May 4, 2012

GAME REVIEW: The night of the hot one and two spots

by Aaron Giddens






Click here for expanded Box Score.

BJ Upton
BJ Upton — Courtesy: Sun Sports
TGIF! It's time for another Friday Fest at the Trop. Tonight the Rays are taking on the Oakland Athletics. Rays are fresh off their four game sweep of the Seattle Mariners and on a 9-game home winning streak. Rays send David Price to the mound trying to keep the home winning streak alive. Oakland will counter with Tyson Ross. Let's play ball!

David Price starts out the game with a strike out looking of Jemile Weeks and a strike out swinging of Cliff Pennington. Josh Reddick grounds out to end the top of the first. A's go 1-2-3. Desmond is first pitch swinging to lead off the bottom half of the inning and has a single to center. After BJ lines out to third and Pena pops out, Matt Joyce is "hit" by the pitch (it hit his jersey), putting runners on second and first with 2 outs. They would be stranded though as Scott lines out to left.

Yoenis Cespesdes leads off the second for the A's and he grounds out to short stop to first and is out on the tag by Pena. Gomes is next and doubles softy up the right field line. Later, Suzuki doubles up the left field line, scoring Gomes from 2nd. That would be all they get as Price strikes out Ka'aihue to end the half inning. Four strike outs for Price at this point. Zobrist leads it off for the Rays in the bottom half of the inning, he grounds out after an extended at-bat. Rhymes lines out and Molina grounds out, and the Rays go in order in the second.

In the third, Taylor strikes swinging and Weeks flies out to Joyce in right who make a Sam Fuld-esque diving catch. Pennington grounds out to Rhymes at third to end the half inning. S-Rod leads off the bottom half and he doubles to the wall in center, almost homering, on the first pitch. Desmond taps it to third and is out, meanwhile S-Rod moves over to third. BJ Upton doubles over Cespedes head in center and S-Rod scores from third to tie the game. Pena strikes out swinging and Joyce walks with two outs to put runners on first and second. A balk is then called on A's pitcher Ross and the runners move up one base, runners on second and third. On the very next pitch, Scott singles to right-center and both Joyce and Upton score and give the Rays the lead, 3-1. Zobrist pops out to end the inning.

A's hitters go 1-2-3 in the top of the third, 2 of them on strike outs, giving Price 7 on the night so far. Rhymes single to shallow left on a bobbled ball by Taylor which falls to the turf. Molina is next and hits a ball in the seats in left field, a two-run shot by Molina. After S-Rod strikes out, Jennings gets a single. BJ Upton then hits a double up the left field line, Jennings comes all the way around to score from first. Pena walks. On a passed ball, the runners move up. Matt Joyce singles through the hole between third and short and the Rays add another run with BJ Upton scoring from third, Pena moves up to third. That's it for Ross, he's relieved by Pedro Figueroa. On a passed ball, Joyce moves up to second, no chance for Pena to score. Scott lines in to a unassisted double play to shortstop, Joyce is tagged out with no chance to react. This ends the inning.

Price gets the first two batters out in the fifth but walks the third, Ka'aihue, with two outs. It ends up not meaning a thing as Taylor flies out to center harmlessly to end the top half of the fifth. Rays hitters go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth.

A's hitters go in order in the sixth. Jerry Blevins is the new pitcher for the A's, he faces S-Rod first. S-Rod pops out in foul territory to the first baseman Ka'aihue. Jennings walks. BJ Upton bounces a ball back to the mound, Blevins fields it and throws it to second to force out Jennings but the throw to first is high and too late to get Upton. Pena can't check his wing in time according to home plate ump Doug Eddings, no appeal to third and Pena is out swinging on strikes to end the inning. Pena shares a few words with Eddings before walking away.

Cespedes starts the seventh inning by striking out swinging. Gomes follows and hits an infield single to S-Rod at shortstop. Inge flies out to left. Suzuki strikes out swinging to end the inning and that's strikeout number 10 for Price. We head in to the seventh inning stretch with the Rays winning 7-1. Blevins gets the first two Rays batters out before being relieved by Jim Miller. He gets Zobrist out on a fly ball to right that just missed getting out of here. End of the seventh, Rays go 1-2-3.

Defensive changes for the Rays, in the eighth: Rhymes out of the game, S-Rod moves to 3rd and Elliot Johnson in to the game at Shortstop. A's hitters go 1-2-3. 12 K's now for Price. Rays hitters go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth.

Price doesn't get the chance at the complete game, he is relieved by Brandon Gomes to start the ninth. He promptly gives up a solo shot to right by Pennington. Reddick flies out to left. Cespedes singles to center. Brandon Gomes then hits Johnny Gomes with the pitch, Cespedes moves up to second. Gomes then with a wild pitch and the runners move up. Inge strikes out for the second out. That's 13 Ks by Rays pitching tonight. Seth Smith pinch hits for Kurt Suzuki. He walks to load the bases and that would be it for Gomes. Peralta relieves him looking for the last out. Ka'aihue is next to bat. He grounds it to Pena at first who tosses it to Peralta who's over covering first to end the game.

Now let's break this sucker down...

Outfield: Just a beautiful effort by the outfield tonight, no slip ups and that magical Sam Fuld like diving catch from Matt Joyce. (4.6 stars)

Infield: No real foul ups by the infield tonight. Nothing real special either. Overall an average night. (3.5 stars)

Starting pitching: I tried my hardest to find something that David did wrong but could find a dang thing. You just don't get too many starts better than that. Tonight he reminded us what he's capable of and why he was the Opening Day starter in 2011. You just don't beat 12 strikeouts on 3 hits. Superb. (5 stars)

Bullpen: Gomes was absolutely awful. I don't usually question Joe Maddon, by now we know not to. But as Joe is human, he is capable of the occasional mistake and I believe that was one. What was Joe thinking? Gomes game up 3 hits a hit batsman a solo home run and a walk in two thirds an inning. Luckily, Peralta saved the day by getting the last out. Peralta was epic as usual. Don't use Gomes ever again, please. Or at least not until he can prove he won't screw up like that again. (3 stars)

Catching: A couple of screw ups but nothing major and I was satisfactory with Molina behind the plate tonight. (2.9 stars)

Offense: A slow start, a slow end, but a red hot middle, that's the story of the Rays offense tonight. The third and fourth innings was fun to watch. Picking up Price after he had his only flub up of the night in the second. I would like to see the Rays offense stay this hot the whole game though, so room for improvement. (3.7 stars)

Umpiring: Doug Eddings was awful, microscopic strike zone at times, horrible judgment calls with check swings. Awful. The rest of the umpiring crew was a treat though. (3 stars)

Player(s) of the game: BJ Upton and Desmond Jennings. Just a really good offensive night for them.

Play of the game: Mat Joyce's diving Sam Fuld-esque catch

Final word: A well played game tonight and the Rays have their 10th straight win at home and a 19-8 overall record, the best record in baseball. The offense really worked tonight in the third and fourth, though after that they went cold. David Price was unstoppable tonight, no one could get to him. I really think he should have had a shot at the complete game, he was only at 106 pitches. Just a well played game save for Gomes who needs to get better or go away. I like tonights game, keep it going. (4 stars)


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