So here's the thing.
Often, when I write a postgame recap, I like to split it up into 3 three-inning sections. I usually write the recap as I watch the game, because I overreact to things, and I want whatever I say to reflect my egregious overreaction to some bad call or Longo warning-track fly ball. Then I'll throw in some quip that I think is way more clever than it actually is, make some fake Maddon tweet I made in Microsoft Paint, and barf it up onto the internet. It's my strategy and I'm sticking to it.
But this game.
This game was probably the greatest pure pitcher's duel I've ever seen for this team. I remember a couple of years ago Shields faced off against Greinke and won 1-0, handing him a CG loss with the poor, poor Royals. Today's game was better than that. Because the fact of the matter is that the 2014 Rays got one-hit, reached base two times, and won. They won the game. That just doesn't happen. Off the top of my head I can remember it happening once in another, fairly well-known pitcher's duel but it's not, like, a common occurrence.
Alex Cobb, going 7 innings with not his best command but stick getting 6 strikeouts in this absurdly loaded Detroit Tigers lineup. David Price, working deep into the game, flashing all of the strikeout stuff we've come to expect from him. It was a treat to watch, in this slowly evaporating season. So today's game will be written in a style that it deserves: a focus on the stellar pitching performances by both staffs. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed I'm writing this one today, because it deserves a far better writer than me.
Rays Score Early
An early error ended up costing the Tigers a run. Zobrist reached on an E6 and rounded the bases when DRB Co-ROTY (looking at you, lizzieray) Brandon Guyer hit a triple to right-center. Of course, Longoria and Wil Myers struck out, stranding BG 90 feet away, but you pretty much knew that was coming. You know the drill around here.
Alex Cobb only allowed 2 hits in his seven innings of work, and rarely seemed like he was in trouble. After retiring the first 6 men in order he allowed a walk and a hit to put runners on first and second with no outs. With the speedy Rajai Davis up, a double play seemed unlikely, but Yunel Escobar, who was shaded up the middle, snagged a groundball that was close enough to the bag that he was able to step on it and throw Davis out at first for the seemingly-impossible double play. It wasn't necessarily a stellar defensive play, but it did highlight what you might call excellent instincts at shortstop. Although Forsythe was covered second, Escobar knew he wouldn't be able to turn two, so he took the extra three/four steps and fired a strike to first to complete it. It's an underrated play that was huge, as Cobb then got Kinsler to ground out.
Meanwhile, David Price settled in, on an absolutely absurd level. I had to look back at the stats to kind of confirm what I thought, but it's true: Price didn't allow a baserunner for seven innings. He was mixing in his wipeout slider with a mid-90's fastball and more or less baffling the Rays. This makes two consecutive days where the Rays got a hit in the first inning, and then more-or-less took naps in the dugout.
Seriously, my normal style does not apply. After the first, almost nothing happened for six innings. Seriously! Other than Cobb's tricky third inning, there was no offense of note to discuss. Cobb and Price were mano-a-mano, head-to-head, tete-a-tete; no batters reached after the top of the third until the seventh, where Cobb maneuvered his way out of trouble from the middle of the Detroit order. After allowing a leadoff double to Torii Hunter, Miggy pushed him to third with one out. Maddon decided to walk Victor Martinez (have you looked at his numbers lately? He's hitting better than Miguel Cabrera this year!) to get to J.D. Martinez. Both Martinez and Nick Castellanos struck out though, to end any threat. That'd be the end of Cobb's night.
After that, David Price threw a 1-2-3 inning. Boxberger entered in the eighth, and all he does is throw strikes, but sometimes he needs a little help from his friends. Runner on second, flyball to short right, in comes a diving Kevin Kiermaier to make an absurd catch you'll see again on SportsCenter tonight.
After that, David Price threw a 1-2-3 inning. McGee comes in for the ninth. I've been a little concerned about McGee as of late, what with his giving up of rather hard hit balls and somewhat diminished velocity. Well boy do I look silly, because McGee came in throwing heat. He gave up a hard-hit single to the wall off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, but got the next two batters to pop up on some 98 MPH heat to end the game. Rays somehow manage to win it 1-0.
Tomorrow the Rays travel to the Great White North to face off against Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays. If you still believe there's a light at the end of the tunnel now's the time to start sprinting towards it.