OAKLAND -- Rays closer Fernando Rodney earned his 30th save Sunday against the Angels in the Rays' 103rd game. In doing so, he became the quickest player in club history to reach 30 saves. Rafael Soriano reached the mark in the Rays' 104th game in 2010.
Rodney is just the fourth pitcher since saves became an official statistic in 1969 to earn 30 saves and have a sub-1.00 ERA prior to the 104th game of the season.
Others who have done so are Oakland's Dennis Eckersly (1990, 32 saves and 0.81 ERA), Atlanta's John Smoltz (2003, 39, 0.83) and Seattle's J.J. Putz (2007, 31, 0.89). Entering Monday night's game, Rodney had a 0.77 ERA.]
"He's been a great surprise," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Just think about where he came from and where he got to this year. Then to do the two [saves] down there [over the weekend in Anaheim, where Rodney pitched the past two seasons], I know that was special for him based on what had happened the last couple of years. I was real happy for him."
Maddon expects Rays to stand pat at Deadline
OAKLAND -- Major League Baseball's Trade Deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and heading into the final 24 hours before the deadline passes, the Rays are looking more and more like they will stand pat.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he texted a couple of times on Monday with Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, "but nothing, zero" according to Maddon.
When a reporter noted that it sounded as though things were "fairly quiet" on the trade front, Maddon replied: "They are. Extremely quiet."
"There's nothing for me to think about right now, it's just play today and not worry about anything because it's probably going to look like this after the Trade Deadline," Maddon said.
Maddon said that he expected to have the same 25-man roster for Tuesday night's game that he had Monday night.
Of note, James Shields is scheduled to start for the Rays Tuesday night. When Maddon was asked if he had a contingency plan for who might start in the event that Shields got traded, he replied: "Have not even thought about that. Because I don't believe it's going to happen."
Inside the Rays' clubhouse, the atmosphere appeared loose Monday afternoon.
B.J. Upton, who has not been the focus of as many rumors this year as in years past, said he believes the team will be in good shape if it doesn't make a deal.
"We believe we can win, we believe we can win, man," Upton said. "And we believe we can do it with what we have. Now if they do happen to make a move, I mean that's kind of out of our hands. We don't really know what's going on with the front office. That's kind of their department, and let them handle that."
Based on what's happened in the past, Upton can empathize with Shields, who easily has been the Rays player most mentioned in trade rumors.
"Yeah, it's kind of a running joke between me and him," Upton said. "We see each other every day and it's like, 'You're still here? I'm still here.' It hasn't really bothered us, we know [trade talk is] part of it."
Like Maddon, Upton expects the team to remain in place after the deadline passes.
Shields didn't care to speculate on the hypothetical question about being traded.
"I don't like to say anything until something happens," Shields said. "I'm an in-the-moment guy. ... We still have 24 hours left. Hopefully I'm still here. It is what it is. It's part of the game."
Rays making up for low average with walks
OAKLAND -- Entering Monday night's game against the Athletics, the Rays ranked last in the Major Leagues (.231 average) in hitting for the first time this season after hitting .208 in their past eight games.
Offsetting that negative stat is the fact the Rays continue to lead the Major Leagues in walks.
Only once in Major League history has a team led the Major Leagues in walks while finishing last in batting. That team was the 1914 Yankees when they hit .229 and drew 577 walks. That team went 70-84 and finished sixth in the American League.
The Rays rank just below Oakland and Seattle (both are hitting .232). In the DH era (since 1973), there has never been a season when the American League had the three lowest-hitting teams in the Major Leagues.
Rays hitters are hitting just .188 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said right-hander Jeff Niemann [right fibula fracture] and third baseman Evan Longoria [partially torn left hamstring] are both making nice progress toward returning to the team. Maddon said Niemann will throw a simulated game Friday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Meanwhile, Longoria is being used as a designated hitter at Triple-A Durham and it's reasonable to expect that he will be back with the team at some point during the team's next homestand.
Elliot Johnson is into Twitter (@elliotjohnson9) and he plans to run a contest every Tuesday for the remainder of the season where he will give away a prize for anyone who can correctly submit that night's lineup. When told of Johnson's plan, Maddon said he would probably contribute the lineup card from that night's game to the winner to "support Elliot." He noted he would not trick up the lineup to prevent entrants from guessing correctly.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.