The moment Pena drops his bat when he knows it's gone is my favorite instant in all of baseball.
I have to admit, I didn't watch this game, nor did I listen to anything other than the bottom of the 9th. But even through Gameday, this was fantastic. After the 5th inning, I was ready to give up on baseball. When it was over, baseball was beautiful again. It was Good Friday and Easter all crammed into about one hour. That's more than I can hope for.
Shields didn't have very good command today. He walked three in 5 innings, and ran up his pitch count with one long at bat after the other. There was an at bat against Curtis Granderson in the first inning where he painted the outside corner with changeup after changeup, but Granderson fouled each one off. That was a bad start. After a while, he lost that ability to paint, and his stuff couldn't carry him.
Luckily, the offense bailed him out. Observations/questions after the jump.
- Evan Longoria hit a home run and got on base every time he came to bat (HR, two singles, two walks).
- In the bottom of the first, CC Sabathia had two men on with two outs and Sean Rodriguez up to bat. Girardi elected to walk Rodriguez to load the bases for Carlos Pena. Pena grabbed hold of an outside and up fastball and yanked it WAY over the right field fence (man that is a beautiful swing when he gets one; I'd almost forgotten). We know that Keppinger mashes lefties. That's why we got him. But this is an interesting decision. It all has to do with how you weight recent splits. If you look at Pena's whole career, where he's had a significant but not debilitating split, it makes no sense. If you weight his recent struggles against lefties heavily, it makes sense. There is no evidence that players lose their ability to hit same handed pitching before they lose their ability to hit all pitching. Still, it's an interesting question, and while the result of Girardi's decision was bad for they Yankees, whether or not his process was bad will be a very interesting question going forward.
- Our new, deep bullpen was tested. J.P. Howell, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Burke Badenhop, and Fernando Rodney all did well. Joel Peralta, less so. How did they look?
- I said in the offseason that Rodney would throw more changeups. He threw only one out of 16 pitches. Just highlighting the fact that I know nothing. Still, he was effective!
- In the fifth inning, the Rays were down by one with a man on third and first. Sean Rodriguez laid down a sac bunt, but the run did not score. What the hell happened? The first and third safety squeeze is in the Rays' wheelhouse.
- Later on, Jose Molina bunted with a man on third and two strikes. That's weird. Was the infield way back? Was this justifiable?
- In the 9th inning, with the game tied and Ben Zobrist on third (one out), Carlos Pena was once again up, this time against Mariano Rivera and his reverse splits. He took an awkward, reaching with a swing on a high, outside fastball. It looked like a bad swing. But it bounced off the wall in left-center field. That's power. That's a good approach. That's :)%. God I love life as a Rays fan.