The Tampa Bay Rays woke up at the plate in the fifth inning of Friday night’s series opener against the Yankees in New York, scoring three times to hand pitching ace David Price a two-run lead in his showdown with CC Sabathia.
The Rays might have gotten a few more. They scored two runs and loaded the bases with no one out to bring up Evan Longoria with a chance to blow the game open, but he grounded into a double play and they settled for just one more.
Sound familiar? The Orioles have been doing that kind of thing all year – minimizing a lot of promising chances to make life easier in the late innings – but it’s hard to argue when they are able to make what they get stand up.
Price is a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, so three runs are usually enough, but he didn’t make things easy on himself either. He came out for the bottom of the fifth and immediately allowed Curtis Granderson’s 38th home run to make it a one-run game.
No matter. The Rays added to their lead in seventh and eighth innings and – at least for a few hours -- temporarily knocked the Yankees out of first place. Price was coming back from some shoulder soreness, but there was no sign of any problem. His fastball hit 97 mph and his command was solid.
This is something of a survival series for the Rays, who could not get anything going offensively against the O’s over the weekend and dropped four games out of first place. Baltimore sports fans, however, are looking at the Rays-Yankees series as a huge opportunity for the Orioles, since one of those teams has to lose every night.
Of course, they’d prefer it to be the Yankees.