RAYS 6, New York 2
Scott Kazmir was great, and he managed to work into the 8th inning. I really can't remember the last time I saw Kaz on the mound that late in a game (pretty sure it was July, 21st of last year in a 4-0 win over the Athletics) but it was sure nice to see it again. This is the kind of performance--in a big game, against a hot team--that makes people excited about Kazmir, and also what makes us so frustrated when he underperforms. Kid-K struck out four while only walking one and giving up one run on five hits. Not a bad night's work.
The Rays Defense didn't necessarily "wow" on every play, but it was solid. This was in direct contrast to the Yankees defense, which looked sluggish and inept through most of the game. These two factors, in combination with Kazmir's excellent pitching and good relief work (how cool was that double play Balfour got Jeter to hit into?), go an awful long way towards explaining the line score.
Speed kills. The Rays hit three triples and two doubles to go along with Longoria's solo homerun, thereby illustrating the fact that stolen bases ain't the only way fast runnin' helps a team.
The Boston Red Sox lost to Oakland.
Since I live in NYC and do not own a TV, I watched this game at a bar full of Yankee fans (since I live in Brooklyn, there're usually more Mets fans than Yankee fans around, but for some reason even the Mets fans were pulling for the Bombers last night, almost as though they were bitter about something...). When you watch the Rays beat the Yankees from such a vantage point, it's hard to find things to whine about. Oh, sure, Pat the Rally Killer and Carlos "El Gatinho" Peña went a collective 0-fer with a 5:1 K-BB ratio, but I don't feel like I need to bring that up.
Coolstandings now has the Rays' chances of making the playoffs at 30.6%. That number will take another leap forward if the Rays pull off the series win tonight. If the Good Matt Garza shows up, the Rays have an excelleng shot at winning. If the Bad Matt Garza shows up, the Rays still have a shot at pounding Joba Chamberlain and the Yanks into submission.
With the Red Sox helping out by forgetting how to win, the Rays have a real opportunity here to make up some ground. On the other hand, the Rays are still five games behind Boston in the loss column, and they really can't afford to let that number get any bigger. Point being: the Rays have got to take this series tonight and build up some momentum so they can buzzsaw the Royals when they roll into town tomorrow.