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Rays Lose 3-1 Despite Shields's Strong Start

You can read the original version of this article, as well as in-game updates, at SBN Tampa.

The Rays mustered only 4 hits today, dropping the second game of the season to the Baltimore Orioles. James Shields pitched well today, pitching into the 8th inning and racking up 7 strikeouts while allowing only 2 walks and 4 hits.

Unfortunately, the Rays offense had no such luck today, collecting no extra base hits and leaving a combined 15 runners on base. Meanwhile, the Kelly Shoppach Experiment -- starting the right-handed catcher against a right-handed pitcher -- turned out rather well. Shoppach went 1 for 3 with a walk, all coming against right-handed pitching.

The Orioles offense was never overwhelming today, hitting a combined .186 with only 2 walks. Sadly, for the Rays, one of those hits proved to be a 3-run home run from Brian Roberts, which proved sufficient to beat the Rays offense.

Notes from the game:

  • Ben Zobrist almost tied the game with two outs in the ninth. He hit a powerful flyball, a foot short of a homer, but Nick Markakis robbed him of his rightful double in a spectacular and annoying feet of range and timing.
  • Evan Longoria left the game after his second at bat with an oblique strain. Marc Topkin is reporting Longoria expects to miss no more than a week, but manager Joe Maddon may still need to put him on the 15-day DL after they examine him further on Sunday.
  • Dan Johnson took some reps at third base in the final frame of the game. It is likely he and Sean Rodriguez will split time at third base in Longoria's absence.
  • The bullpen had one bad pitch tonight -- Jake McGee's 92 mph fastball that Brian Roberts gobbled up. Therefore, we can safely assume the ESPN gurus and SI prognosticators were right: The Rays rebuilt bullpen was rebuilt in the form of neatly stacked elephant turds. The season is over. The Red Sox have won everything already.
  • The Rays are now 2 games back from first place, and probably shopping the now injury-prone Evan Longoria, hoping to net some young prospects so that we start thinking about 2020.