Rays’ surge continues, grab a bit of history in the process

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With a 5-0 shutout win over the Yankees tonight, the Rays at long last returned to .500 at 61-61. As the Rays’ Twitter notes, they have become the fourth team in baseball history to reach .500 after falling at least 18 games below .500, joining the 1899 Louisville Colonels, the 2004 Devil Rays, and the 2006 Marlins.

The Rays fell 18 games below .500 on June 10 following a loss to the Cardinals. Since then, the Rays have won 37 of 56 games — a .661 winning percentage. They have fallen as far back as 15 games in the division, but are now nine games back after the Orioles lost to the Indians in 11 innings.

Their surge is interesting considering they traded away someone who very well might have been their most crucial piece to a playoff run in David Price. The Rays sent Price to the Tigers as part of a three-team trade that also involved the Mariners at the trade deadline. In return for Price, the Rays got lefty pitcher Drew Smyly, infielder Nick Franklin, and minor league infielder Willy Adames.

Report: Yankees J.A. Happ, closing in on a three-year deal

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UPDATE: Rosenthal is now walking the report back a bit, saying that indications that the Yankees and Happ are close to a deal but that it is not yet done.

10:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees and J.A. Happ have come to terms on a three-year deal. The agreement is pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known.

Happ just turned 36, but he has been effective enough to warrant a three-year commitment. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, having acquired him last year and watched him post a 7-0 record and a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts in New York. For the entire season he was 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 193/51 in 177.2 innings between the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

With Happ back in the fold, the Yankees rotation now consists of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, not necessarily in that order. A good group, assuming it stays healthy.