Rays Colored Glasses: An Amazing Comeback for First Win of the Year
Date: April 8, 2011
A: Chicago White Sox
W: Adam Russell (1-0) 3.86 ERA
L: Matt Thorton (0-1) 8.10 ERA
S: Kyle Farnsworth (1)
The Rays started this game like they have every other game this year–trailing. In fact, they were behind all night until the ninth inning. Then an amazing thing happened. Finally, the Rays were getting breaks that they had not been getting for the first almost seven games. Elliot Johnson got a soft single. Sam Fuld then reached on a throwing error by Ramirez. (This, by the way, was after Johnson moved up on defensive indifference. It is one of the first times I can remember that a runner taking that base had a huge impact on the game for Ramirez would have elected to go to second instead of making the difficult throw to first.) Damon floated a ball that Juan Pierre just dropped. Upton added a soft single. Dan Johnson provided the big blow with a homer to right that gave the Rays an improbable ninth inning 9-7 lead.
The White Sox started the game with a run in the first and kept adding on, building a 4-1 lead through five innings. This game seemed like it might be different though because the Rays finally were able to put some runs on the board.
In the sixth, Johnny Damon hit his first homer as a Ray, pounding a no-doubter into the right field bleachers. The Rays scored another run in that inning on a ball that traveled not further than 60 feet. Sean Rodriguez laid a beautiful bunt down the first base line that first baseman Paul Konerko elected to let roll and roll until it stopped right near the foul line. B.J. Upton scored to make it 4-3.
“Big Game” James Shields (and this certainly was a big game for the Rays), gave the Rays some innings, but not much quality (five runs allowed in six innings). Every time the Rays got close, the White Sox played keep away. Alexei Ramirez homered in the sixth to make it 5-3. The Rays again drew within a run in the seventh, but couldn’t tie the game, even though they had an excellent chance to do so.
The bottom of the seventh provided some real hope that the Rays were finally going to win a game. Shields was removed from the game with runners on first and third. Joel Peralta came into the game and uncorked a pitch that went to the backstop. The ball took a fortuitous bounce and catcher Kelly Shoppach grabbed the ball and tossed it to Peralta to get the out. He was then able to get out of the inning.
The game did seem lost though in the eighth when the White Sox added two more insurance runs to push the score to 7-4. And then, the Rays made their scintillating comeback. Kyle Farnsworth finished up the game with an uneventful ninth.
The Rays did set a record tonight, one that might never be broken. The Dan Johnson homer gave the Rays their first lead of the season after 62 innings. The old record was 60 set by the 1992 Detroit Tigers. I don’t care. The Rays are in the win column. A win has rarely felt so good.
Player of the Game: Dan Johnson. He may only be hitting .107 but he provided the biggest hit yet this year.