Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays 5, Yankees 2

Confident Rays add another win against Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG — Throughout the Rays' run to the American League's best record, there has been an element of surprise.

An unexpected star would emerge with each confidence-building win: Nathan Haynes' extra-inning single against Boston. Gabe Gross knocking in a run off unflappable Mariano Rivera.

"You never know who's going to be the hero that day," backup catcher Shawn Riggans said.

Thursday, it was Riggans' turn.

The 27-year-old rookie, playing for the first time in 11 days, delivered with two hits, including a two-run homer, to help lift the Rays to a 5-2 win over the Yankees in front of 19,976 at Tropicana Field. The victory was the third in four days over the Yankees, who dropped to last in the East, and gave the Rays their sixth series win in their past seven.

Tampa Bay (24-17) is alone in first for a club-record third straight day with a one-game lead over Boston. And it left for a six-game trip with an unprecedented feeling of confidence and small chip on its shoulder. The players believe in themselves. They're just waiting for the rest of the baseball world to catch up.

"It's a great feeling. Don't get me wrong," ace Scott Kazmir said. "But you listen to ESPN. … They talk about some guys, 'Oh I don't even know their names. They're going to finish (with) less than 82 wins or whatnot.' That motivates us. That really motivates us.

"So it's like, 'Keep doubting us.' We knew what we can do."

Kazmir knows his best is still yet to come. The left-hander, starting less than 24 hours after the announcement of his lucrative contract extension, pitched six scoreless innings — giving up three hits — and hinted he's "on the verge" of correcting some mechanical tweaks he has struggled with since starting the season on the disabled list with a strained left elbow.

His fastball command wasn't quite there, and neither was his velocity as he continues to open up his body near the end of his delivery. But he didn't need to be perfect; not with the defense played behind him.

On the game's opening play, Evan Longoria robbed Johnny Damon by diving to his left and snagging a sharp grounder.

"If that ball goes through, the Yankees have an entirely different vibe about the game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

"That ball is caught, and the momentum comes right back to us."

Akinori Iwamura, who has hit .382 in his past 11 games, helped keep the momentum with a leadoff homer off Ian Kennedy.

And Riggans helped break it open with his two-run homer in the fourth, a 411-foot blast.

Riggans hadn't played since what he labeled a mistake-filled game on May 4 in Boston. But instead of dwelling on what he called "one of my toughest days in baseball," Riggans showed growth and maturity. The calmer catcher culled confidence from "just being on this team."

"It feels like every game we go out there, you can see in everyone's eyes that we know we can win," Kazmir said. "We trust ourselves. We believe in ourselves. It's fun to be a Devil Ray."

Kazmir smiled and quickly corrected himself.

"Or a Ray, sorry."

Joe Smith can be reached at joe

Interleague interlude

With interleague play starting today, it's worth noting the Rays have been slightly better against NL teams (74-104, .416) than AL teams (595-885, .402). Their year-by-year interleague record:


19985-11Braves, Expos, Marlins, Mets, Phillies

19994-14 Braves, Expos, Marlins, Mets, Phillies

20009-9Braves, Expos, Marlins, Mets, Phillies

200110-8Braves, Expos, Marlins, Mets, Phillies

20027-11Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Marlins, Padres

20033-15Astros, Braves, Cubs, Marlins, Pirates, Reds

200415-3D'backs, Giants, Marlins, Padres, Rockies

20053-15Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Reds

200611-7Braves, D'backs, Marlins, Nationals, Phillies

20077-11D'backs, Dodgers, Marlins, Padres, Rockies

Confident Rays add another win against Yankees 05/15/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 17, 2008 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  2. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …