There's really nothing new to add about how the Rays are losing. The starting pitching is slumping. The offense is lackluster. And for the past few games, the defense has been iffy at certain points.
James Shields looked less ace-like for a second straight start. Big Game took his fourth loss of the season after allowing six runs (three earned) on 10 hits Saturday afternoon. He walked one and struck out four. If you're looking for a positive, he went seven innings, which saved the bullpen from another long game in the Texas heat.
Although the strikeouts were not as high as we've become accustomed to seeing, Shields did get 11% whiffs on the day. This includes six swings and misses on 30 change-ups. The most interesting piece of data about Shields' latest start comes in the form of velocity.
We've talked quite a bit about James Shields' increased velocity this season. Today, however, Shields was back at pre-2010 levels. He averaged just 89 miles per hour on his fastball, and topped out at 90.8. It could be the ballpark radar gun, or it could have just been an off-day for Shields. Nonetheless, we have something to watch next time out.
Offensively, well yeah. After showing signs of life in the past three games, the Rays' lineup was shut down by Tommy Hunter. The team collected just five total hits. The lone run came off the bat of Sean Rodriguez, who belted a solo home run in the second inning. John Jaso, and his stellar on-base skills, made his lead-off debut - promptly going 0-4.
The Rays remain two games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East. However, both the Red Sox and the Blue Jays are just 3.5 games behind. Who said interesting baseball can't be played in June?