Was it just two games ago that the Rays were perfecto'd by Felix Hernandez? Whether that embarrassment is on their minds or long forgotten, they've come out Strokin' like Clarence Carter in these first two games against the Angels.
The Rays set a new season high with 17 hits off Angels pitching tonight. Eight of those hits, along with two walks were off of starter Jered Weaver. Coming into the night, Weaver sported the best ERA in the AL at 2.22, but after allowing nine earned runs in three-plus innings, he relinquished the lead to a guy you might have heard of: David Price (2.39). What happened to Weaver tonight was a train wreck; A collision of Nickelodeon Gak and Strawberry Shortcake (the food, you sickos). A.K.A. it was both infectiously fun AND delicious.
There were some early signs of Weaver's hittability. B.J. Upton homered on a laser-shot to left in the first inning, and Ben Zobrist homered in the second in almost the exact same spot as Thursday night. Those early homers were nice, but the real show started in the fourth inning.
Since I'd develop carpal tunnel if I transcribed the whole inning, I'm just going to copy/paste from the game log:
Just read that play-by-play for a second: eight hitters reached base before an out was recorded. The most interesting part of the inning was when Weaver began to visibly lose it on the mound. The wild pitch mentioned above was a curveball that went behind Jeff Keppinger and nicked off catcher Chris Iannetta's glove. Weaver was none too pleased with the outcome and had some words with his battery-mate. As you can see, he wouldn't regroup. Kepp walked on three more pitches that were nowhere close, then SRod laced a 'tweener in front of Mark Trumbo, Ryan Roberts popped one into no man's land down the right field line, Molina slapped one up the middle, and Jennings worked back from 0-2 to bounce a double off the right field wall.
That yanked Weaver who was none too pleased. Also not pleased were his fantasy owners who had to eat his line of 3+IP, 9ER, 8H, 2BB. Especially the owner who played me in my H2H keeper league and had to deal with my counter-play of Zobrist, Longo, Jennings, and James Shields.
There was something up tonight with James Shields. That "up" could have been his velocity as, according to Pitch FX, his fastball was touching 96, and his change 88. Then again, the "up" could have just been the radar gun. The "up" was also in a few of Juego G's pitches as he allowed three runs via two homers off some d-hole fastballs to Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick. It wasn't Shields' best outing in his recent surge, but he ended with a respectable Quality Start (once again to the chagrin of my fantasy baseball opponent): 6IP, 3ER, 7H, 0BB and 8K on 101 pitches (13 swinging strikes). He worked less than 50% fastballs (just over 50% if you include the cutter) and dropped 31 changes on the Halos.
So, no, this wasn't a dominant Shields start, but, then again, he was facing a potent Angels lineup, not the Twins, A's, or Bautista-less Blue Jays. It's nice being a Rays fan when a six-inning Quality Start is just a "meh."
- B.J. Upton is streaking like Will Farrell in Old School. The Junior Bossman was 4-for-5 with the aforementioned first-inning homer. He finished a triple off the cycle.
- He did make a bit of a puzzling play in the bottom of the first on a Mike Trout towering fly ball. Upton seemed to have a bead on the ball, but then apparently misjudged it at the last minute and was forced to reach for it with his bare hand. He missed and the ball bounded off the wall and Trout walked into third for a lead off triple.
- It looked grim for Shields, but he caught a bit of luck when Torii Hunter laced a ball down the third base line that Sean Rodriguez made a diving catch on and tagged the bag to double off Trout in the same motion. That was Hunter's only out all night, and it might have been the hardest hit.
- The ball was flying out to all fields tonight. I mentioned Erick Aybar had a well-struck homer and Howie Kendrick's was blasted. The real evidence that something was rotten in Anaheim was when Jose Molina launched a homer off the rocks in center in the eighth inning and Sam Fuld hit a lolfense-aided triple off the warning track in the ninth. Neither ball looked exceptionally well hit, but Molina's ended up well over the fence, and Fuld's was close.
- Aybar's homer ended the Angels' scoreless streak against the Rays at 34 innings.
- Burke Badenhop, Wade Davis, and J.P. Howell closed out the game tonight. Badenhop allowed two hits, but coaxed a GIDP out of Trout. Howell pitched a perfect inning and pushed his club-record scoreless innings streak to 23.2. Nice to have a chilly breeze on a hot night in Anaheim.
- The Tigers beat the Orioles so the Rays move into second in the A.L. East, six games back of the Yankees (who beat the Sawks tonight), and gives them a one game lead in the wild card race.
- Tomorrow, Alex Cobb takes on C.J. Wilson as the Rays hope to handle another L.A. "Ace." Game starts @ 9:05 PM.