Tampa Bay’s season is officially over after tonight’s ball game, but it was effectively over Monday evening when the Athletics took over the final wild card slot. James Shields didn’t get the memo. Last night, he pitched at the highest level of the season.
The right hander, who has been terrific since the trade deadline at four P.M. on July 31st, whiffed a career-high, and franchise record, fifteen batters last night as he allowed only one run on two hits to the playoff bound Baltimore Orioles. Along the way, he gave Baltimore no full passes, but fell victim to a single, solo long ball off the bat of Chris Davis. Sadly, the Rays couldn’t match the O’s output, and Shields and the Rays fell, 1-0.
Tonight, the Rays will close out the season with Jeremy Hellickson on the hill. My bet is that Tampa Bay will try to play spoiler, and make the Orioles play in the wild card play-in game. Hellickson will be matched against Chris Tillman, 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA over his last ten outings.
- Since the trade deadline on July 31st, Shields was 7-3, with eighty-nine strikeouts and only fourteen walks, allowing just fifty-two hits over 90.1 innings. Forget “Complete Game James”, how about “Top Shelf Shields”? He’s a bulldog, a winner, and hopefully, somehow, will be with the Rays for some time.
- Tampa Bay was shut out yet again. By my count, eleven times this season. You never have a chance to win when you’re shut out. It’s a credit to the Rays’ staff that they continually took the ball and gave great performances over the season. Pitching doesn’t always win, but it usually does. Look for the team to be strong again next season. And look for them to make some moves to provide more offense next season.