Photo courtesy Tampa Bay Rays
C.J. Wilson faces James Shields today at Tropicana Field.
So the Rays face a stiff challenge today in trying to win Game 2 of their Division Series against the Rangers, evening the series at one game apiece before it heads west to Texas for the next two. They'll send James Shields to the mound, a right-hander who two years ago earned the nickname "Big Game James" because of his penchant to come through in crucial situations. This would be an opportune time for him to live up to the moniker.
After getting thoroughly dissected by Cliff Lee yesterday in Game 1, the Rays have some lineup changes against fellow left-hander C.J. Wilson. Carlos Pena, who struck out three times and wasn't exactly sparkling in the field, takes a seat. Ben Zobrist moves in from right field to take over at first base, with young Desmond Jennings in right. Also, Rocco Baldelli, who served as DH yesterday, had to be taken off Tampa Bay's roster due to what is being called "left leg fatigue." Baldelli suffers from a rare mitochondrial disorder that causes incredible muscle fatigue, and his return to play this postseason was shaping up to be an inspiring story. Sadly, it looks like he's done.
I'll share some thoughts along the way and will be interested to read your comments as well. Enjoy another day of postseason baseball. There's really nothing else like it...
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES — GAME 2
TEXAS RANGERS at TAMPA BAY RAYS
Gametime: 2:37 p.m.
TV: TBS Radio: WTNT-570 AM
RANGERS3:11 p.m. -- Scoreless through two so far, both pitchers looking pretty sharp. James Shields made Josh Hamilton look silly on a first-inning strikeout, first getting the AL batting champ to fling his bat into the photographer's well on a changeup, then getting him to swing and miss at another changeup for strike three. Hamilton did get a bit of revenge in the bottom of the second, making a nifty sliding catch of Willy Aybar's sinking liner to center. Hamilton, remember, missed most of September with two broken ribs, and that slide couldn't have felt good.
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Nelson Cruz
2B Ian Kinsler
1B Mitch Moreland
C Matt Treanor
RF Julio Borbon
(P C.J. Wilson)
SS Jason Bartlett
CF B.J. Upton
LF Carl Crawford
3B Evan Longoria
1B Ben Zobrist
DH Willy Aybar
C Kelly Shoppach
2B Sean Rodriguez
RF Desmond Jennings
(P James Shields)
3:27 p.m. -- Boy did Shields shoot himself in the foot there in the top of the third. He became totally obsessed with Elvis Andrus on the bases, and it cost him. He threw a wild pickoff attempt to first that allowed a runner to score from third (though Zobrist didn't help with his attempt to catch the errant throw). Then he slipped on the mound and threw a pitch behind Michael Young. The Rangers scored only one run, so Shields is fortunate in that way. But he better be careful the rest of the way.
3:43 p.m. -- And Ian Kinsler makes it 2-0 Rangers in the fourth with a solo homer off a 2-0 pitch from Shields. The way C.J. Wilson is pitching so far, that two-run lead certainly feels bigger. Tampa Bay's in serious trouble here.
4:07 p.m. -- Good night, Tampa Bay. The Rangers have busted it open in the fifth and now lead 5-0. After Shields was yanked with two on and one out in favor of Chad Qualls. Qualls appeared to have Michael Young struck out on a check swing, but first base ump Jerry Meals said he didn't go around. Next pitch: Three-run homer to center. And now Joe Maddon has been ejected for arguing. The wheels have come off at Tropicana Field, and Texas looks like it's going to head home up 2-0 in the series.
4:40 p.m. -- I'll admit I'd never really seen C.J. Wilson pitch before. Have to say, I'm impressed with what I've seen. Not just from the lefty, but from the Rangers as a whole.
5:47 p.m. -- Since baseball instituted the wild card in 1995, no team with the best record in its league has ever fallen behind 0-2 in the Division Series and come back to win. Such is the dilemma now facing the Rays, who have been thoroughly dissected by the Rangers' pitching staff the last two days. Cliff Lee yesterday, C.J. Wilson and Co. today. Final score: 6-0. Thus, Tampa Bay has scored one run in 18 innings of postseason play. Credit to the Texas pitching staff, and an opportunistic lineup. Mighty impressive stuff. Twins-Yankees Game 2 coming up in 20 minutes.