Well that was fun. It’s always nice to start the season off 1-0, even if it doesn’t guarantee anything. Obviously the most encouraging aspects were the Rays battling the conditions to defeat an inferior team in a dismissive fashion. Let’s glance over some points I’d like to cover on the off day.
I'll hand it to James Shields. He didn't look great yesterday, but he persevered some iffy control and an ambiguous strike zone to finish the game with seven strong innings despite a 2:3 strikeout to walk ratio. I'm sure his performances will pick up, however, I can't be the only one encouraged that we're actually talking down a 7 IP, 2 ER, 89 pitch outing. In some regard this was an original Shields performance (although the line scores are usually prettier) and Shields showed what makes him so valuable. His maturity level is unmatched on the staff, and his adaptations as the games progress shows he's able to change on the fly based on variables out of his control.
Joe Maddon made two moves that caused my eyebrows to rise. First attempting a double steal with Dioner Navarro and Jason Bartlett and then bringing in Trever Miller only to face righties. Neither should be executed again this season as far as I’m concerned.
For all of the talk about how poor the bottom of the order could be I was impressed with the patience exhibited by Cliff Floyd, Willy Aybar, and Eric Hinske. For a day at least it felt like the Rays had a legitimate offense. It’s far too early to dictate the three acquisitions as successful, but so far so good.
Finally I’d like to thank you, the readers, for making opening day on DRB a resounding success. Let’s keep this going tomorrow night with Matt Garza debuting.