Cardinals Take the Opener 5-3 as Tempers Flare
Baseball is often a game of adjustments. It’s a cliche, I know, but it certainly applied to tonight’s game against the Cardinals. Both teams clearly had a game plan against the opposing pitcher. The Cardinals appeared to be looking for fastballs early in the count and they jumped on Wade Davis in the second inning. They scored twice and by the end of the inning, it was clear that Davis was frustrated. However, he calmed down and adjusted to what the Cardinals were looking for. He shut them down for the rest of his outing.
The Rays, as they often do under Joe Maddon, were looking to be patient. Jake Westbrook, who has not had a particularly good year so far, took advantage of this by pounding the strike zone. A perfect example of this was Matthew Joyce‘s at bat in the second inning. He took two quick strikes and then flailed at a pitch that dove away down and away from him. At times, Westbrook would fall behind and the Rays would be able to work him for a walk but they were never able to get a big hit to push the walks across. Westbrook only allowed two hits through seven.
J.P. Howell took over in the eighth and got two quick outs. He appeared to have the third out when a 3-2 pitch to Lance Berkman crossed over the inside corner. Homeplate umpire Vic Carapazza called it ball four. Maddon argued and was ejected. It was clear Howell had a hard time focusing and committed a balk and then walked David Freese. Colby Rasmus then took Howell deep for a three-run homer. Howell’s reaction was just classic. He slammed his glove to the turf, snapped at the new ball that was tossed to him by the umpire, knocking it to the ground and then proceeded to argue again about the pitch. Of course, he was quickly ejected as were Elliot Johnson and David Price. Howell needs to be able to keep calm in these situations and maybe Maddon didn’t help by arguing so much.
The home run essentially put the game away. The Rays scored three runs of their own off of Cardinals’ pitcher Lance Lynn. Joyce celebrated the end of June by hitting a long home run to right. It was too little too late as Fernando Salas pitched a perfect ninth.
W: Jake Westbrook (7-4) 4.92 ERA
L: Wade Davis (7-6) 4.20 ERA
S: Fernando Salas (14) 2.61 ERA