OK it may have only been game 6 of this young season but it as a big game. No one wants to be swept at anytime during the course of a season. The beginning of the season can set the tone for the duration. That being said, “Big Game James” came through. James Shields took to the mound for the Rays in an effort to stop an early season skid. He did that and earned himself his first ‘W’ of 2009. Shieldsy went 7 VERY strong complete innings scattering only 3 hits and 1 free pass while striking out 3. He was the Shields we remember from 2008 plus some!
The offense erupted as well with 17 hits, 9 for extra bases! There were doubles (4), triples (1) and home runs (4). Home runs are always awesome but the home run of note is Evan Longoria as this is his 5th HR in 6 games! Jason Bartlett, Carols Pena and Ben Zobrist are the other Rays who went yard. The Rays were active on the base path as well swiping 3 bags. Love to see these guys moving and taking what’s theirs!
No need to even state the obvious and say that this game’s performance was clearly 100 times better by all involved than the previous 2 nights but, now that I have, the Rays seem to still be having an issue with strike outs. They gave up 11 easy outs via the K in today’s game and only accepted 3 free passes. They really need to clean this part of the game up as this AL East is looking even tougher in 2009 with the ever present Yankees and Red Sox and the obvious improvements to both Toronto and Baltimore.
The bullpen pitched the last 2 innings of the game and all looked good except Grant Balfour. Grant had all sorts of location issues and allowed the 3 runs in the 9th. He was taken out in the 9th after loading the bases and not recording an out. JP Howell came in and stopped the bleeding to end the game.
The Rays will now head back to The Trop for their home opener and the raising of the AL Pennant! How exciting is that! I may leave now to get there!!
See you in The Pit!