Rays Squeeze Angels In Extras, Complete Sweep

The game is tied at 3-3 going into extra innings and you lead off the tenth with a pinch hit walk. Evan Longoria had not played the game either, but he manages a soft grounder that puts you both safely on second and first. Up to the plate is potentially the worst at bat in your dug out, the defensive genius Reid Brignac. He had made a few stellar plays on the field this evening and also homered in the third. He tries to lay down a bunt to move the runners over, but it went foul. Again, no outs. What do you do? Take matters into your own hands?

In this case, if you're John Jaso, the answer is yes. The young catcher decides to steal on what turned out to be a 95 mph fastball that should have left him dead to rights, but Alberto Callaspo dropped the ball as it had careened out the strike zone and been a difficult catch up and in. Brignac even dropped out of the pitch's way, and when he'd turned around Jaso was standing on third with a big-stupid-grin on his face, thankful it worked out. He had not stolen a base this season.

M-V-Briggy then layed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt up the first base line that scored Jaso. It was the only run scored in the tenth and the Rays went home with their first sweep at Angels Stadium. 

"We played well the whole time," Joe Maddon told mlb.com. "Great energy in the dugout despite all the illness we had going throughout the team. ... It was a fun three days the way we went about our business. I'm very proud of the guys. The way we fought back there. I've always talked about winning extra-inning games on the road and that was the mark of a good baseball team."

The evening featured a marquee match up between James Shields and Jered Weaver. The men were evenly match and performed equally well. Shields allowed seven hits, three walks over eight strikeouts. Weaver allowed eight hits, one walk, struck out five, and both men gave up three earned runs.

All in all, the Rays handled Jered Weaver well and were first to get on the board when Reid Brignac hit a solo shot off a 73 mph curveball in the third that was just the right speed for the awful-at-bat short stop. Justin Ruggiano doubled in Matt Joyce in the seventh and Ben Zobrist tripled in Johnny Damon in the eighth. Then the Angels answered.

James Shields had pitched out of a few jams last night, one in the second after putting men on second and third by striking out three men swinging and the other by forcing a ground out double play with bases loaded in the fifth, but Shields was pulled in the eighth after loading the bases again with no outs. Cesar Ramos came in to relieve Shields but gave up a double to Bobby Abreu that cleared the bases. Two pitches and his night was done.

Joel Peralta silenced the Halos to finish the eighth and Juan Cruz pitched a quiet ninth that would give him the win. The game went into extras tied at three each and after the Rays went up in the tenth Maddon sent in Kyle Farnsworth to earn the save. He allowed one walk (his second of the season) but got the all-important three outs, including a K on a seventh pitch slider that fooled the final batter. Fun fact: The Farns was pitching 99 mph, but that came in like bugs bunny threw it, 88 mph. (whiff)

Game Notes

  • Continuing the tit-for-tat, James Shields picked off Maicer Izturis at first base and the next inning Jered Weaver picked off B.J. Upton at second. In such an even match up for the pitchers, it seems fitting both of them got a no-decision.
  • The Angels left 18 men on base this evening, compared to Tampa's seven. Ouch. The whole evening felt like a game the Halos should have won; the Rays were fortunate to bag another win. They remain 2.5 games back and third in the AL East.
  • The Rays travel to Camden Yards next to put David Price, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson on the mound against Buck Showalter's  Orioles.

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