sacrificed him to second, and after Ben Zobrist grounded out, Matt Joyce delivered with a run-scoring single. In the top of the fifth, Keppinger stroked a one-out double and scored on a single by Ryan Roberts to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
After getting out of a bases loaded jam, Rays’ right-hander Alex Cobb retired ten in a row before giving up a solo homer to Brandon Inge on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the fifth. Pena answered for Tampa Bay in the top of the sixth, doubling in Keppinger, who had singled. Ryan Roberts singled sharply to left, sending Pena to third before Jose Molina popped out to third. Elliot Johnson reached first on an error by Jemile Weeks. The rally ended when Desmond Jennings grounded into a double play.
After following a rare strikeout by Keppinger, Pena took a hanging breaking ball from reliever Jordan Norberto deep into the right field bleachers for the Rays’ fourth run. It was Pena’s 15th round-tripper of the season as well as a team-leading 46th RBI.
Cobb left after throwing seven innings, allowing a single run on only four hits. Joel Peralta took the ball in the bottom of the eighth and set down the Athletics in order. Fernando Rodney pitched an uneventful ninth inning to earn his 31st save in thirty-two opportunities. Cobb’s record now sits at 5-8.
The Rays return home to face the Orioles of Friday night at 7:10 PM after enjoying an off-day tomorrow. Matt Moore will take the mound against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter at this point.
- Jeff Keppinger is hitting .339 with an on-base percentage of.424 over that stretch. He was 2-4 on the day with a double, and scored a pair of runs.
- Ryan Roberts had two hits as well, along with an RBI. Carlos Pena doubled and homered, and had a pair of ribbies.
- Fernando Rodney lowered his ERA to 0.74 while shutting out the Athletics in the ninth. He now has a K/BB ratio of 7/1, with forty-nine strikeouts and only seven walks this season.
- The Rays had 10 hits, with a pair each from Keppinger, Roberts, Desmond Jennings, and Pena.
- Alex Cobb had his second fine outing in a row. While allowing only four hits, he also struck out six while only giving up one free pass.
- Tampa Bay held onto James Shields, who was rumored to be going here, there, or anywhere. After the trade deadline came and went, “Complete Game” James was dominant, shutting out Oakland on only three hits. With their club built around pitching, I’m glad to see Shieldsy still with the club.