It seems that spending over a quarter of a billion dollars on big-name players doen't equal more wins, and the Marlins have realized this. James Shields wasn't exactly dominant this afternoon, but he did pitch well, and two homers off the bats of Matt Joyce and Elliot Johnson would be enough run support to complete a series sweep of the Rays' in-state rivals.
B.J. Upton's RBI double in the first started the game's scoring, but it wouldn't be until the fourth inning that the long balls started to fly. Matt Joyce hit a solo shot to right-center of Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, giving the Rays a 2-0 cushion, which seemed like it would be enough given how dead the Fins' bats were.
Elliot Johnson's two run homer on a hanging Changeup by Sanchez would turn out to be the deciding factor, though, as Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez drove in the Fins only two runs of the game. By ESPN's hittracker.com standards, Johnson's shot would've been classified as a "Lucky Homer", but Johnson—who enjoyed a great series over the weekend—will take a bomb any way he can get it, regardless of how big of a bomb it was.
Although Shields got his seventh win of the season today, he continues to look as though he's in a pitcher's funk: three walks and five strikeouts doesn't seem like a bad day on the mound, but if you consider what Shields did last year (eleven complete games and four shutouts), 6.1 IP on 102 pitches is an uncharacteristically short start for "Complete Game James." Still, the Rays will take a win wherever they can get it, as they are still without the ailing Evan Longoria, not to mention the slumps that Carlos Pena and Luke Scott are still in (read Jason Hanselman's articles!).
The Rays remaim in sole possession of first place in the divison after today's win, but the Yankees also won (5-4 against the Mets on a Russel Martin walkoff homer) and are only a half game back. Boston, on the other hand, lost their game (and were swept) against the Nationals today, dropping them to 29-31 on the season and 6 games behind the Rays; they remain last in the division.
Notables from today's game:
J. Shields(TAM): (W,7-4) 6.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K
BJ Upton(TAM): 2-4, 2B, RBI
M. Joyce(TAM): 1-4, R, HR, RBI
E. Johnson(TAM): 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI
Rays news and notes:
- The Rays will enjoy an off day today and will return home tomorrow to take on the New York Mets for a three-game set. Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.13 ERA) will open up the series Tuesday night against right-hander Chris Young (0-0, 3.60 ERA); first pitch at 7:10.
- Longo update: Evan Longoria is scheduled to run at the Trop before Tuesday's game, and will possibly begin his rehab assignment on Wednesday.
- An interesting incident happened during the seven inning of yesterday's game. The Rays' coaching staff attempted to call the bullpen to get relievers Burke Badenhop and Jake McGee warmed up, but the phone didn't work. Here's how Joe—being the creative guy he is—solved the problem: