Rays staying well-armed for close battles

Rays staying well-armed for close battles

Rays staying well-armed for close battles
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have been on the wrong end of a 1-0 final score three times this season.

The most recent was Tuesday's night's 10-inning loss to the Royals, snapping Tampa Bay's five-game winning streak. The Rays' previous 1-0 loss was to Seattle in Felix Hernandez's perfect game on Aug. 15.

That win streak between a pair of 1-0 losses is the longest in 69 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Yankees won eight straight in between their defeats to the White Sox and St. Louis Browns in 1943.

If there's a positive to take from it, it's that the pitching has been historically good. Tampa Bay led the American League with a 3.27 ERA entering Wednesday and was just behind Washington (3.25) for the best mark in the Majors. The last four AL teams to finish a season with an ERA that low went on to advance to the World Series, with two of those teams winning it.

It's not that the opposing teams can't come through in the clutch either; getting on base is a problem itself. The Rays have held their opponents to a .233 average this season and can become the first team to lead the AL in the category in three straight seasons since the Tigers in 1985.

When Tampa Bay's starters have struggled, the bullpen has come through. The 2.86 ERA entering Wednesday also was tops in the league, and since the All-Star break, the 'pen's 1.24 mark is best in the Majors.

Closer Fernando Rodney's been the anchor of the group, notching a career-high 38 saves. He's seven shy of the club record held by Rafael Soriano (45 in 2010).