You don’t get the nickname “Big Game” by accident. The Rays needed a win in the worst way after dropping three of four to the Detroit Tigers this week. James Shields took the ball and did not disappoint. He got some help from an awakened offense but clearly his pitching was the story.
Shields was solid all night, mixing in a nasty changeup with a well located fastball. His one hiccup came in the second when he gave up a solo home run to Brett Lawrie. He came back to strike out Lawrie the next two times he faced him. He finished the night going the distance, giving up the one run and allowing seven hits. Shields recorded 12 strikeouts, his second highest total this season.
All those stats about Evan Longoria’s struggles against Toronto in our series preview were real. I looked them up, they were fact. But sometimes you just can’t trust numbers. Thank goodness. Longoria looked like he owned the Jays tonight, hitting two solo home runs, including an absolute bomb to straightaway centerfield. Desmond Jennings continued his impressive play with a two run homer to get the Rays going in the third, after they had fallen behind 1-0. Is there any doubt right now that he is a major leaguer? In the seventh, John Jaso added a solo homer of his own and Matt Joyce scored on a wild pitch in the ninth to give the Rays the 6-1 victory.
It was an exciting win for the Rays after seeing the offense struggle against the Tigers. Scoring six runs feels really impressive. They only scored four runs total in the final three games of the Detroit series. What can easily be lost in the run total though is the fact that almost all the runs came off homers. That is not how you would expect the Rays to be able to score night in and night out. And of those home runs, all but one was a solo shot. Tampa Bay was hitless with runners in scoring position and only had three chances for the night.
But now is not the time to be picky, right? The Rays need wins, as many as they can get, however they can get them. For once, a win gains them some ground against both Boston and New York in the standings. The Yankees got hammered by Baltimore and the Red Sox fell at home to Oakland. Picking up a game against both the teams they’re chasing has been rare, especially of late. They just have to hope they can keep it going tomorrow.