Friday, 11 April 2008

E-Jax the stopper

Seattle Mariners 0 - Tampa Bay Rays 7

Finally I have written something that didn't immediately come back to haunt me! Yesterday I remarked that Edwin Jackson had looked the best of the rotation the first time through, and attempting to halt a 4-game skid, he showed it again yesterday with what must go down as one of his best ever outings in a Rays jersey.

Despite what the final score may suggest, the game was a real pitcher's duel, with Miguel Batista matching Jackson strike for strike through most of the early play. Neither team got their first hit until the fourth, but while the M's could muster only a single, in the bottom of the frame Eric Hinske belted a 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-centre to give the Rays a lead that frankly we never looked like conceding.

Jackson just kept on throwing strikes - even the pitches he missed with didn't miss by much. The signs are very encouraging - we all know he has great stuff, but all too often its his control that lets him down. Not last night. While he did give up four walks, as I said they were almost always good pitches that just missed. His final line of 8IP, just 2 hits given up, no runs, 4BB and 6Ks just underlines how impressive he was. Trever Miller came on to get the final three outs, helped by the second of two Bartlett-Aki-Pena double plays. That is a DP combination that is already looking like it could become one of the best in the league.

With Jackson's fantastic effort on the mound, the offense really didn't need to give him that much help. But as so often seems the way, a good pitching performance can help wake sleeping bats. Mike DiFelice blooped a single in the sixth, scoring Jonny Gomes, and then repeated the trick almost exactly in the 7th, this time scoring a pair to round out the scoring. Those were the last two of 5 runs in the 7th, following a two-run single from BJ Upton, and the first, and easiest, RBI of Justin Ruggiano's career - a pinch-hit, bases-loaded, four-pitch walk.

Good days at the plate for DiFelice (2-4 with 3RBI), Aki Iwamura who was 2-3 with two walks, and for Jonny Gomes who was 2-2 with 2 walks, one of them intentional, and two runs.

The Orioles are coming to town next, with James Shields starting tonight (which I won't be watching), Jason Hammel on Saturday (which I probably will), and a player to be named getting the nod on Sunday afternoon. Its looking likely that that man is going to be Jeff Niemann, which I am naturally looking forward to. A roster move will have to be made before that can happen, which I presume will see Jae-kuk Ryu returning to Durham.


Michael Norton said...

Got feathers in your mouth feasting off them birds?

Michael Norton - Some Clubhouse

Johnny said...

Yeah! I enjoyed watching that this morning... and with Longoria coming, things could soon be getting even better.