The Tampa Bay Rays picked up a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays behind James Shields’ second consecutive dominant outing.
In Shields’ last start on July 31, he picked up just his second win since June 10 while manhandling the Oakland Athletic’s lineup. He picked up the CG shutout, holding the A’s to just three hits while striking out 11 and walking none.
Shields didn’t pick up a shutout tonight and his pitch count forced Joe Maddon to take him out after 8 innings, but he was just as dominant. He held the Bautista-less Jays to two hits and one walk while striking out six. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, allowing a hit and striking out a batter to pick up his 33rd save of the season.
The other big story for the Rays was third baseman Evan Longoria returning from the DL. He was the designated hitter and batted cleanup tonight while playing for the first time since April 30.
He had his first AB leading off the second inning, and took a 1-0 fastball and hit it hard back up the middle, but was robbed on a nice pickup from Jays pitcher J.A Happ.
It looked like the Rays weren’t going to score that inning, as there were two outs with nobody on and Happ was ahead of Ryan Roberys 0-2, but Roberts was able to work the count full and then doubled down the right field line. He then scored on a bloop hit from Sean Rodriguez.
The Rays added two more runs in the third inning. The bases were loaded with no outs after Demond Jennings singled, B.J. Upton hit a ground-rule double and then Ben Zobrist walked. Longoria and Jeff Keppinger then hit consecutive sacrifice flies.
The Rays then got their only run of the night in the top of the fourth inning when Colby Rasmus hit his 20th homer of the season on a 3-2 changeup.
The Rays scored the last run of the game in the fifth inning on doubles by Jennings and Zobrist.
Longoria singled in the eighth inning to finish his first game back 1-3 with the sac fly and an RBI. It was a very solid first game back, as the Rays hope he can keep up the .329/.433/.561 batting line he had before getting hurt while playing his usual gold-glove caliber defense at the hot corner. If he can, the Rays have as good of a shot at getting one of the wildcard spots as any of the plethora of teams competing for them. Rays fans could be in for yet another wild ride in September. Even if he doesn’t, it should still be fun.
About the Author
Written by Will Creager
I'm currently a senior at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, FL, studying math and sports journalism. Sports are my passion, especially baseball.