Ok, since nobody's hand is up, lets continue.
Many people were nervous about Wade Davis starting the first game of this two game set with New York. Some even wanted the Rays to skip his turn in the rotation so it would be James Shields and Matt Garza facing the Yankees. That wouldn't be necessary. Davis did not pitch like a rookie in Yankee Stadium, facing the best offense in the game. Instead, he pitched like he had been there before, going 5.2IP while allowing 2ER and striking out 7. He did walk three batters, which remains the area he needs to work the most on. However, striking out seven batters will help to ease any pain those walks inflict.
If an outing like this were made by any of the other four starters on the team we probably wouldn't look at it in such a positive light. But, Wade Davis is the team's fifth starter and the rules for evaluation are a bit different. Before the game I tweeted out a question; Would you be happy with 6IP and 4ER tonight for Davis? My answer was yes. He far exceeded any expectation I had for him going into the game.
The most effective pitch on the night for Davis was his slider. He only threw it eight times, but generated three swinging strikes, including one in the third inning that made Derek Jeter look like a toddler flailing at pitches in his back yard:
It's no surprise that Davis got such a high percentage of whiffs on his slider. Coming into tonight's game Davis had thrown 75 sliders on the season, resulting in a swinging strike percentage of 10.7%. That's a fantastic number, especially when you see that his next highest total is 5.0% on his 4-seam fastball.
A bigger surprise than the success of Wade Davis was the way the Rays offense treated A.J. Burnett. He had pitched quite well against the Rays over the past few seasons, so lighting him up was not something that was expected. The Rays scored on him in a variety of ways, including driving in a run in the third inning while not recording a hit. Reid Brignac lead off with a walk, Jason Bartlett sacrificed him over to second, Carl Crawford was hit by a pitch, Ben Zobrist walked, and Evan Longoria hit a sac fly. Not conventional, but I'll take it.
-Ben Zobrist continued his "I should bat lead-off" campaign by reaching base four times. Yes, I know Barlett hit a home run off of right handed pitching, but Zobrist is still the better choice.
-The Rays power and speed showed up tonight. They only hit one home run, but added four doubles and had a few hard hit balls that ended up going right to Yankee defenders. The team also stole six bases tonight. There's obviously not much respect for the ability of Burnett/Cervelli to hold runners on.
-Carlos Pena didn't have a hit tonight, but he did drive in a run in a peculiar way. The play goes down in the books as a sac fly, but its actually one of the most unusual plays you'll see. Pena crushed a ball to deep center that Brett Gardner somehow managed to catch by diving toward the fence. His momentum took him to the ground, which enabled Ben Zobrist to tag up and score from second base.
-Adding to the list of things you don't see very often, Marcus Thames hit a single but rolled his ankle on his way to first base. How did he do that, you ask? He stepped on his own bat, which had made its way into the basepath after he threw it off to the side. He had to be removed from the game. Strange.
-Maybe it's not a good idea to pitch Andy Sonnanstine three nights in a row. Just a thought.
Games up on NYY: 4