Desmond Jennings got things started early this afternoon when he walked and scored the game's first run in the first inning. He'd also score the last run of the day when he sent a booming homer into the left field seats on the first pitch he saw in the tenth inning. This was Jennings' first walk-off and his ninth homer of the season. MVDeezy indeed.
Of course, Jennings' tenth inning heroics would not have been necessary if the Rays pen wouldn't have blown the lead in the eighth and ninth innings. But, first we start at the beginning:
David Price's career numbers against Texas are not pretty. Coming into the day, Price sported an ugly 6.26 ERA and an 0-3 record in five starts against the Lawmen from Arlington. This is not including the two losses in the 2010 ALDS either. Today, these Rangers' hitters did not put up big numbers against Price, but they did make him work through six innings on 107 pitches. Price generated just five swinging strikes, none of which came by way of the newfangled changeup that has been the key to his success the last few times out. Despite laboring through six innings, Price's line was pretty decent: 6IP, 2ER, 8H, 2BB, 5K. The first run came as a result of a mistimed jump by Desmond Jennings on a Mike Napoli laser beam and a Sean Rodriguez botched double play attempt. I understand that you never assume the double play, but this was a play any Rays' shortstop should make routinely. Price's second run was all on himself, though, as he allowed a solo homer on a shot down the line to Ian Kinsler. He'd been working Kinsler inside with the first two pitches and then just missed his spot and grooved one down the pipe that Kinsler didn't miss.
Scoring and bullpen explosions after the jump...
As was mentioned above, the Rays announced their presence with authority when they scored two runs in the first inning thanks to a Jennings walk, and doubles by Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. They would tack on another in the third thanks to some LOLfense by Ian Kinsler on a B.J. Upton infield squibber. It appeared Upton would have hustled out a hit either way, but Kinsler's errant throw allowed Kelly Shoppach to score easily from second. The fourth run came on a homer-off-the-fair-pole via Brandon Guyer who now has a home run in both his first and last career ABs.
Juan Cruz came in relief of Price in the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead and pitched adequately. A fly out and a walk later, J.P. Howell came in and worked a big K against Josh Hamilton and got Michael Young to ground out to end the inning. In the eight, however, Joel Peralta would give up a beast-shot to Mike Napoli to cut the Rays lead to one and, in the ninth, just when it looked like the Rays would pull out an easy W, Kyle Farnsworth gave up a game-tying homer to Ian Kinsler. His second of the game and 28th of the year, Kinsler's ball landed about three or four rows deep in the left-center field stands.
Farsy also allowed two more baserunners thanks to a wild pitch dropped-third-strike that rolled all the way to the Rangers' dugout and an infield single before escaping the inning.
But, somehow, Jake McGee would pitch a smooth tenth inning, and Desmond Jennings, not unlike Johnny Damon a few weeks ago, took the first pitch he saw into the stands to end the game. So, after all that, should it have been nessecary? No. Was it cool to see? Absolutely, yes.
- After his boneheaded error in the third, Ian Kinsler hit a sharp liner to left, but Desmond Jennings made a great sliding catch to rob him of a hit. I mean, how many times do you see a guy make a horrible error in the field then hit the ball hard the next half inning only to have ball caught on a great play? I know, right? And, how many times do you see a guy make a horrible error in the field then hit the ball hard the next half inning only to have ball caught on a great play and then go on and hit two solo-homers, the second of which ties the game and sends it into extra innings only to have that same fielder who made the great catch hit his own solo home run to win the game? Yeah.
- Kelly Shoppach threw out Elvis Andrus at second in the fifth inning. He also had Andrus dead to rights in the first, but Sean Rodriguez couldn't hang onto the ball and Elvis was safe with a stolen base.
- B.J. Upton had two infield hits on the day. The first was the Kinsler throwing error play mentioned above and the second was a even softer tapper down the third base line that Holland let go hoping it would roll foul. It did not.
- Despite giving up a homer to Ian Kinsler, Joel Peralta did something rather cool when he quick pitched David Murphy in the eighth inning. We've seen Peralta do this all season. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes even confusing the umpire, but I don't think I've seen the quick pitch take a hitter so off guard as this one did Murphy. Murphy didn't even have his bat up and ready to swing when the ball crossed the heart of the plate for strike three. He then walked to the dugout with a look that just screamed: "utterly perplexed."
- Off day tomorrow as the Rays have played something like 20 in a row. The Boston Red Sox come to town for a weekend series starting Friday. Wade "WD40" Davis goes against John Lackey @7:10 PM. Let's hope the Rays make the Red Sox hurler show his Lackeyface.
- Oh, and the Yankees blew one against the Orioles this afternoon. Even if the Rays are too far out for any #Magic, it's always nice when the Yankees lose.