Rays bracing for that rare Sunday off-day
Series with A's will wrap on Saturday due to Republican Convention
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are in the midst of a strange week. Not only did they have to fly back from the West Coast on Sunday and then play a game Monday night, they faced other strange scheduling quirks.
For example, Wednesday's game against the Royals had a 1:10 p.m. ET start. Saturday's game against the A's will also have a 1:10 start, which can be attributed to Tropicana Field facilitating a party for the Republican National Convention.
Tampa Bay will not have a Sunday game because Tropicana Field will be used for an RNC party. Thus, the Rays will wrap up the three-game A's series that starts Thursday with an afternoon affair on Saturday to allow time for preparation for the soiree.
"Sunday's going to feel really weird," outfielder Sam Fuld said. "It would be even weirder if there were regular-season NFL games. Then it would be totally foreign.
"I've never had a Sunday off during my pro career -- never. College I guess would be the last time. It will be like a tease to the offseason."
Added Wade Davis: "I never heard of Sunday off. I don't think anybody has. Weird, right?"
As for getting reacquainted with East Coast time, Fuld believes the team should be over any lingering effects from the time change.
"I think we're OK," Fuld said. "[Tuesday], maybe we were a little dead. We always talk about that second day. Quick turnaround today, but we'll be a little more energized. We'll be juiced."
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).
The Rays will host Senior Prom for Senior Citizens after Wednesday's series finale against the Royals in which seniors can relive their high school days.
Kansas City clinched the season series with Tampa Bay on Tuesday, improving to 4-1 in the matchup between the two clubs with a 1-0 win in 10 innings. It's the first season-series win for the Royals over the Rays since 2007.
Right-hander Alex Cobb will sign autographs on MacDill Air Force Base for troops at the Grow Financial Credit Union on Friday.
Catcher Jose Molina will head to a Sweetbay Supermarket in Tampa to shop with a fan, who has 20 minutes to acquire up to $1,000 worth of groceries.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.