Rays Defeat Twins 5-2, Win Fourth In A Row

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 15: Catcher Kelly Shoppach #10 (right) of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his two run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the game at Tropicana Field on April 15, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

For the fourth game in a row the Rays got a solid outing by their starting pitcher, and for the fourth game in a row the Rays came away victorious. It helped that the offense had another good night as well.

Wade Davis threw seven excellent innings, and while he only struck out one batter, he mixed up his pitches enough to keep the Twins hitters off balance. The fastball was his most effective pitch, throwing it for 70% strikes on the night. His game plan was simple, keep the ball away to the Twins left handed hitters, and pound it inside to the righties. Check out the strike zone plot below


via www.brooksbaseball.net


The defense made some good plays in support - Sam Fuld and Sean Rodriguez in particular. The pitching matchup ended up being a reversal of fortunes, and some regression to the mean. Davis came into the game with a 4.38 ERA but 3.16 FIP. Nick Blackburn came in with a .077 ERA but 4.83 FIP. The Rays offense tagged Blackburn for 10 hits and five runs. All is right in the world.

I think the Rays have learned that scoring runs is far more enjoyable than not. Every player with three or more at bats reached base at least once, and the only one not picking up a hit was Sean Rodriguez. Sam Fuld once again did Sam Fuld Things, going 3-4, though he did get thrown out twice attempting to steal. Matt Joyce continued his hot hitting going 3-4, and B.J. Upton hit a run scoring double. The big hits were provided by Johnny Damon and Kelly Shoppach. Damon's two run single in the 6th inning put the Rays on top, and Kelly Shoppach's two run blast in the 7th inning put the game out of reach. Before the game, Tommy Rancel tweeted that he felt Shoppach would hit a mistake by Blackburn into the stands, and that's exactly what happened.

  • The usage of the bullpen in the 9th inning was funny to watch. With a 5-1 lead, Maddon used Cesar Ramos, Juan Cruz, Jake McGee and Kyle Farnsworth to record the final three outs. This tweet from Sky Kalkman sums it up nicely: "Rays used four pitchers in 9th inning of 5-2 game. Lefty, righty, lefty, righty. BB, Out, BB, FC w/ throwing error for run, Out. "Save."
  • Fact: The Rays are undefeated with Felipe Lopez batting cleanup
  • Double Fact: James Shields and Scott Baker will have a Highlander-esk battle before tomorrow night's game. There can be only one.
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