Strike-out Sale at the Trop

By on May 28, 2012

White Sox starter Chris Sale struck out 15 Tampa Bay Rays batters to set a strike out record at Tropicana Field. Sale who pitched at Lakeland High and Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers leaves his mark in Tampa. (photo by US Presswire / Kim Klement)

St. Petersburg, Fla. – When I looked on the schedule for Memorial Day weekend I put a big circle around the short, three game road trip in Boston.  A must win series for the Rays to keep Barry Melrose, I mean Bobby Valentine (I deem Bobby as the Barry Melrose of MLB) and Red Sox looking up.

I must admit I was thinking sweep when Fernando Rodney climbed the hill in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday night.  Then in a blink, that vision of grander was gone and so was the Rodney save streak as Jarrod Saltalamcchia hit a two-run walk-off bomb.

Fast forward to Sunday, bottom of the seventh, Rays lead 2-0,  Jeremy Hellickson pitching a gem; David Ortiz draws a walk, Kevin Youkilis bleeds a single up the middle and then bam a 3-run blast by Adrian Gonzalez.  Bosox lead 3-2.

Then the turning point of the weekend, Rays go ahead in the ninth with the cowhide being deposited in the stands by Sean Rodriguez for a 4-3 lead.  Fernando Rodney back in the 9th closing the door for his 16th save.

Now today the Rays take the diamond at the Trop for a Memorial Day matinee against the Chicago White Sox.  Could the “mo” that saved the Boston series continue?

Well, ah no…

The story of the first three and 5/6 innings was Lakeland’s Chris Sale mowing down Rays with nine strike outs.  But with Ben Zobrist on second after a frozen rope single to left and then a stolen base, which was really stolen because Sale picked Zobrist off first but Ben beat the throw to second.   Jose Lobaton drilled a single to left scoring Zobrist.  It was Lobaton’s first career RBI.  1-0 Rays.

After a Gordon Beckham single, Adam Dunn hits one about 450 feet to right off the scoreboard wall to put the Sox on top 2-1, which was the eventual final.

Chris Sale just kept cruising and was replaced by righty Jesse Crain after an impressive 7 and 1/3 innings, 115 pitches, 80 which were not balls, only giving up 1 run.

The Lakeland native put a local stamp of 15 strike-outs at Tropicana Field, most ever there.  (Pedro Martinez 14 in 1998)

Crain got the two outs the Sox needed in the 8th and Addison Reed earned his 5th save by pitching a solid 9th getting Zobrist to pop to third and then pinch hitters Matt Joyce and Luke Scott to fly out and ground out respectively.

Sale got the win and Rays’ Matt Moore took the hard luck loss.  Moore with his struggles of late left them in the clubhouse and tossed a solid line that should be good enough to win most games.  Only 4 hits over his seven innings,   2  earned runs and 1o k’s.

Joe Maddon said, “ Great to see Matt bounce back… a great game to build off.”   This was a game that featured 25 total strike outs and Maddon said, “A lot of punch-outs, ball wasn’t put in play much often, a great game for the purists.”

The Rays drop to 29-15 and a half game behind Baltimore who is at Toronto later tonight.

The Rays and Sox are back at it tomorrow night 7:10 with perfect game Phillip Humer on the hill for the Sox and James Shields for the Rays.  The teams wrap up the three gamer  with a Wednesday matinee, 1:10pm Trop time.

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