What do you get when you combine the team leading the Majors in home runs with a pitcher who has struggled mightily with the long ball this season?
A lot of runs and one of the worst starts in team history.
James Shields tied a Major League record! Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut not in a good way. Shields joined seven other pitchers since 1900 to give up six home runs in a game. He lasted only four innings, giving up nine hits...all for extra bases. Here are some quotes from Shields was quoted after the game saying:
"Disgusting is pretty much what it was," Shields said. "There was nothing going right. I was out of rhythm, my timing was off, I didn’t hit any spots and they took advantage of it, obviously."
Take a look at Shields' pitch f/x chart. Notice a lot of light blue squares? Yeah, that's not good. Those stand for "in play, run(s)" and "in play, no out".
Shields' poor start allowed Dale Thayer to make his first, and likely only, appearance of the season. He was called up yesterday and will sent down sometime before Sunday's game to make room for Andy Sonnanstine. Thayer was purely in the game for mop up duty, but caught a little of the earned run illness Shields had, going two innings giving up seven hits and six runs. Chad Qualls and Randy Choate would each pitch an inning to close out the game.
Normally when the offense scores 11 runs the Rays win pretty handily. The offense has been fare more of an issue this season than the pitching. Today was just...different. The stars were B.J. Upton and Dan Johnson. Upton was 1-2 with a double, stolen base, and two runs knocked in. Continuing his good play since being called up last week, Johnson was 2-2 with two walks, a home run and four RBI. Hopefully he can keep it up the rest of the season.
On a worrisome note, Jeff Niemann was scratched from tomorrow's start with "shoulder soreness." Knowing the Rays and their secrecy when it comes to injuries there is no way to tell what that actually means. Hopefully the Big Nyquil isn't put to sleep the rest of the season. As I noted before, Andy Sonnanstine will be recalled from the DL and will start tomorrow in Niemann's place.
- Kudos to Toronto rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia. In his first big league game he went 3-4 with two home runs and a double. His first home run off of Shields was hit on the first pitch he saw. They're not all this easy, kid.
- Aaron Hill also hit two home runs.
- The Yankees win puts the Rays 1.5 games back, but also drops Boston back.