THE GOOD: James Shields. If he keeps this up, we might have to stop calling him “Big Blast” James. Shields tossed his second-consecutive complete game, and has not allowed just 1 run in his last 19 innings pitched. He also has a 1.08 ERA in his last 3 starts. But the big difference has been the home runs. So far this year, he has allowed just 3 home runs (all in 1 start). Last year, he led the AL with 34 home runs allowed, or 1 every 6 innings. This year it is just 1 HR every 12.1 innings…Zorilla is Back. While Shields is now avoiding the long ball, Ben Zobrist has rediscovered his. After hitting just 10 home runs a year ago, Zobrist’s 2-run shot yesterday was his fifth in just 22 games…6th/7th Innings. In the 6th, Shields gave up a lead off double, but retired the next 3 batters. That included striking out the red-hot Jose Bautista with a steady diet of curves and changeups. In the 7th inning, Joe Maddon made a series of defensive switches that included moving Sean Rodriguez to third base. He responded with a great stop towards the line on the first pitch of the inning. He saved a double and threw Juan Rivera out at first.
THE BAD: Off-Days. When things are going this well, you hate to see off-days. Yes, they are often good for the players, but dammit, we want to watch the Rays tonight!
THE TELLING: Since the extra-inning game, the bullpen has only thrown 5 pitches (all by Farnsworth). And with today’s off-day, they should be well-rested for the Twins series…The Rays have now won 4 straight series after losing the first 3…
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Evan Longoria took batting practice for the first time since going on the DL. We are still looking at a hopeful return sometime in the next homestand for Dirtbag. [The Heater]
- Nick Cafardo spoke with some “evaluators” that think BJ Upton could be moved even if the Rays are still in contention and that the Rays are looking for a deal similar to the Matt Garza trade. [Boston.com]
- A Jeremy Hellickson bobblehead from the Cubs’ triple-A club (Hellboy went to high school nearby). [TampaBay.com]
- Rays Rev Radio debates Casey Kotchman and Dan Johnson in their latest podcast. [RaysRev.com]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Norfolk 6, DURHAM 5 (11): After winning a 14-inning marathon the day before, the Bulls lost in 11 yesterday. After SS Ray Olmedo gave the Bulls the lead in the top of the 11th with an RBI-single, Mike Ekstrom blew the save and the game by giving up 2 runs in the bottom half of the inning…CF Desmond Jennings was 3-6 and RF Chris Carter had 3 singles and an RBI.
- Mississippi 4, MONTGOMERY 1: Matt Moore struck out 6 in 5 innings, but also gave up 2 solo home runs. Those were the only 2 runs he gave up, but now has allowed 12 runs in his first 18.1 innings this season…SS Tim Beckham was 1-4 with a double and scored the Biscuits only run on DH Stephen Vogt’s single.
- CHARLOTTE: no game scheduled
- BOWLING GREEN: no game scheduled
James Shields (via TampaBay.com)