Continued youth sets Major League record
Rays start 705th consecutive game with pitcher under age 30
OAKLAND -- James Shields delivered the Rays' first pitch of the game at approximately 7:17 p.m. PT -- a strike to Jemile Weeks. And just like that, Tampa Bay made Major League history by starting a pitcher under the age of 30 for the 705th consecutive time.
In the process, the Rays broke the record established by the 1913-17 Washington Senators, led by Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.
Jae Seo made the last start by a Tampa Bay pitcher of 30 years or older when he took the mound on his 30th birthday on May 24, 2007. Shields started the following day against the White Sox and took a no-decision in a 5-4 loss, and he was the culprit again in Wednesday's 13-4 defeat.
During the life of the streak, the Rays have used only 14 starters, the fewest in Major League Baseball over that same period. Entering Wednesday night's game, the Rays were 377-327 through those 704 games.
Shields has started the most games during the streak with 143. Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine rank second and third on the list with 94 and 80 games started, respectively.
Delaney called up to Rays, optioned after loss
OAKLAND -- The Rays optioned right-hander Jay Buente to Triple-A Durham on Wednesday and replaced him on the 25-man roster with fellow righty Rob Delaney, who was promoted from Durham.
Delaney came on in relief of James Shields in Wednesday's 13-4 loss to Oakland and hurled 66 pitches over three innings. He struck out one but yielded three runs on four hits and three walks, and was sent back down to Durham after the game as the Rays look for another bullpen arm.
"Rob sucking up those three for us is huge for us moving forward," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon. "If he was not here and not able to do that, we would have had to expend many of our bullpen guys in that kind of a loss, which would have really been not a good thing."
Buente, 27, who was selected off waivers from the Marlins on May 25, surrendered two runs on two hits and two walks vs. the A's on Tuesday in his Rays debut.
Maddon did not get the news that the Rays were sending Buente back to Durham until after Tuesday's 6-1 defeat, and the team had already arrived back at the hotel.
"I ran down Jay, sat down with him actually outside the lounge, and explained to him the whole thing," Maddon said. "Told him what I thought about the performance last night, what I saw. And he was very good. He was very gracious about the whole moment. He was not surprised or affected by it, which I appreciated. But I wanted to tell him that face-to-face, as opposed to a phone conversation, and I was able to."
"I know how that is, and how hard that is," said Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell. "Buente came up here from Durham to Miami to here and back. That's a stomach turner for him. But it's part of the game. We've all done that. I think one year I went up and down nine times.
"It's not a lot of fun, but it's a good opportunity each time you get called up. I'll go all the way from Florida to Seattle for a callup."
The 26-year-old Delaney was 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and two saves in 35 appearances with the Bulls, holding opposing hitters to a .206 average. He appeared in three games with the Rays in May, allowing three runs on no hits and four walks in two innings pitched.
Andy Sonnanstine worked as the team's long man throughout the first half of the season and rarely saw action. But lately the bullpen has been in a lurch, which has prompted quick callups -- several of which were short stints -- for Brandon Gomes, Alex Torres, Dane De La Rosa, Buente and Delaney.
"I think that Boston game [a 16-inning, 1-0 Rays loss on July 17] had a lot to do with it," Howell said. "We've been scrapping. That was a lot of innings to cover. Then we had the Yankees in town. The second-half hill got a little larger after we went 16 innings.
"That's just the business. It stinks for [the pitchers going on the shuttle system]. I don't ever want to go down, but it does help. Delaney's fresh. That helps, knowing we've got a guy who's fresh, and mentally, too. It's exciting for him and gives energy to us."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.