The more traditional SBN Tampa Bay post-game thoughts are after the jump.
As some of you know, I was present at this evening's baseball contest. I sat a little bit back from the away dugout and shouted as many sabermetrically-slanted words of encouragement to the Rays hitters and pitchers as I could. But, in all honesty, after the White Sox score their first run off James Shields, I felt like the game was over.
I soldiered on, though, and was able to witness first hand the wonder of Dan Johnson -- Slayer of Circumstances, High-Priest of High-Leverage, and Ginger.
- First of all, I would like to thank the White Sox faithful for their dirty looks, foul comments, and absolute inhumane treatment of Kelly Shoppach (in which they booed vociferously at his being injured). A really classy bunch for whom I have no pity tonight.
- James Shields did not have great command. When you allow Alexei Ramirez and Mark Teahen to homer, you cannot claim control.
- Both Johnny Damon and Dan Johnson hit homers. I totally called the Damon homer. The Johnson homer, however, came on a first pitch after R.J. and I berated him for swinging at too many of those. Pumpkin, 1; R.J. and Brad, 0.
- Casey Kotchman came in to pinch hit for Sean Rodriguez. This blows my mind. Can anyone explain why there is ever a need for the phrase "Kotchman came in to pinch hit"?
- Not a great day for Cesar Ramos. I think we all hope and expect J.P. Howell will spell Ramos's end, but allowing a sub-par lefty like Teahen to single in such a close situation is a real bummer. Despite that, Joel Peralta, Adam Russell, and Kyle Farnsworth did a great job of brushing their shoulders off. Hatas gonna hate.
- Did anyone hear me? I was the only Rays fan brave enough to yell. I shouted such things as, "Pumpkin!" and, "Let's go B.J.!" and other such inside jokes and innuendos.
In the Rays first game without the now-retired Manny Ramirez, Tampa Bay found itself some late magic. After James Shields struggled with his command, going into the 7th inning, but allowing 5 runs and 3 homers, the Rays found themselves again climbing back from a deficit.
Though the Rays started the season 0-6, the pitching had never been particularly bad. Instead, the pitcher kept the games close, only to see the Rays score only 1 run in 5 out of those first 6 games. Though they scored only 8 runs all season, the Rays found a way to score 9 times tonight, picking up the struggling pitching.
John Danks did an admirable job stiffing the Rays offense early, but he ran into trouble in the 6th inning and could not find an out in the 7th inning, leaving with a total of 4 runs on his tab. The Rays were able to close the deficit to 5-4, but a rough outing from Cesar Ramos, in which he allowed a 2-run single to Mark Teahen, appeared to put the game out of reach for the struggling Rays.
Instead of finishing the top of the 9th quickly, however, Matt Thornton found himself out of luck as two consecutive errors from Alexei Ramirez (though Paul Konerko could equally be faulted for a bad scoop) and Jaun Pierre plated a Rays run and left two men on for Dan Johnson.
Johnson then proceeded to hit the first pitch into the right field bleachers and present the Rays with their first lead of the night.
In total, the Rays offense hit two home runs and a triple, scoring a season high 9 runs.