This man stole a base, making the Rays ineligible for the postseason. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
This type of game brings out the inner Sternfan (paraphrased above) in all of us. Given how tortured and stormy my mind is right now, I can't imagine what it's like to actually be Sternfan at a time like this.
It started out innocently enough. In the top of the first, Carlos Pena doubled to continue his torrid start, although the Rays didn't score. Then, David Price worked a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez. Then in the second, Zobrist singled and Keppinger doubled him home. In the bottom of the inning Price got into trouble with a single to Kevin Youkilis and a walk of David Ortiz. But he did what an ace does, and struck out the next two batters, and then got out of the inning with a soft grounder. If baseball games were only two innings, this would have been a resounding success.
Sadness below the jump.
In the third inning, it all fell apart. Price hit Kelly Shoppach to start the inning. Ellsbury doubled, Pedroia walked, Gonzalez singled, Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly, Ortiz singled, and McDonald walked. By the time Cody Ross ground into a double play, Price had thrown 83 pitches. Although only three runs had scored, Maddon decided that he had seen enough and turned to the bullpen.
Price's final line? 3 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. He threw 65 fastballs with a 6% swinging strike rate. Nine changeups with one swinging strike, four curveballs (no swinging strikes), and four cutters (no swinging strikes).
Wade Davis did his job, going three innings with no runs, no walks, and striking out three. Badenhop wasn't terrible. But once the game was handed over to Joel Peralta (and Josh Lueke after him) in the eighth, this is what happened:
Two hits, two walks, no outs for Peralta. Six hits, one walk, three outs for Lueke.
Maybe Lueke will be a bust, and I'm okay with that, but I am really worried about Peralta. He's talked about how not playing winter ball this offseason has hurt him early on, so hopefully he'll be able to regain his form from the past two years, but right now he just doesn't look right. Our bullpen, filled with a bunch of decent-potential questionmarks looks a lot less enticing without Farnsworth and Peralta providing steady, high-leverage relief.
Zobrist hit a home run in the 9th, but it was called back after video replay, because Kelly Shoppach had previously stolen a base.
Unfortunately, I have a job and didn't get to watch the implosion live. What's wrong with Peralta?