April 14, 2011
v. Minnesota Twins
W: Kyle Farnsworth (1-0) 1.80 ERA
L: Matt Capps (1-1) 3.86 ERA
For eight innings, this was a typical 2011 Rays game. Carl Pavano was rolling along, shutting out the Rays on four hits over eight innings. James Shields pitched very well as well, although not quite as efficiently. He allowed two runs, both in the sixth, over seven innings.
Fast forward to the ninth. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire brought in Joe Nathan even though Pavano was cruising and had thrown less than 100 pitches. Suddenly, the offense awakened. Felipe Lopez started the rally with a double. Ben Zobrist walked and on a 3-1 count, Joe Maddon sent the runners. Matt Joyce rewarded his manager’s gamble by doubling to right center, bringing home both runners and tying the game.
The game went into extra innings, the first such game the Rays have played this year. Matt Tolbert singled with two out and moved to second on a critical passed ball. Danny Valencia drove home the go ahead run run.
The Twins brought in their second experienced closer, Matt Capps. Undaunted, Sam Fuld (of course he did) started the rally with a single that sneaked past the second baseman. Johnny Damon, up next, hit a fly ball that just landed safely in the right field bleachers for a walk-off homer.
For eight innings, this game was incredibly frustrating. The Rays could not get anything started and even when they did, rallies ended with a whimper. For two innings, the game was glorious, with the Rays working great at bats and getting timely hits. Somehow, I wasn’t surprised when Joyce doubled, or Fuld singled and certainly not when Damon homered. Maybe I should have been. Their 4-8 record is unimpressive, but good things are about to come.
Players of the Game: Matt Joyce and Johnny Damon