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BJ Upton celebrating in the 6th. — Courtesy: Sun Sports via @CorkGaines
Outfield: BJ Upton made one of his trademark running catches in the fourth. Nothing real flashy other than that. So good game for the outfield on defense. (4 stars)
Infield: In the second, S-Rod made a decision to get the runner heading to first rather than the lead runner on a ground ball. In the sixth, Evan Longoria made an extraordinary leaping grab to strand the bases loaded and help out James Shields. As with the outfield, nothing real flashy or standing out other than what was mentioned. Nice day for the Infield. (3.7 stars)
Starting pitching: Shields went 1-2-3 in the first. He then walked the lead off man in the second, he got as far as third but was stranded there. Shields retired the first two batters of the third before giving up his first hit to Denard Span. The single ended up not mattering as he was stranded by next batter, and Shields is at 36 pitches through 3 innings. James gives up a hit to the lead off man in the fourth thanks to a misplay by Sean Rodriguez. After Mauer stole a base, Shields got out of it. James has a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and is at 59 pitches. Shields retires the first two batters of the sixth before giving up a two out single to Mauer. Big Game then hit Willingham twice with the pitch to put runners at first and second. Mauer walked after that on what should have been strike three to load the bases. Shield got out of it on a line out to Evan Longoria, after the extended inning Shield was at 88 pitches. For the 7th, James rebounded and sat down the Twins hitters 1-2-3 with the latter two being strike outs. Shields needed 10 pitches in the 7th. Shields gets the Twins hitters again 1-2-3 in the 8th. After 8 IP, Shields sits at 112 pitches. Shields gave up a lead-off hit to Willingham to start the 9th and then a double to Morneau. And that would end Shields' night at 119 pitches.
Shields was...well he was Shields. That sixth inning killed him though. Still a great outting by Shields, next time he gets the CG. Yes that's my prediction. (5 stars)
Bullpen: Only bullpen member we see tonight is the unofficial closer Fernando Rodney. He gives up a sac fly to left field giving the Twins a run. Rodney then strikes out Valencia looking. He then struck out Thomas swinging to end the game. Another good save for Rodney. (4.7 stars)
Catching: Molina threw away the ball while trying to catch the runner stealing second due to a lazy throwing motion in the top of the fourth. While not a horrible outting for Molina, I know he can do better. (3 stars)
Offense: First two batters in the bottom half of the first were retired then Carlos Pena singled but was stranded on a pop out by Longo. In the second, the Rays get runners on first and second with two outs via a single and a HBP but are stranded. Rays go 1-2-3 in the third. In the fourth with one out, Luke doubled up the left field line and off the wall. Matt Joyce follows up with a ground ball single in to right field moving Scott over to third. However, Luke is stranded after Upton grounded in to an inning ending double play. In the fifth, Molina lead off the inning with a double and was moved over on sac bunt by S-Rod. Jennings tried to bunt Molina home but popped it up enough for Mauer to catch it and they double up Molina for an unassisted double play to end the inning and the threat. Carlos draws the first walk of the night for the Rays in the sixth with one out. Longoria follows with an 8-pitch at bat which results in a single. Luke Scott then with a sac fly that moves the runners over. The Twins then intentionally walk Matt Joyce to load the bases for BJ Upton. BJ unloads the bases on an RBI double plus error that would see Upton end up at third to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. That would be all the Rays get as Molina would then ground out to end the inning. Official scoring on that was a double, 2 RBIs with the third run scoring on the error. Pavano gave way to to the bullpen for the 7th and they quickly got S-Rod out to lead off the 7th. Jennings speed allows him to follow with an infield single to third. Zobrist then hit a ground ball that should have been a double play but an error allowed Zobrist to reach and Jennings to be safe at second. Pena then reaches on a HBP to load the bases for Longo and he grounds a ball to third and reaches on defensive miscue and that scores Jennings. Official scoring was an error to the 3B for the twins, Valencia, and an RBI for Longo. Luke Scott would end the threat by grounding in to an inning ending double play. Upton and Molina drew back to back walks in the eighth, they later move up on a wild pitch. S-Rod hits a ground ball to second, the throw is to home which gets Upton in a run down and he's tagged out, meanwhile, Molina moved up to third. Jennings then flies out to center to end the threat.
Offense had a decent night, still too many wasted opportunities with runners in scoring position. You need to hit it where the ain't, as the old baseball cliche goes. (3.8 stars)
Umpiring: I have no real big complaint about the umpiring tonight, just wondering how the home plate ump missed that first HBP of Willingham in the sixth. The umpire did miss a strike three call on the pitch that walked Morneau in the sixth. (3.9 stars)
Player(s) of the game: BJ Upton and James Shields
Play of the game: BJ Upton's 2 RBI double plus error
Final word: This was a hard earned victory for the Rays. They did leave runners in scoring position a lot again today. Despite those woes, we got the "W" and that's what matters. (4 stars)
On a side note, the attendance for the night was 31,774. That's a pretty large number. Especially considering on April 16, 2011 vs. Twins, which was a Saturday as well, was attended by 16,428. Wow. (via @CorkGaines)