Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Net lag: Monday Night Rays go back-to-back-to-back

Tampa Bay Rays 13 - Los Angeles Angels 4
Tampa Bay Rays 1 - Los Angeles Angels 6

I hope that no-one will mind that I am only mentioning last night's defeat to the Angels in passing - I didn't watch it live (with a 3am start time, I think I am excused that), and I won't have the chance to watch it tonight. But its another road loss for James Shields, and it sounds like a tough one, where he was making his pitches, but just got beat by good hitting a couple of times. Thems the breaks.

Monday night's game, on the other hand, I did watch, and so saw all the breaks going the Rays way. Actually thats underselling things a little, because against the in-form Joe Saunders our hitters really found their swing.

It all started in the second inning, when Evan Longoria led off with another mammoth homer to left field. He was followed to the plate by the hot-hitting Willy Aybar, who I must admit has surprised me since he rejoined the team. He followed Evan exactly, belting another ball clear over the head of the leftfielder, and into the bullpen. Step forward Dioner Navarro. Navvy works a 3-2 count and, on the pay-off pitch connects just like Evan and Willy have done before, over the fence in left, back-to-back-to-back homeruns for the first time in franchise history.

Still, things are often interesting with Edwin Jackson on the hill, and indeed by the time the fourth was over, the Angels had moved into a 4-3 lead.

Still, not to worry. From there on in, it was all about the Rays hitters. 5 runs in the top of the fifth. 2 in the seventh. 1 in the eighth. And, just for good measure, 2 more in the ninth. The charge was well and truly led by Navvy, who with a 2-run double, an RBI-single, and another double continued his mighty form at the plate. That 4-5, 4RBI, 3-run day was almost matched by Evan though, who added another homerun in the ninth (his tenth of the season), as well as an RBI-double, to go 3-4 with 3RBI and 4 runs scored.

Indeed, nobody wanted to be left out, with all nine starters getting at least one hit, for a team-total of 18. Everybody except Aki Iwamura and Justin Ruggiano picked up an RBI - and Ruggiano, making the start in centre to give BJ Upton a rest at DH, made up for that by collecting 2 outfield assists. We turned three double plays, CC stole two bases, Edwin settled down and pitched a scoreless fifth, sixth and seventh, and all was right in Rays-world.

The loss last night though meant that we missed out on the opportunity to move back level with the Sox atop the East, and guaranteed a losing road-trip. Still, if we can win tonight's finale, we will have won 2 of the 3 series, which wouldn't be too bad at all. Trying to make it happen on the hill will be Scotty Kazmir, and he's going up against John Lackey, in what should be a cracking pitching matchup.

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