Going into tonight, it looked like this could be a tough matchup for the Rays. C.J. Wilson has been a dominant pitcher for the Rangers this season — posting a sub-3 ERA while pitching his home games in one of the biggest hitter’s parks in the league — and the Rays’ offense is not known for its incredible consistency. It was not unreasonable to expect the Rays to have a tough time scoring tonight.
Or at least, so I thought. The Rays have teed up off Wilson in the early innings of tonight’s game, rocking him for eight runs and seven hits in only five innings of work. Johnny Damon started things off with a two-run home run in the second inning, and then Kelly Shoppach has picked up the rest of the load, hitting two home runs and knocking in five runs.
Shoppach’s first home run was a three-run blast in the third inning, and then in his next at bat in the fifth inning, he ripped a two-run home run to put the Rays ahead 8-0.
In many ways, this performance from Shoppach is…unexpected. He hit .176/.268/.339 over 221 at bats on the season, and he’s mainly gotten playing time because he’s the Rays’ best defensive catcher. But Shoppach has always hit lefties well (.788 OPS this season against left-handed pitchers), and he’s been on a streak over the last week, hitting three home runs since last Wednesday. After making key errors in last season’s ALDS, Shoppach is doing his best to redeem himself.