Game One of Four against the Twins, and the Rays were using quite the unconventional line up (see below). To see how well it worked, how about some play-by-play:
B.J. Upton walked in the first, proving worth in his on-base percentage, but the Rays would not get back on base until the fifth. A Matt Joyce single and a Dan Johnson walk were both great to see, but led to no production. Both men would single in the seventh as well, but to no avail. Frustration was setting in.
The Twins answered the Rays bats in the fifth with their own at the top of the sixth. After five great innings, James Shields allowed a double, a single, a sac fly, and a double. He then intentionally walked Danny Valencia and then another single to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. Shields finished the inning on a line out and a pop out to escape the jam.
Sam Fuld singled and stole in the bottom of the sixth, but again no production. In fact, the Rays would not score until the ninth. Up against Twins closer Joe Nathan(!), Upton struck out, Felipe Lopez doubled and Ben Zobrist walked to put two men on with one out. Matt Joyce then doubled to drive in both runs and tie the game(!!!), proving a method to Maddon's madness. Johnson and Jaso each flew out to right field and this game went into overtime. Score 2-2.
Top of the tenth, Jim Thome struck out before Kyle Farnsworth entered the game for the final two outs. He got the second out before allowing a single. The runner then made it to second on a wild pitch and then scored on a single up the middle. Farnsworth got the final out immediately after, but the Twins were leading in the top of the tenth 3-2.
Bottom ten, everything was on the line. Joe Nathan was relieved by his normal set up man Matt Capps. Reid Brignac opened with a fly out to left field , putting one out on the board before a Sam Fuld single. Johnny Damon then took to the plate and buried the first pitch that came into the strike zone just over the right field fence for a walk off two run homer! RAYS WIN!!!
- The Rays bullpen is performing quite well. Jake McGee got one hit and one out credited before Juan Cruz struck out one while finishing the last two men in the eighth. Cesar Ramos handled the ninth without issue, thanks to a fly ball to center and two ground outs, and then sat down Jim Thome at the top of the tenth.
- Farnsworth entered the game with two saves in two tries for the Rays. Today he got the win, despite giving up a dangerous run in the tenth. James Shields had an alright day, limiting the Twins to two runs with four K's and no homeruns but nine hits.
- Maddon's unconventional line up worked out tonight, most notably in the final two innings. With Longoria's return still a ways off, one has to wonder if he will continue valuing on base percentage.
- Showing great improvement, Matt Joyce found himself on base three times on three hits with two RBI's in the ninth. Sam Fuld and Dan Johnson also got on base twice today. John Jaso did not have the same luck, leaving four men on base and going 0-4 at the plate.
- Dan Johnson finished the fifth with a sliding catch in foul territory as John Jaso tumbled over him and they both went into the dug out -- quite the spectacular play.
- This was the Rays first walk off victory of the season and Damon's sixth of his career. Consequently, Johnny Damon is the first player in history to hit a walk off homerun for five different teams.
- Joe Mauer was placed on the DL this evening with leg weakness. Tampa Bay and Minnesota are now both without their star athlete and 4-8 in the standings.