April 26, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Brandon Allen (19) reacts after he hit the game winning 2-run home run to beat the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth inning at Tropicana Field. The Rays won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
On a day that the Sun Sports broadcast devoted to announcer Brian Anderson's 40th birthday, the real superstar was a different BA, all together. The real superstar was a different BA.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, Brandon Allen was called on to pinch-hit in a key situation, and, for the second time, delivered a positive, game-winning, true-outcome event.
If last night's RBI walk gave us a glimpse of Allen's patience, today's game-winning two-run bomb gave us a taste of his power. With B.J. Upton on first and a 2-2 count, Allen sent a 97.3 MPH Jordan Walden fastball screaming into the right-centerfield stands. For your consideration:
I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, or a Crabby Cathy, but Allen's heroics would not have been needed if the Rays offense could have mustered more than two runs against Angels' starter Jerome Williams. After a walk to Desmond Jennings and a Ben Zobrist RBI double to start the game, the former Lancaster Barnstormer would hold the Rays scoreless until another RBI extra-base-hit, this time a triple off the bat of Matt Joyce, in the sixth.
But, I guess the only reason the Rays needed more than one run to win is because starter Matt Moore couldn't be perfect today. Moore came out the gate spitting hot fire,pumping 96-97 MPH fastballs right by the Angels' hitters. He threw 100 pitches over 5.2 innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out six and induced twelve swinging strikes (eight on the fastball, four on the change). He didn't allow a hit until Mark Trumbo murdered a low, inner-half fastball into the leftfield stands for the Angels' first run.
As fans, we wish the Rays would score early and often, and the pitching staff would never allow a run. But if that were the case, we would miss out on games like today's, where a waiver-wire pickup, in his first at-bat as a Ray, hits a game-winning walk-off homer against a powerful closer. Gotta love that day-game drama.
Bullets after the jump...
- In the first inning, after doubling-in Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist was picked off second base. It was a pretty boneheaded move to get caught there and it killed any possibility of the Rays tacking on some more runs that inning. Funny thing was, Zobrist was safe. Erick Aybar missed the tag as Zobrist pulled his hand back before reaching the bag safely. The umpire neglected to recognize Zobrist's quick hands and called him out.
- Sean Rodriguez had a nice AB against the righty in the bottom of the fifth. He got down 0-2, but worked the count back full and then smacked a sharp grounder up the middle for a single. He would lose a little bit of those good feelings, however, when he was doubled up on a 'slow two' to end the inning as he rounded third a bit too wide after the Angels made a force out at second and caught him in a rundown.
- Albert Pujols broke his slump with a shift-avoiding single to center in the sixth. He then tried to take advantage of BJ Upton's casual fielding and break for second, but BJ fired to Sean Rodriguez to tag the slugger out. There's been so much focus on Pujols getting into slumps the last few years, and what it always seems to be is the guy is trying to do too much. Kudos to the Rays pitchers for not allowing him to break out this series.
- Umpire Tim Timmons zone seemed to widen throughout the day, especially to right-handed (Rays) hitters. He even started making calls on a few borderline check-swings and not deferring to his first-base counterpart. This is his zone on the day:
- Also, here's the link to all his charts on the day. He did call strikes on balls out of the zone, but some where in the "typical" zones for LH and RH batters.
- Burke Badenhop, Joel Peralta, and Brandon Gomes combined 3.1 innings of scoreless relief (Badenhop allowed Moore's run to score in the sixth). Gomes picked up the win with his perfect inning.
- Tomorrow the Rays head to Arlington to face the red-hot Rangers.James Shields takes the bump against Matt Harrison in hopes of keeping this winning streak allive. Game starts @ 8:05.