On a night delayed 20 minutes when some lights went out at Tropicana Field due to a lightning strike nearby, it seemed as if the D-backs were trying to hit off of Rays’ starter Roberto Hernandez in the darkness throughout most of the game as he went the distance for the Rays in a 5-2 win.
Hernandez (6-11 4.71) baffled the D-backs hitters most of Tuesday night, as they could only manage three hits over eight innings before finally breaking through in the ninth inning with two hits, including a home run by Eric Chavez that ruined the shutout for Hernandez. It was the first complete game of the season for Hernandez and the seventh complete game thrown by Rays’ starters in the month of July.
With one game remaining in the month of July, the Rays’ 21-4 record in the month has them sitting atop the AL East, half a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. With that record, the Rays currently have the second best all-time record for the month of July, trailing only the 1941 New York Yankees who had a record of 25-4.
The Rays offense got off to a quick start scoring two runs off of D-backs starter Ian Kennedy within the first four batters. Desmond Jennings led off the game with a double to left center and was sent home by a Ben Zobrist single. After Evan Longoria bounced into a force play, forcing Zobrist at second, James Loney continued his fantastic 2013 season with a booming double to deep centerfield scoring Longoria.
Loney has been a great addition to the Rays this season, both defensively, and probably more surprisingly, offensively. Coming off of a season where he hit a combined .249 with just six home runs and 49 RBI for the Dodgers and Red Sox, the Rays’ have been the beneficiary of a resurgence by Loney, as he has already eclipsed those numbers before the end of July, batting .316 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI.
In addition to the RBI by Loney, Zobrist was 3 for 4 with two RBI and Yunel Escobar was 2 for 2 including his 8 home run of the season off of Kennedy in the 4th inning.
The short, two game series concludes Wednesday night as the D-backs will send Wade Miley (7-8 3.86) to the mound against the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson (10-3 4.48). Hellickson is coming off of a win in his previous start against the Yankees on Friday in which he went six innings while giving up just one earned run in the Rays’ 10-6 win. Game time is 7:10 PM at Tropicana Field.
Rays’ starter Alex Cobb is scheduled to pitch three innings for Class-A Port Charlotte on Saturday after he threw 50 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday. Cobb has been on the disabled list since June 15 when he suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a line drive.