The Tampa Bay Rays ten game losing streak, which had equaled the Boston Red Sox for the longest in the majors this season, came to end on Friday night as the Rays backed by a superb pitching performance from Erik Bedard shutout the visiting Seattle Mariners 4-0.
Bedard (3-4) struck out eight in six innings, allowing just four hits with eight strikeouts and a walk to give the Rays their first win since May 25, when they defeated the Red Sox. Bedard’s win snapped a personal three-game losing streak and he became the first Rays starting pitcher in 19 games to earn a win.
“The music’s back on in the clubhouse after the game,” said Maddon. It’s good to hear the music again.’’
Despite the win, the Rays (24-38) still hold the majors worst record but the effort shown and the teams play on this night clearly was visible as the long-established winning formula of strong defense, excellent pitching and timely hitting returned.
Rookie Kevin Kiermaier continues to shine not only with his defense, but his offense as well. For the second consecutive game Kiermaier sparked the team with his base running when he hustled his way into second base with his single to right in the fourth inning.
Advancing to third on a wild pitch from Chris Young, Kiermaier scored the Rays first run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Molina, his first RBI since last September. Since May 18, Kiermaier leads the Rays with 3 home runs and 7 extra base hits.
The Rays added a pair of runs in the fifth inning on some nifty play calling by manager Joe Maddon, taken from the late Don Zimmer’s book that saw Evan Longoria score on a safety squeeze bunt by Desmond Jennings with James Loney on first.
Longoria opened the inning with a single and moved to third on Loney’s chopper over the head of Mariners’ first baseman Justin Smoak. The squeeze worked not only with Longoria scoring, but Jennings was safe at first as Young couldn’t get the ball out of his glove. Yunel Escobar’s two-out RBI single put the Rays up 3-0.
The Rays, who left a season high 15 men on base, added a seventh-inning run on back-to-back singles by Escobar and Kiermaier, Molina’s sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch by Tom Wilhelmsen.
The ten game losing streak for the Rays was just the second since becoming the Rays in 2008 but the eighth of 10 or more overall in their history and the first since dropping 11 straight from September 3-13, 2009.
Prior to the Rays game on Saturday afternoon against the Mariners, the Rays will honor the life of Don Zimmer who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83.
The ceremony will include a video tribute to Zimmer, former players and managers including Andre Dawson, Tommy Lasorda, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre are expected to attend.
Additionally, the Rays will unveil a ZIM patch that will be worn on their jersey sleeve, bagpipe music will be played and Zimmer’s granddaughter Whitney Mollica Goldstein will throw out the first pitch and son Tom will catch it.