Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rays return home with some momentum

Well, you knew Troy Percival was in for a rough outing, giving his lack of work this season and, well, he's Troy Percival. Good thing the Rays handed him a six-run lead to protect Wednesday.

Hey, look at it this way: At least Percy gave those Orioles fans who stayed around for the bottom of the ninth something to cheer about.

The Rays scored four times in the ninth then held on for an 8-6 win.

The Rays return home Thursday to face the Indians for the start of an eight-game homestand that features four with the Indians and four with the Athletics. Not exactly a daunting task, since both are last-place teams.

Wednesday's win was the swing victory in what became a 5-4 road trip that could have been - should have been - better.

They held the lead in every game.

The bullpen blew leads in both games at New York and again during Sunday night's loss at Boston. The Rays were able to rally both nights against the Yankees. They had no answer for the Red Sox, despite having the tying and go-ahead run on second and third and one-out. Jonathon Papelbon pitched himself into and out of the jam, striking out Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to close the door.

Percival aside, the bullpen did a very good job against the Orioles. They picked up six shutout innings in Tuesday's loss and picked up another 3 2/3 shutout innings Wednesday.

James Shields fell apart in the Red Sox comeback last Friday.

Andy Sonnanstine gave further cause for concern Tuesday in Baltimore when he gave away a 5-1 lead in what appeared to be a matter of seconds. He's now 1-4 with a 7.27 ERA.

Designated hitter Pat Burrell left the road trip before Wednesday's game and returned to St. Pete so he could have his sore neck examined.

Despite that, the Rays showed some positive signs.

Upton's bat is showing life. Dioner Navarro has contributed offensively.

Jason Bartlett continues to hit, an indication, perhaps, his hot start may actually be a hot season. He now has five home runs this season.

Evan Longoria continues his record-setting RBI pace.

Crawford bruised his right shoulder making a diving catch Wednesday, and that will be a cause of concern.

So is Burrell's neck.

The Rays are 16-19. They have a chance to push themselves above .500 during this homestand.

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