It's been over 200 days since the Rays won three in a row. 202 to be exact. Yes, there's that pesky offseason in the middle of that stretch, but the point remains the same, it's been too long.
Through 8.1 innings tonight, it looked like that stretch was going to get a bit longer. The Rays got a good start out of James Shields (7 IP, 2 ER), but were once again stifled by the opposing starter, tonight taking the form of Carl Pavano. Once again the offensive performance begs the question: Was the opposing starter that good or were the Rays hitters that bad? Like most everything in life, the answer probably lies somewhere in between. Opposing starters have been on their game against the Rays this season and the Rays been a bit unlucky, but the overall failure of the offense to capitalize on starter's mistakes is turning well executed starts into hall-of-fame-highlight-reel starts.
Shields threw well for six of his seven innings only running into trouble in the sixth. For most of the game, Shields was working down in the zone and complementing his fastball with his generally impressive change up. Even when he worked up in the zone he was able to make hitters chase. In the sixth, however, Shields left ball after ball well in the strike zone and surrendered a double, single, sac fly, ground rule double, intentional walk, and a single before Alexi Casilla lined out sharply to first and Denard Span popped out to third to end the inning. All in all, it was a good outing for Shields, and while he was a bit lucky to make it out of the sixth only allowing two runs, he came back and pitched a strong seventh inning to finish out his night.
Enough with the boring stuff already. Let's talk about Matt Joyce. After the jump...
Ulysses went semi-Fuld at the plate tonight collecting three hits in four at bats. Joyce was the only Ray that got solid wood on Pavano registering two of the teams four hits off the Twins starter. Of course, his most important hit of the night was a one-out two-RBI double off Twins closer Joe Nathan to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth.
However, the Rays could not keep the Twins for scoring for long, as they pushed across an unearned run (thanks in part to a Jaso passed ball) off Rays "closer" Kyle Farnsworth.
The Rays hitters decided that this would not stand and, in the bottom of the tenth, after the man, the myth, the legend, Sam Fuld snuck a Mr. Magoo groundball through the right side, Johnny Damon took Twins 'kinda-closer' Matt Capps deep to right and out of the park for a two-run walk off homer.
Let's put it this way. I love that this team found away to win last night. I love that Shields and the defense kept it close all night. I am still waiting for the bats to awaken on a consistent basis. But, to quote the Dali Lama:
A win is a win is a win.
- After the game, Johnny Damon received a pie in the face courtesy of BJ Upton. Always nice to see. What was a bit scary was watching Upton trip up the dugout stairs as he ran to pie Damon. With Evan Longoria on the DL and BJ being the closest thing to living-God Sam Fuld at the moment, the one thing we don't need Upton going down with a DL (pieFAIL).
- Twins catcher Joe Mauer was placed on the DL after the game with a case of "bilateral leg weakness." Not exactly sure what that is, but maybe while he's in Tampa he can ask Rocco Baldelli if he has any ideas.
- Almost looked like the 2011 PTBNL was going to start that losing curse all over again. Whew, you guys are good for next week now.
- Tomorrow's game is scheduled for 7:10 PM Eastern. Davis v. Blackburn. AKA Lumberjack v. Dirty Pirate.