A little more than 12 hours after "epic fail," the Rays and Orioles picked up right where they left off. The Rays' offense spotted James Shields an early four-run lead - only to see him give it all back by the fourth inning. Evan Longoria got it started with a solo shot in the first inning to put the Rays on the board 1-0. The Rays would add two more in the second, and an additional run in the third, thanks to RBI from Reid Brignac, Ben Zobrist and Willy Aybar. Longoria would figure in the scoring again as his bases loaded walk in the sixth inning was the deciding factor in the game.
For those keeping score, Brignac, Zobrist, and Aybar were among the better run producers from this morning's post. On the other hand, Mr. GTMI, Jason Bartlett, humbled this writer by going 0-4 - stranding six runners in the process. Thanks, MVB.
Back to the game...
Shields was moving along through three innings before meeting his bend or break inning in the fourth. Unfortunately, he broke to the tune of three runs on a single, home run, double, and another single before getting the final two outs of the inning. He would give up the tying run in the next frame.
Overall, the Rays starter was largely average across the line giving up: eight hits, four runs, a walk, and a strikeout, over 6.1 innings. He threw 93 pitches including 55 fastballs, but only 13 change-ups. As Shields departed, the Rays held a 5-4 lead with a Baltimore runner on first and one out.
With the lefty duo of Nick Markakis and Luke "Please Take Me Tampa Bay" Scott due up, Randy Choate was called upon. Not wasting any time, Choate induced an inning-ending double play from Markakis - leaving the red-hot Scott on deck. From there Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano (thankfully) worked two scoreless frames to preserve the victory.
While the Rays could have swept the series, taking two out of three on any enemies turf is always a good thing. I'm amazed at the black cloud that hangs over this market in regards to a team that is 20 games over .500 on July 21st while playing in the American League East. It was not pretty, and the process was meh at best, but any win is a good win. On to Cleveland...