Does anyone see the similarity between today’s first game of the double-header to the last time the Rays and Red Sox played on July 17? Sure, this game went only nine innings but neither offense was really did anything as both James Shields and Jon Lester were on their game. The Rays had a chance to get to Lester early, but never got the job done. Desmond Jennings, a player not in St. Pete that long night the last time these two teams played, led off the game with a double, stole third and then scored on a ground out. The Rays got another two men on in the second and got Lester’s pitch count over 40, but couldn’t extend the lead. The old cliche was true of Lester today. The Rays didn’t get him early so he was allowed to settle in and shut down the Rays the rest of the way.
As well as Lester pitched, I think Shields pitched better. Consider that he threw another complete game, his ninth of the year, although he only had to go through eight innings. In seven of those innings, he held the Red Sox hitless. In only one of those innings did he even allow a single baserunner, a walk to Kevin Youkilis in the fourth. It was the third inning that got him though. He allowed two singles and then a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.
You might as well have turned off your television or radio right there because there was only one more hit from either side the rest of the way.
Some other notes from the first game of this lightning quick three game series:
- Ben Zobrist added another “position” to repertoire by starting the game as the designated hitter. Zobrist apparently couldn’t bear to be off the field that long and he was eventually placed into the field when Joe Maddon attempted to get more offense in his lineup.
- If nothing else, James Shields with his effort today, saved the bullpen for tonight. The Rays got to see both Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon which might keep them from pitching in tonight’s game.
Players of the Game: James Shields and Jon Lester. Who pitched better? I would say Shields by the thinnest of margins and that’s what really kept him from winning this game.