Rays Defeat Marlins 5-1 Behind Home Runs for Rodriguez and Shoppach

It's games like these that gave way to the invention of advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP. If you just glance at the game you'd see that Wade Davis threw six innings and allowed just one run. Results wise, that's pretty good. Look deeper and you'll see Davis allowed eight base runners in those six innings, putting two men on base in three of those frames. He was able to escape danger -- he didn't allow a run in those instances -- but surely didn't look good doing it. The lone run he allowed was a solo home run to John Buck to the deepest part of the ballpark. 

It's been a maddening season for those of us who watch Davis. He isn't able to put guys away when he gets ahead in the count. There were at least two at bats last night that lasted 8+ pitches -- foul balls battering helpless fans every few seconds. The constant fouling off of pitches reminds me of watching Kazmir at the beginning of his decline. Of his 98 pitches, 65 were fastballs, but he did mix in 16 sliders which was nice to see. The Marlins only chased two of them, but Davis managed to register 75% of them for strikes. Until he finds a way to put away hitters, presumably by either pumping his fastball up to 94 mph or accurately locating his breaking pitches, he's going to run into the same issues and we as fans will continue nervously biting our nails as we watch.

As for the offense, Sean Rodriguez and Kelly Shoppach provided the thunder, each blasting home runs to left field. Rodriguez's homer couldn't of gotten more than 20 feet off the ground, just barely clearing the wall. Shoppach's, on the other hand, easily sailed over. I don't think Shoppach has ever been so sure of anything in his life, casually flipping the bat directly after contact. Watching Brad Hand pitch it wasn't hard to imagine two powerful right handed hitters were able to crush home runs. His fastball velocity averaged 89 mph. When you don't locate that well, bad things happen. Take a look at the location of the pitches to Rodriguez and Shoppach. 

Rodriguez:

Location

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Shoppach:

Location

via www.brooksbaseball.net

Rodriguez also added a two RBI "fan interference" double in the 8th inning that plated Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria. The ball was hit down the right field line and a fan, sitting by the bullpen, picked it up. I'm not quite sure what the official rule book says on plays like that, but the umpires allowed Longoria to score from first, prompting Marlin manager Edwin Rodriguez to argue and be ejected. 

 

  • I was impressed by Maddon's bullpen management tonight. Even though Davis had breezed through the 6th inning he pulled him in favor of Joel Peralta. Often times Maddon will let a pitcher start the following inning even if he had been laboring, but it was a perfect time for Davis to be pulled. Maddon also lifted J.P. Howell in the 8th inning with two outs and Mike Stanton at the plate. Kyle Farnsworth came in for the four out save and proceeded to get Stanton to pop out on four pitches. 
  • It's a very small sample, but Kelly Shoppach has hit well in June. The way he's been going this season I'll take any sign of progress I can get. I was especially happy with his two walks tonight.
  • Tomorrow's game could mark the last start in awhile for Alex Cobb. With Jeff Niemann set to come off the DL and start in Milwaukee Cobb seems likely to be sent down.  
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