Sunday, April 12, 2009

Heading Home: Bats wake-up and Shields shines

The Rays avoided a sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Easter afternoon thanks to an offensive explosion and some great pitching by "Big Game" James Shields.  Everyone got into the act behind the plate, even Pat Burrell got a couple of hits. Evan Longoria continued his insane start to the season with his fifth home run.  Overall, good performance heading into Monday's big Championship match-up against the New York Yankees.

Here are some things I noticed about today's game:

  • Carl Crawford got the RISP monkey off the Rays back with a 3-run triple that opened the floodgates.  I give credit to the warmer afternoon weather.
  • James Shields pitched like a man possessed.  You could just tell it was going to be his day when he was able to get Roberts/Jones/Markakis in order in the 1st inning.
  • Shields also got caught on camera lobbying Maddon to pitch the 8th.  While I admire his tenacity, I'd prefer him to go out on a good note.
  • Longoria continues to swing a big stick. The man is possessed. If we could just get a little more from Pena and Burrell, the middle of the order would be sick.
  • Aki seems to be lobbying to stay in the number 1 spot as he continues to rack up hits. I'm beginning to lean toward wishing Maddon would return the order to what we saw last year with Aki/Upton/Crawford/Longo.  I see no problem putting Burrell at 6th, for now.
  • All hail the Z-man. Ben Zobrist's three-run homer continues the power surge that he began last year.
  • Open note to Joe Maddon: I know you wanted to get Balfour some work, but spare us when the Rays have such a lead. Balfour obviously thrives on pressure. 11-0 in the 9th is not pressure. So, he made his own.
  • I love Carlos Pena, but I really hate when he hits pile-on homers.  I want to see him hit one when it matters.

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