Insider: Rays Complete Historic Sweep of Angels

Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Zack Greinke. These were the four pitchers the Tampa Bay Rays faced after Felix Hernandez tossed a perfect game against them on Wednesday. While it looked like tough times ahead for the offense, the group responded with 27 runs off 28 hits and seven walks in 17.1 innings against the Los Angeles Angels quartet. In total, the Rays outscored the Angels 37-14 during the four-game sweep which included a historic eight-run rally on Saturday.

After David Price cut down Los Angeles in the opener, the Rays exploded against Jered Weaver on Friday. The Rays’ offense smashed Weaver in his worst career start (nine earned runs) while James Shields worked a smooth six innings during the 12-3 rout. Tampa Bay belted out 17 hits on the night including seven extra-base hits.

On Saturday, the Rays fell behind 7-0 after two innings, and were down 8-0 after three. Following four straight starts of personal excellence, Alex Cobb had nothing for the Angels in this one. The score stayed the same until the fifth inning where the Rays offense exploded for seven runs including a bases-clearing double by Ben Zobrist and a two-run blast by Evan Longoria.

Drawing parallels to Game 162, Sam Fuld got the rally started with an RBI in Game 120. Longoria’s home run cut the lead down to one, and Carlos Pena played the role of Dan Johnson. With a runner on in the top of the eighth inning, Joe Maddon summoned his slugging, yet struggling, first baseman off the bench. Facing hard-throwing Kevin Jepsen, Pena belted a pinch-hit, two-run homer (the first pinch-hit home run of his career) to give the Rays a 10-8 lead. The game got interesting in the ninth; however, Fernando Rodney was able to nail down his 38th save of the season, completing the historic comeback.

Following a night of dramatics, the Rays swept to Los Angeles with relative easy on Sunday. The offense took advantage of an erratic Zack Grienke, scoring four runs in the fourth. They would tack on two more in the fifth and later in the ninth to set the team record for runs scored in a four-game series (37).

Matt Moore was not at his best, but was good enough to reach his 10th win of the season. The lefty allowed two runs (solo home runs) in 6.1 innings, striking out five and walking two. Facing all right-handers, Moore used his breaking ball to generate swings and misses. He coaxed 10 swings on the pitch with the Angels coming up empty six times. Of his five strikeouts, four game on breaking balls. He induced three swinging strikeouts with the soft stuff and caught the powerful Mark Trumbo looking on a dazzling hook for the other.

With Moore struggling a bit with command in the seventh inning, Maddon had a relatively quick hook, pulling the rookie after 87 pitches. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Wade Davis picked up the final eight outs to seal the sweep.

With no off-day scheduled, the Rays traveled from the West Coast last night and will open a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals. Jeremy Hellickson gets the nod in game one followed by David Price and James Shields.