The Rays kept their slim postseason hopes alive and David Price became the first 20-game winner in franchise history with a 6-2 victory over the White Sox.
The win was the Rays' 10th in their 11 games, but they again didn't get any of the help they needed. With the Orioles and Yankees winning, the Rays' were left with only one chance to make the playoffs, winning the second wild card.
They started the day 3 behind the A's, who were playing late this afternoon, and also behind the Angels, who won the first of two games vs. Texas.
By winning Sunday, the Rays do at least head home to play the Orioles on Monday at least technically alive. RHP Alex Cobb will face Baltimore LHP Wei-Yin Chen, and plenty of tickets are available.
Price was not as dominating as in his last start, but he held on to the early lead the Rays got him and worked seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two (and hitting another) and striking out 4.
B.J. Upton led the way with a pair of home runs, giving him 28 for the season, giving him a shot to be the first 30-30 player in team history. …
UPDATE, 1:12: Maddon reiterated his confidence and belief that even though the Rays need to win out and get help, they will still end up in the playoffs. ... He said of all the lefties he felt Scott had the best chance to match up with Quintana, possibly with power. ... Gimenez is starting because he hits lefties well, but also because Molina is not ready to start. He is available to work late in the game.
Sox lineup: Wise cf Youkilis 3b Dunn dh Konerko 1b Rios rf Pierzynski c Viciedo lf Ramirez ss Beckham 2b Quintana p
UPDATE, 12:09: Gimenez is at catcher again. Scott at DH against the lefty. Lineup: Jennings lf, Upton cf, Zobrist ss, Longoria 3b, Keppinger 1b, Scott dh, Francisco rf, Roberts 2b Gimenez c, Price p
After an odd day in which an impressive 10-4 win felt like a loss, the Rays look to keep their slim playoff chances alive until they get home on Monday.
In simplest form, if the Rays win today - and they do have 20-win seeking David Price on the mound - they will ensure they are still playing for something Monday when they open a season-ending three-game series with the Orioles. …
The Rays did their part to stay alive in the race for the American League wild-card spots, blasting the White Sox 10-4 on Saturday.
But they need help as well, and didn't get any Saturday afternoon, as the A's, down 4-0 in the fourth and 4-2 in the ninth, rallied for a 7-4 walkoff win over the Mariners. That left the Rays 3 games behind the A's with only four to play. The Orioles, who lead the AL wild-card field and were 4 ahead of the Rays at the start of the day, play tonight at home vs. Boston.
The Rays got an encouraging strong start from Matt Moore, who didn't allow a hit into the fifth and only one until taken out in the sixth.
And the Rays got lots of offense, chasing Sox Cy Young candidate Chris Sale in the fourth and hitting four home runs, including 2 by Matt Joyce.
The Rays finish their series with the Sox on Sunday and will have David Price on the mound.
As expected, Rays manager Joe Maddon was calm and confident in his pre-game media session today, saying he liked the vibe in the Rays clubhouse and still expects the Rays to pull this off despite the long odds.
"We have the exact same record as we did last year at the same point, and then I think we won five in a row - rock and roll,'' Maddon said. "Really, we've just got to continue to pitch like we have and we've got to take advantage of our offensive moments and see what the heck happens.
"I truly believe we can still do this.''
Maddon said he agreed with the theme in the clubhouse last night, that they need to win the final two here and then see what happens vs. Baltimore.
"Don't give up now, boys,'' he said. "We've come a long way in a short period of time over the last week or 10 days, so it's no time just because you've lost one game to start believing everything you're hearing and reading. You've got to continue to circle the wagons and believe in the group.''
UPDATE, 3:01: Though Maddon said he has confidence in Moore pitching well today, he also acknowledged "the leash is not very long" today, with RHP Chris Archer a likely candidate for duty. ... Maddon said he wanted to go as righthanded as he could, and that S-Rod has had good at-bats against some lefties, so that's why he wanted him in there. ... C Jose Molina was available for late inning duty on Friday, and is again today, and could be ready to return to the lineup as soon as Sunday.
UPDATE, 1:59: Rodriguez said he was told Friday he may play today; it appears to be his first ever start as DH - He has five plate appearances, 0-for-2 with three walks. ... For whatever it's worth, there was the usual amount of noise and banter in the Rays clubhouse.
UPDATE, 1:28: Rays go all righthanded with lineup vs. Sale, including S-Rod at DH.
Lineup: Jennings lf Upton cf Zobrist ss Longoria 3b Keppinger 1b Francisco rf Roberts 2b Rodriguez dh Gimenez c Moore p
The Rays take on the White Sox this afternoon (4 p.m. on Fox) all but mathematically needing a win to stay alive in the AL wild-card chase. …
With the Tigers battling the White Sox for the AL Central title, Detroit manager Jim Leyland has become a huge fan of ex-Tiger Fernando Rodney, who is now the Rays closer, and celebrates each save by shooting an imaginary arrow:
"You can tell Fernando Rodney that if he shoots that (arrow) three times in the next three days, I'll be his cupid forever.''
UPDATE, 6:59: Maddon said the change in LF had more to do with the matchup with Floyd tonight that Jennings' recent play - 0-for-13 on the road trip ... Molina is doing better, so much so that Maddon said he might be available to come in late tonight, though he probably won't be able to start for a few more days ... The White Sox named LHP Jose Quintana to start Sunday.
White Sox lineup:
De Aza cf Youkilis 3b Dunn dh Konerko 1b Rios rf Pierzynski c Viciedo lf Ramirez ss Beckham 2b Floyd p
UPDATE, 5:27: Fuld said he was a bit surprised to be in the lineup, but felt good after returning to action Thursday as a pinch-hitter (drawing a walk) after being out 10 days with a hamstring strain. ... Lobaton said he is excited by the opportunity he is getting. .... C Jose Molina, out since Tuesday with a quad strain, was moving about the clubhouse better and was planning to hit today, a sign of progress in his hopes to return. …
UPDATE: Our plans for video coverage of today's CityScape LLC presentation to the St. Petersburg City Council, in which private developer Darryl LeClair unveiled his proposal for a new Rays stadium in the Carillon area were thwarted by technical problems.
UPDATE, 7:11: The Angels also lost today, so the Rays take the field tonight with a chance to gain ground on everyone, and with their destinty now in their own hands if they can win out. They have the same number of losses as the Angels (70) and three fewer than the Orioles, whom they host next week in the final series.
UPDATE, 7:04: Maddon said he went with Lobaton at catcher again due to his solid outing Wednesday and the matchup with Peavy, but that Gimenez will get some time too. ... Jose Molina said his strained quad felt better today but he didn't sound optimistic about his availablity, as he planned to try to run a bit and simulate some catching movements. The cold weather is also an issue. ... Maddon spoke highly of Dan Johnson, the former Rays September hero now with the White Sox. ... There were many positive reviews for Wednesday's rookie dress-up and dance routine, with the general consensus that Desmond Jennings backflip was the highlight and that Chris Archer was the best-looking. "Scary,'' C Stephen Vogt said. …
Sign up for a Times digital subscription to join the conversation as the Rays' biggest stars take your questions in our monthly live video chat series, "Lunchtime Live with the Rays.'' Evan Longoria will join us Friday, April 18 at 12:30 p.m.
About the blog
The Tampa Bay Rays will head into the 2014 season with Evan Longoria, David Price, Ben Zobrist and a few new faces, including Grant Balfour. Can they best the Yankees and Red Sox in the highly competitive AL East? Come here to follow Rays news at Tropicana Field and beyond.