James Shields failed to record a complete game for the first time in a while, and only went seven innings. He struck out 10, walked two, and allowed four runs—with 75 percent of the damage coming on a Ryan Hanigan home run. Shields just left a curve in a bad spot and Hanigan cranked it. Otherwise, Shields pitched well against a good lineup.
After Shields’ departure, J.P. Howell and Juan Cruz combined to strike out four batters—with Howell benefitting from the ambiguous zone dictated by Angel Hernandez. All and all, the Rays pitchers fanned 14 batters on the day. That’ll get you places most days.
Offensively, the Rays were led by Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton. Longoria hit a ball down the right field line that plated two. You sort of wonder if Jay Bruce makes the play if he is stationed in normal position, but Dusty Baker seemingly had his outfielders playing deep all series long.
Upton, for his part, smoked a ball over the left-center fence in the seventh inning. According to the team’s official Twitter account, the estimated distance was 442 feet.
Give whoever decided to keep Matt Joyce tethered to first base in the ninth some credit. You had to know the Rays were going to try to get Joyce to second, to avoid the double play, as well as set up a potential scoring play on a single, but the plan never had the chance to be set into motion.
Johnny Damon now has more hits in his career than Ted Williams. I don’t want to go off on what looks like an anti-Damon rant here, but the celebration surrounding this is a little weird. Williams is one of the greatest players of all time, and there is an argument to be made that he is the greatest hitter of all time. Yes, Damon has more hits, but on a counting basis. Williams reached his number in 1,500 fewer at-bats and did so after missing three seasons earlier in his career fighting in World War II, and most of 1952-1953 seasons thanks to the Korean War.
There just aren’t too many players who you can strip away all but 122 plate appearances from their years 24, 25, 26, 33, and 34-year-old seasons, and yet they still rate well in counting stats. This isn’t about Damon being overrated or anything, but Williams being underrated by the methodology.