James Shields pitched his 3rd shutout and 4th complete game of the 2011 season tonight, silencing a streaking Boston Red Sox offense. Shields (6-4) best veteran knuckler Tim Wakefield (3-2), finishing all 9 innings with 110 pitches and 5 strikeouts. Shields danced in out of trouble all night, inducing a bases-loaded ground ball from Carl Crawford in the first and getting a dandy double play ball from Kevin Youkilis in the 3rd inning, getting out of runners-on-the-corners, one-out jam.
Tim Wakefield, on the other hand, completed the 7th inning on what could easily be regarded the angel wings of great fortune. Wakefield's knuckle ball did not fool the Rays hitters, who took five walks off the Red Sox starter tonight. Despite the walks and the crushed foul balls (Wakefield surrendered about 5 foul home runs), Wakefield escaped with only 1 earned run against his tab and 2 runs in total.
Justin Ruggiano continued his hot hitting tonight, powering a homer to left field 5th inning to give the Rays a 1-0 advantage. The Rays scored again in the 6th inning on passed ball, allowing Evan Longoria to dash across the plate. In the bottom of the 8th, the Rays sealed the victory, taking a 4-0 lead on a pair of RBI singles from Casey Kotchman and John Jaso.
Shields then finished the game with his 6th 1-2-3 inning of the night, defeating the heart of the Red Sox order on just 9 pitches.
Notes from the game:
- Adrian Gonzalez, in addition to playing some elite defense at first, led the Red Sox offense, going 3 for 4. Only Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew could muster additional hits on the night, and no Red Sox hitter had the privilege of an extra base hit.
- Johnny Damon went 1 for 4, scorching a double to right field and extending his team-record on-base streak to 38 games.
- Justin Ruggiano and Casey Kotchman had the only multi-hit showings for the Rays, Ruggiano going 2 for 4 with his game-winning homer and Kotchman going 2 for 3 with a walk.