Losing three straight games to the Yankees when they needed them most hamstrung the Rays in their pursuit of the Red Sox. Now, teetering on the brink of extinction, the Rays managed to pull off a blowout of mammoth proportions, winning 15-8 (though that makes it seem closer than it was) by riding the bat of Ben Zobrist and the arm of their most promising young pitcher. In so doing, they moved to within two games of Boston.
Matt Moore is considered the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, and he had quite the first career start. Historic, even. For a rookie, and for anyone:
That's pretty crazy. It's worth noting that Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner were all given days off, but it's still impressive. If the Rays somehow do pull this out, it's not difficult to imagine Moore having an eerily similar impact to that which David Price did when the Rays went to the Series.
Moore went precisely five innings, giving up four hits and a walk, before yielding to his bullpen, which surrendered eight runs in four innings to a watered-down Yankee offense. Zobrist and B.J. Upton each went 3-4 with a home run and three RBI to propel the Tampa offense, which generated 13 runs in the first five frames.
Meanwhile, on the other side, this game meant nothing. The Yankees clinched the division Wednesday night, and are now in full rest-up-for-the-postseason mode. All three backup catchers — Jorge Posada, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine — saw action in this game (Posada at first base) and all hit. This is the only indecision concerning Yankee fans at the moment.
Bartolo Colon might have pitched himself out of the playoff rotation, giving up seven runs in three innings. After CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, the Yankees might prefer rolling with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia over Colon and A.J. Burnett.