ST. PETERSBURG - JUNE 16: Infielder Carlos Pena #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays scores the tying run against the Miami Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
*Yawn* *Stretches arms* Oh, hi there. I guess we need to put up a recap for those of you still awake, eh?
The Rays didn't allow a run for 12 straight innings. Usually you're going to win if that happens. Not tonight. It's a tall order to ask your bullpen to work 7+ innings. Aside from two pitches to Justin Ruggiano and Scott Cousins, the pen was pretty damn good. Jake McGee and Wade Davis continued to be extremely filthy, working a combined two innings and striking out four. Davis seemed specially pumped up, averaging nearly 95mph on his fastball which is 3mph higher than his season average. As good as the pen was, leaning too heavily on it will generally cost you, and that's what happened to the Rays tonight.
It happend so long ago that you may have forgotten it, but James Shields had an excellent outing. One-upping his performance against Miami last week, he didn't allow an earned run in his 7.2 innings of work, but was on the hook for the loss until the Rays tied it in the seventh. The three runs the Marlins scored were unearned, one coming in the first on an errant throw by Sean Rodriguez and two coming in the second after Matt Joyce just plain dropped a line drive. As he's been wont to do this year, Shields induced more groundballs than fly balls, 12 to 11. He located his fastball, cutter and changeup especially well, registering over a 70 percent strike rate on each pitch.
The Rays got offensive production from expected sources. The 6-9 hitters were a combined 6-15 with two triples, a home run and three RBI through nine innings. The game tying triple by Rodriguez was impressive and fluky at the same time. It came off Steve Cishek, who entered the game with a 3.00 FIP and .132 average allowed against right handed batters. It's more impressive/fluky when you see Rodriguez has a .606 OPS and .260 wOBA against northpaws. Considering the length of the game, the Rays offense didn't have many other opportunities to drive in runners. Rodriguez was stranded at third after his triple, B.J. Upton grounded into a double play with runners on first and second in the 10th and Drew Sutton flew out to left with two on in the 13th. The 1-5 hitters went 2-30. I don't care what team you are, you're not likely to win when that happens.
I don't want to pick on Elliott Johnson too hard (again) since Rodriguez and Joyce made errors on routine plays as well, but his fielding has been especially poor of late. As Tommy Rancel pointed out on Twitter, 26% of the Rays errors have come from Johnson at short (8) and Rodriguez at third (6). That's two guys playing in positions they shouldn't be thanks to Longoria's injury. He started his rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham tonight. Get well soon, Longo.