Tampa Bay put four runs on the board and let James Shields and Fernando Rodney go to work in defeating the Blue Jays last night. Shields put together his second gem in a row in holding Toronto to a single run over eight innings, and Rodney slammed the door in the ninth for his thirty-third save in forty-two opportunities. In his last two outings, Shields has given up one run while striking out seventeen, while issuing a single free pass and five hits.
While Shields is returning to his “Complete Game” James dominance, the Rays were glad to have a designated hitter by the name of Evan Longoria back in the lineup. Longoria had a single, an RBI sacrifice fly to deep right, and a strikeout in four plate appearances. He doesn’t consider himself a savior, but having him anchor the lineup seemed to bring a little extra juice to it.
Tonight, Alex Cobb will take the ball for the Rays as the Blue Jays will send Carlos Villanueva (6-1. 3.19) to the hill. Cobb is coming off a fine seven-inning outing against Oakland a week ago. He allowed the Athletics a single earned-run on four hits, while striking out six and walking one.
- James Shields has been nothing less than dominant in his past two starts. Both have come after the July 31st trade deadline passed. It seems both he and the Rays are glad that he’s in the same uniform.
- I’ve heard a number of folks talking on television about how Evan Longoria’s return probably won’t solve the Rays’ offensive woes. Well, I disagree. Not to put the load on his back, but he provides stability in the most important part of the lineup. And although it may take him a while to round into form, pitchers will still know what he’s capable of. Thus, others should see better pitches to hit. I’d rather have him in the lineup than not, that’s for sure.
- Luke Scott will be evaluated for the start of a rehab assignment. He could be returning shortly.
- Jeff Niemann begins his rehab in Port Charlotte tonight.
- Fernando Rodney holds the TB relievers’ record for twenty-two innings in a row of shutout ball. He could tie Shields for the overall team record of twenty-three scoreless innings in his next outing.
- The return of Scott and Niemann, as well as Longoria will provide the Rays with quality, depth and flexibility, both on the mound and in the offense. That could go a long way in fighting for a hotly-contested playoff spot.
- I know Ryan Roberts hasn’t swung the bat like he wants to, but he sure has played some pretty good defense. If the bat comes around, and you’d think it would, he could be a heck of a pickup for the Rays.