After facing Josh Johnson and Mat Latos in consecutive games, the Rays offense had a chance to get something going against Kevin Correia tonight. Correia isn't a bad pitcher, but he entered this game with a 4.52 FIP - which is slightly below average. On the other hand, his xFIP of 4.08 shows he's probably a bit better, but again, he's a pretty average pitcher.
Naturally, Correia had a no-hitter going tonight through 4.2 innings. The Rays had six baserunners before their first hit, but could not cash in on any of their early opportunities. B.J. Upton broke up the no-no with a base hit in the fifth inning. Upton stole second and continued to third on an error, but would be stranded.
The Rays did get to Correia for two runs in the sixth inning including another hit by Upton. This time the Rays' centerfield laced an RBI double into the left centerfield gap to plate Carlos Pena. Upton spent time talking to first base coach George Hendrick after Tuesday's game, and took extra batting practice before Wednesday's game under the watch of Hendrick. So far the results have been good, but I think we've all learned our lesson with believing Upton has turned a corner. We'll take what we can get and hope for the best. Upton would swipe third base on the next pitch and score on a sac-fly by Willy Aybar. One batter later, Sean Rodriguez hit a solo home run beyond the centerfield wall to tie the game at three a piece.
Unfortunately, three runs would not cut it on this evening. James Shields pitched well for the most part, but made two crucial mistakes to Will Venable and Adrian Gonzalez. Venable crushed a two-run homer in the fifth inning while Gonzalez added a solo shot to centerfield of his own. After seeing his offense tie the game in the sixth, Shields allowed the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on a single, balk, and another two-out single.
James ended the evening with seven strikeouts in seven innings. He allowed the four runs on six hits and just one walk. He would throw 96 pitches - 63 for strikes including 12 swinging strikes. Instead of his change-up (thrown 15 times), he went to the breaking ball as a secondary offering. He threw a combined 31 curveballs and sliders with 21 falling for strikes. Once more, it was good, but just not good enough tonight.
The Rays would put a man in scoring position in the seventh inning against Luke Gregerson, however, Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena would whiff on four of the next nine pitches, leaving John Jaso standing in scoring position.
Tampa Bay has dropped three games in a row and four of the last five. Something's gotta give.