On a day that could have been gloomy turned out to be sunny and bright for the Rays. Until the ninth inning, only Ben Zobrist (hit) and Jose Lobaton (walk) had made it on base.
TOP OF THE NINTH
Joe Maddon started the inning pinch hitting Jeff Keppinger for Sean Rodriguez against a tired Justin Verlander. Keppinger singled to center, Reid Brignac struck out, and Desmond Jennings singled to right field to move Kepp to third and put runners on the corners for Carlos Pena.
This is when Verlander fell apart. Despite his eight inning, one hit performance, the Detroit ace's control disappeared against The Los:
If you're wondering where pitches 2, 4, 5 and 6 are, that's how badly Verlander was missing. Pitch 6 (actually visible at the bottom of the screen) walked Pena but skipped away from catcher Alex Avila and allowed Keppinger to score, cutting Detroit's lead to one run. Next up? Evan Longoria, with runners on first and second.
Now, if you were wondering what happens when you don't have a defensive third baseman, choppers in the dirt bounce into left field and you blow the lead in the ninth. Just ask the Tigers about Miguel Cabrera (VIDEO). Desmond Jennings scored on the Longoria single to tie the game 2-2.
The Tigers tried to match up lefty Dan Schlereth against lefty Matt Joyce, but Joe Maddon dropped in Elliot Johnson and his great vision to pull off a walk and load the bases. Desperate, the Tigers turned to their closer Jose Valverde, but he couldn't stop Ben Zobrist from singling to right field, plating Pena and Longo and giving the Rays their 4-2 lead!
From there: Stephen Vogt popped out, Jose Lobaton walked (again), and Keppinger grounded out to end the inning.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH
The Rays turned again to Fernando Rodney to save the game, with 3-4-5 in the order due up. He made quick work of Miguel Cabrera, thanks to Elliot Johnson's perfect defensive position in left field, and got Prince Fielder (who may or may not have the same beard as Rodney) to foul out along the third base line. Jhonny Peralta flew out to center, and the Rays won the game!
- In five games this season, Rodney has made four appearances for the Rays with 3 saves and 1 win. Fantasy Leagues, watch out!
- James Shields went eight innings with 5 strikeouts and six hits for two earned runs. A decent appearance from Fuego G against a stacked Detroit lineup.
- Justin Verlander nearly 1-hit the Rays until the ninth inning, where the wheels fell off. Even still, the 2011 MPV has had a great performance after two starts this season: 16.1 IP, 14 K, 3 BB, 0.55 WHIP, 2.20 ERA
- Verlander and Shields both balked in the third inning... what were the odds of that happening?