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 win opener of key series with Orioles

BALTIMORE — For nearly four hours Monday night, the Rays did all they could to hang on, escaping jam after jam, first David Price then a procession of four relievers, clinging to a slim lead, stranding 15 Orioles, nine in scoring position.

Then at the end of what several said felt like a playoff game, they were hanging out, sharing handshakes and high-fives and the usual postgame dance celebration after a tense 4-3 victory.

"That was the prevent defense the entire night," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "At its best."

The Rays continued their latest roll, having won five of six following a six-game losing streak, improving to 71-52 (with 39 to play), putting 4½ games between them and the third-place Orioles and remaining one game behind the American League East leading Red Sox, who won at San Francisco.

The Rays took an early 2-0 lead, Evan Longoria hitting his 25th homer in the first, Kelly Johnson rapping a third straight single in the second. After the Orioles pulled even, the Rays went ahead again 4-2 in the fourth on a majestic blast by Matt Joyce onto the patio above the rightfield wall.

But the story was how they hung on, a sequence of solid performances by their pitchers — and a huge throw by catcher Jose Molina. "Maybe the throw of the year," Maddon said.

Price had his roughest and shortest outing since his return from the disabled list, allowing 10 hits and two walks and lasting only five innings because he threw 99 pitches (more than in any of his complete-game wins) but — somehow — allowing only the two runs.

"That was the most draining it has been in a while," Price said. "We made some pitches when we needed to, I had some hard-hit balls right at guys, you have to have that good fortune sometimes."

Consider that Price — who had to change undershirts and his jersey because he sweated through them — ended four of his innings in distressful situations: Bases loaded once, second and third twice, first and second once.

"He battled his butt off, and he did what he had to do to keep us in the game," Molina said.

Price had made seven previous career starts in which he allowed 10 or more hits and lost them all. But not Monday night.

"That's the whole thing about a veteran kind of a guy," Maddon said. "He's not going to give in to the moment there. They're going to continue to grind it out. They know they can get through it if they make pitches. And that's what he did. It was outstanding."

"Price is the pitcher he is,'' Baltimore's Adam Jones said, "because he knows how to get out of jams like that."

The Orioles pulled to 4-3 on a homer by Matt Wieters leading off the seventh against Joel Peralta, who Maddon used because he wanted to have the switch-hitting Wieters bat left-handed, but the Rays didn't let them get any closer.

As well as Price did in escaping repeatedly, Maddon said the highest praise goes to reliever Jake McGee, who got a huge out to end another threat in the seventh then overcame a botched fly ball by Jason Bourgeois that put the tying run on second in the eighth.

"That felt like a playoff game a little bit, the whole game," McGee said. "It was a big game for us. It seemed like somebody was on every inning."

There was, actually, and the 15 left on tied a Rays record for a nine-inning win.

Then it came down to Fernando Rodney, who had blown his past two saves and was getting his first opportunity since the Aug. 9 meltdown in Los Angeles.

Fitting the theme of the night, he, too, didn't make it easy, allowing a leadoff single, with pinch-runner Alexi Casilla caught trying to steal — "That was an amazing feeling and it gave us a chance to win the game," Molina said — then a walk before ending it.

Molina got most of the attention for the throw, but said Rodney, who is typically notoriously bad at holding runners on. deserved credit for quickening his delivery at such a crucial moment.

"He told me, 'Do the best you can with your slide step,' and it worked,'' Rodney said. "He got a good throw, and we got the out."

In retrospect, Rodney called it a "a weird game.''

Maddon's best adjective to describe it? Thick.

"When you get tense and you get awkward and you get trepidation and craziness, it's thick," he said. "That was a thick game right there."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Rays win opener of key series with Orioles 08/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Koetter: QB Jameis Winston will start Sunday vs. Bills


    After five days of uncertainty, Jameis Winston will be starting at quarterback on Sunday as the Bucs play at Buffalo, coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday afternoon.

    Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.
  2. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed


    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Most important stat in Bucs-Bills game


    Greg Auman talks about the uncertainty at quarterback for the Bucs as they go to Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Interceptions, such as this one by Brent Grimes against Arizona, will be the most important stat in Sunday's game.
  4. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'


    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  5. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations


    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)