Even though the Twins beat the Rays 7-0 on the fourth of July, I felt that Tampa Bay could have easily won that game had they come through with a few of their chances early in the game. Tonight’s game was certainly another winnable game.
James Shields wasn’t his best out there tonight as he struggled to get through six innings, but he kept the Rays in the game. He allowed a run in the first and then another two in the third although they were not entirely his fault. Matthew Joyce completely overran a ball that allowed an extra run to score.
That extra run would prove to be costly.
The Rays couldn’t do anything but score an unearned run against Scott Baker. He left after five with an injury. Against the Twins’ bullpen, the Rays left a runner on second in each of the seventh and the eighth. Convert one of those chances and this game goes to the Rays.
In the ninth, Matt Caps came on for the save. The Rays have beaten both Capps and their longtime closer Joe Nathan earlier this year. Capps seemed to have that still on his mind as he slowly imploded. With a 3-1 lead, he allowed a leadoff homer to B.J. Upton. Casey Kotchman followed with a single. Sean Rodriguez appeared to have taken a walk, but a last-second called strike extended his at bat. He eventually made a loud out as did Sam Fuld. Kelly Shoppach worked a walk and that was it for Capps. The lefty Glen Perkins came in to face Johnny Damon who hit a slow bouncer to the hole at short. Tsuyoshi Nishioka picked it up and threw Damon out a first by an eyelash. Initially I thought he was safe. Damon obviously thought so too. He didn’t even argue the call, but his look of stunned disbelief belied his real feelings.
The Rays were that close to a victory tonight.
Player of the Game: Ben Zobrist who continued to torment the Twins with three hits tonight. He was on deck when Damon was thrown out at first.
W: Scott Baker (7-5) 3.01 ERA
L: James Shields (8-6) 2.47 ERA
S: Glen Perkins (2) 1.78 ERA