Jacoby Ellsbury Goes Deep, Rays Lose 3-1 To Red Sox

BOSTON - AUGUST 16: James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after giving up a three-run home run to Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox on the third inning at Fenway Park on August 16, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If I wasn't at today's game, I'd be afraid Sun Sports was airing a rerun. This game gave me a huge sense of deja vu; I could have sworn I'd watched this same type of game unfold countless times this season. The Rays get a solid pitching performance, but their offense is held in check and can't put together enough for a win. Rinse and repeat.

The Rays started off the game on a promising note, as Desmond Jennings ripped a double down the left field line, stole third, and scored on a ground-out by Evan Longoria. Red Sox starter Jon Lester took a bit of time to find his rhythm, and Ben Zobrist also ripped a first inning double deep to left-center. Sadly, though, the Rays stranded Zobrist at second and then didn't get another hit until Longoria looped a weak single in the sixth inning. Besides for one stray walk, those were the only baserunners the Rays had all game.

With the Rays' offense being baffled by Lester, James Shields pitched well but not quite well enough. He struggled with his command early in the game, leaving fastballs over the plate and changeups up in the zone. He allowed a bunch of hard-hit outs, including some deep flyballs in the early innings, and it seemed as though he was walking a dangerous line. He made Red Sox hitters swing and miss on his change and curve (4 whiffs each), but it took him a few innings to start placing pitches right where he wanted them.

But by the time Shields settled down, it was a bit too late. He allowed two singles in the top of the third inning, and then he hung a changeup to Jacoby Ellsbury and he quickly gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. And even though Shields shut them down from that point on, that was all the Red Sox needed.

Game Notes:

  • This was Shields' 9th complete game of the season. It's too bad that despite all his strong starts, Shields only has an 11-10 record. #deathtoWins #horriblerunsupport
  • Desmond Jenning and Ben Zobrist both hit the ball really hard in the first inning. Maybe it's the angle of my seat, but those balls both sounded like rockets.
  • Casey Kotchman is now 0-7 over his past seven plate appearances. If he falls short of the batting title, you can feel free to blame me.
  • The second game of tonight's doubleheader doesn't start until 7:10pm. The pitching match-up will be Jeff Niemann vs. Erik Bedard, so we'll see which pitcher's arm explodes first.
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