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Game Report 04/27/07; RAYS at Oakland

RAYS 4, Oakland 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DEVIL RAYS 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 7 1
Oakland 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0

Win Probability table courtesy of Fan Graphs.
Shields Shuts Down Oakland in 4-1 Win

Oakland-Jamie Shields entered Friday's game against the Athletics off of a start in which he gave up two runs over eight innings while striking out ten, yet still lost. He wouldn't suffer the same fate again. Shields pitched eight innings of one run baseball, dominating a weak Oakland offense with nine strikeouts, and the Rays spotted him an early lead that stuck as Tampa Bay went into Oakland and took down the A's by a 4-1 final.

Shields, who gave up just four hits and one walk in the outing, has struck out 21 batters over his last two starts. Though he wasn't able to tie the Rays' single game strikeout record, as he was last Sunday against Cleveland, he ensured something far more important to his team: a win. Especially in the house of horrors that has been the Oakland/Network Associates/McAfee Coliseum, where the Rays were 8-34 all-time coming into tonight's game, and had not won a series there at all until last year.

However the Rays' offense did their part to better those numbers, despite leaving large quanities of runners on base, and specifically in scoring position. The Rays left eight runners on base for the day, with six of those runners having been in scoring position. Nonetheless, the Rays got on the board early in the first when CF Elijah Dukes, batting leadoff in place of Rocco Baldelli, singled into left for a base hit. He later stole second and was doubled home by Carl Crawford early to give the Rays a 1-0 advantage. The A's threatened to tie, or even top the Rays' lead in the bottom of the inning when they advanced two runners into scoring position, but Shields was able to get A's 1B Dan Johnson to ground out to retire the side.

The Rays tacked on their second run of the ballgame in the top of the second, when B.J. Upton doubled home Carlos Peña, who reached base on back to back Chad Gaudin walks. The double gave the Rays a 2-0 lead, and was one of Upton's two hits on the day. He also walked. The two runners in scoring position were promptly stranded and Bobby Crosby touched Shields up for his only run of the ballgame when he sent a 1-2 pitch from the Rays' righty far over the left field wall to halve the Rays' lead to 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning. The blast was a towering fly ball; it needed to be to clear that tall left field fence in Oakland. It would be the only home run of the game, and the only extra base hit on the day for the Athletics.

Crawford walked to lead off the third inning, as did Delmon Young of all people two batters later. After a double steal moved each runner up a base, Crawford came home on a Peña RBI groundout to stretch the lead out to 3-1, and Young came home on a wild pitch later in the next at bat to put up the fifth and final run of the ballgame. Gaudin had his impressive start to the season snapped with a poor start against his former ballclub. He lasted just four innings of work, in which he surrendered all four Tampa Bay runs, three of them earned, on four hits and four walks. Lenny DiNardo mopped up for the A's and pitched a scoreless four innings of relief, and Jay Marshall pitched a scoreless ninth to keep the game from busting open.

Ultimately, however, Jamie Shields was just too much for the Oakland Athletics to handle. He managed to succeed in just about every facet you could want, getting groundball outs and strikeouts, before he left after 107 pitches. He earned his second win of the season, and lowered his ERA to 3.75 with the performance. Al Reyes allowed a lone walk while striking out two to close out the ballgame for his eighth save.

[editor's note, by Patrick L. Kennedy] I also just wanted to remind everyone before tomorrow's NFL Draft to head over to Buc 'Em, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blog on the SportsBlogs Network. Jerry is an occasional DRB commenter and a good guy, so we invite you to head on over there and dicuss the Bucs and their draft with him. Tampa Bay holds the No. 4 pick in the draft, so it should be an interesting and pivotal day for the future of the franchise. CALVIN JOHNSON OR BUST!!!! NO BRADY QUINN, SCREW YOU!!!!!!!

RAYS at Oakland
10:05; RAYS TV


RAYS RH Jamie Shields 28.0 4.50 9.00 1.93 4.67 9.00 .700 1.93 1.00 1.00 14.75
OAK RH Chad Gaudin 24.1 1.85 7.40 2.59 2.86 5.92 .569 0.74 0.95 1.65 14.92

RH Jamie Shields, DEVIL RAYS:

Overview-The Rays send Jamie Shields to the mound in Oakland for the first game between the two ballclubs this evening, and the team hopes Shields can help put their struggles in Anaheim past them. The Rays' 16th round pick in the 2000 draft, Shields made his major league debut last season and finished as the team's second best starter, compiling a 4.84 ERA over 21 starts while displaying the ability to shut down hitters and keep control of his stuff. That trend has continued so far this year, and in fact has shown improvement by leaps and bounds, despite the 4.50 ERA. He tied a Rays single game strikeout record by fanning 12 in his last start, at home Sunday against Cleveland, while walking just six batters all year. Still, he continues to be hit hard and has major problems with the long ball, despite his opponents hitting just .239 off of him on balls in play. This problem likely won't be exhausted as he faces Oakland's lineup, which owns the lowest team batting average and slugging percentage in all of baseball, as well as the third lowest OBP in the American League. Then again, Shields struggled in his only start all-time against Oakland last year, so anything is possible.

Recent Starts-Shields pitched a whale of a ballgame in his start last time out against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field. He ceded the Indians just two runs on two hits and one walk over eight innings of working, while striking out 12 batters, a distinction that tied him with Dan Wheeler for the franchise single game record. He had struggled somewhat in his two prior starts against the Orioles and Rangers, surrendering a combined 10 runs, nine earned, on five home runs and 14 hits over those two starts, but he didn't look particularly bad in either start and struck out eight against Texas. He made the start for the Rays in their home opener against Toronto, giving up three runs over 6.2 innings of work.

vs OAK-Shields has made just one start against Oakland in his career, and it was not pretty. As his season wound down towards the end of last year, Shields faced the A's on September 8th at Tropicana Field and was bombed, giving up six runs over 3.2 innings of work. It is possible that he was a victim of circumstance; the A's came into St. Petersburg hot as they geared up for an AL West title run, while Shields was tiring at the end of a season in which he saw a large leap in innings pitched from prior years. His start against Oakland was one in his string of three as the year concluded in which he gave up at least four earned runs. With the Athletics' offense struggling mightily and him pitching exceptionally well right now, circumstance could be tossed out the window.

RH Chad Gaudin, Oakland:

Overview-Former Ray Chad Gaudin takes to the hill for Oakland in the midst of a scorching April as he makes his first start against his former ballclub. Gaudin was a 34th round pick of the Rays in 2001, and ascended to the major leagues from A- Charleston just one season after his 2003 debut. He posted dominant numbers at every stop along the minor league ladder, and pitched to a 3.60 ERA in 40 innings of work with the ballclub in late '03; he was just 20 years old in his debut season. Gaudin pitched intermittently between AAA Durham and the major league squad the following year, struggling a bit in Triple A, but he still managed to post a 4.85 ERA with the major league team in over 42 innings of work that season. However despite his age and performance, Gaudin was dealt that offseason by former Rays GM Chuck LaMar to Toronto for C Kevin Cash. Although raised mostly as a starter in the Tampa Bay system, he got his first extended tour of duty as a starter at a high level when he made 23 starts for AAA Syracuse in 2005. He struggled in a brief major league call-up before being dealt to Oakland that offseason. Gaudin pitched mostly as a reliever with the major league A's in his first real season in the major leagues. He pitched in 55 games over the course of the season in posting a 3.09 ERA, though incidentally he walked more batters than he struck out, the antithesis of the "Moneyball" pitcher. Gaudin started this season in the Oakland rotation to outstanding results, and has a 1.85 ERA over four starts. While he has pitched well in his own right, regaining his control that lost him last year, he has shown abnormally low hit rates this year as well as a groundball to flyball ratio completely out of line with his career norms. In addition, hitters are batting a paltry .224 off of him on balls in play. While these trends certainly will even out to more realistic totals over the course of the season, the question is how long he can keep this unlikely string of success up, and whether the Rays can be the first team to burst his bubble.

Recent Starts-Gaudin has given up just one or two runs in every start this season, although he has pitched over six innings in just one outing. His exposure has come in mostly intra-divisional games, two starts against Anaheim and one against Texas. After surrendering two home runs to the Angels in his first start, he has surrendered none since, and that first start remains the only one in which he has given up more than one run or four hits. Last time out against the Rangers in Arlington, Gaudin surrendered one run on four hits over six innings, walking two while fanning seven.

vs RAYS-Though the Rays were Gaudin's original team and remain his longest tenured major league employer, Gaudin's only experience facing his former team was in a 0.2 inning relief stint last year in which he gave up a run. And despite the fact that a lot of the players on the present Rays roster were teammates with Gaudin at one point or another, no batter has more than an at bat of experience against him.


CF Elijah Dukes
SS Brendan Harris
LF Carl Crawford
3B Ty Wigginton
RF Delmon Young
1B Carlos Peña
C Dioner Navarro
DH Jonny Gomes
2B B.J. Upton
LF Shannon Stewart
2B Mark Ellis
3B Eric Chavez
DH Mike Piazza
1B Dan Johnson
SS Bobby Crosby
RF Travis Buck
C Jason Kendall
CF Danny Putnam

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!