Before the game starts, I wanted to make sure that I went on record as continuing to see the Rays as capable of winning the series with Texas.
OK, I'm kind of cheating by taking positions on all sides of this thing. I gave Texas the advantage in the series by noting Tampa Bay's year long offensive underperformance.
I dissed James Shields by supposing that both he and Matt Garza might be left off the starting rotation in the playoffs.
Garza gets the nod because you can't leave a guy off the staff who three a no-hitter earlier in the season. And Garza's got great stuff. It's just a matter of locating his pitches.
Shields I figured might be out because he gives up so many home runs. Texas is a power hitting team (witness the three dingers yesterday). The Yankees are a power hitting team.
But I'm just little old me. I completely allow that Joe Maddon might have a statistical insight that makes it a good idea to send Shields to the hill against Texas. And if Shields gives up fewer than two home runs while pitching five or more innings then I won't engage in any "I-told-you-so's." He'd have done better than Price in that case.
It looked like the umpire deprived the Rays of a run yesterday, as Carlos Pena was apparently nicked on the hand by an inside pitch with the bases loaded. Would the Rays have won if they had scored an early run off Cliff Lee? Nobody knows. But the Rangers played a good game and collected three home runs so I won't grouse about the outcome. I'll just stick with grousing about having the outcome influenced by faulty umpiring.
I'm barely done posting and Shields completes the first inning without surrendering a hit. Here's to more of the same. Go Rays!