Monday, 26 May 2008

O's sweep!

Baltimore Orioles 4 - Tampa Bay Rays 5

That, was a better win. Ok, so we allowed Baltimore to score the same number of runs as on Saturday, and we scored fewer ourselves, but believe me it was a better win.

Take James Shields. Like Edwin Jackson the night before, he wasn't at his best. But unlike Jackson, Shields didn't let it affect him. He battled superbly, showing exactly the kind of determination that you want to see from a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. He ended with a no-decision, but make no mistake, if it wasn't for him knuckling down and working through the innings, we wouldn't have been in the position to win. He gave up four runs, including a(nother) homerun to Aubrey Huff in the 6th that looked as though it could be his undoing. Rather, he fought on, pitched two more scoreless innings and kept the Rays in the game.

And when the Rays are in the game, they are dangerous. We'd gotten on the board with a four run third, the highlight being Carlos Pena's team-leading 10th homer, and had had an all-around solid, if not spectacular day at the plate - often threatening, but being held at bay by some nice pitching from the O's. You can't say that we weren't doing everything we could to make things happen though - 3 stolen bases, an outfield assist from Gabe Gross, and a sweet pick-off at first base by James Shields just a few of the little things that can add up big when the game gets serious in the ninth.

And it was very serious with a tie game and Ray-killer Huff leading off for the Orioles. Trever Miller came in to pitch to him, and did exactly what a lefty-specialist is meant to do, exactly what he has been doing all season - he got the out. Troy Percival then came in and got outs 26 and 27.

Move forward to the bottom of the ninth, 1 out, and the O's bring in George Sherrill to face Carlos Pena. Tough lefty-lefty matchup for Carlos, but he sticks with it and works the walk. Up comes Evan Longoria, fresh of his 2-homer, 6-RBI day on Saturday. He sees a pitch he likes and laces it into right-centre. Pena takes off like a rocket, and as Longoria hustles into second Pena crosses the plate, moving faster than possibly he's ever moved before. Walk-off win for the Rays, our fourth series sweep of the season, 10 games over .500 at 30-20 and sole possession of first place in the AL East again.


The Texas Rangers are in town from tonight, meaning the Trop debut of former top-pick Josh Hamilton. After all the problems that he has had to overcome, I'm really pleased that he's finally demonstrating the potential that the Rays saw all those years ago - although I'm sure you'll understand it when I say that I hope he doesn't demonstrate it too well this week. Scott Kazmir gets the start tonight, and he'll be up against Sidney Ponson.

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