Speaking calmly and cooly on ESPN Radio this morning, Rangers head man and former fireballer Nolan Ryan said he suspected it would take Rangers hitters two turns around the batting order tonight to get comfortable against Matt Moore.
Make that three turns, and they’re still waiting.
It made so much sense for the Rays to start the young phenom Moore that even the Rangers knew they were in for an early challenge.
But the X-factor was the Rays bats showing up in a big way.
Joe had to laugh. After the 9-0 blowout with two homers from Kelly Shoppach, a reporter asked Shoppach to comment on his rough season at the plate versus how he’s been hitting the last week or so. Shoppach wouldn’t bite and said he’s always confident and if they keep pitching where he’s swinging then he’ll be contributing.
But the reality is Shoppach muscled a low-and-away C. J. Wilson pitch over the wall just to the right of dead center field for the three-run bomb that put the game away in the third inning. That pitch is not one he would have done anything with all season long.
Shoppach routinely tries to pull that ball and whiffs, pulling his hips out and sometimes tossing the bat into the third base stands. But today the Rays got the Shoppach they signed originally, a guy with opposite field power who occasionally will go with a pitch to keep his average acceptable.
If that guy shows up for the rest of the series, and the Rays subsequently remove a black hole from their lineup, then their chances of landing in the ALCS improve dramatically.