A rough start to the game by starter James Shields put the Rays in an early deficit, one that proved too steep to climb out of. A night after Matt Garza turned in one of his worst performances of the season, Shields seemingly set out to do the same in the first inning.
Shields would throw 42 pitches in the first inning. After a Derek Jeter pop out, Nick Swisher continued his abuse of Rays pitching by crushing a home run to right field. Five of the next six batters reached safely, with only a Robinson Cano strikeout sandwiched in to stop the bleeding, if only for a moment. By the time the inning was over the Yankees had scored five runs and the game was out of hand. Thankfully Shields settled down considerably, working into the sixth inning while letting just three men reach base (though it should have been two, considering Posada was clearly never actually hit by that pitch). As has been the case for most of the season, Shields' fastball was not effective. He threw it 52 times and barely registered a strike percentage of above 60. Uncharacteristically, his changeup was also off, being thrown 28 times for just 16 strikes - two swinging. Shields used his curveball very effectively however, throwing it 20 times for 16 strikes. He didn't get hit particularly hard in the literal sense in the first inning, but it was enough to put the Rays behind. As he showed us last week in his victory over New York, Shields can pitch just fine against this team. Hopefully he gets to show it one more time in October.
As for the offense, they were inconsistant at best, failing to take advantage of a couple of ocassions where they could have gotten back into the game with a timely hit. After a good night on Monday, Ben Zobrist looked helpless last night. He constantly swung at the first pitch, even when Phil Hughes was walking everyone he could see. Matt Joyce launched his ninth home run of the season after barely missing one last night. Last night they put up six runs which is normally good enough for victory. Putting up three runs, on the other hand, is not.
- The bullpen performed pretty well. They would have only allowed one run had Robinson Cano not gotten the flukiest triple ever off of Chad Qualls that scored two.
- Jake McGee looked great again. It's safe to say his debut last week against the Yankees was an aberration and not an indication of how he'll fare this season. He looked extremely sharp for the second consecutive outing, retiring Granderson in the 7th. I have a feeling he's going to play a big role come October.