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Wrapping up the opener

Posted Sep 13, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Sep 13, 2008 at 05:27 PM

NEW YORK—Some thoughts from the principals on Game 1 of today’s doubleheader:

James Shields had been 0-6 in seven previous starts against the Yankees, so to say he was pleased to get a win today wouldn’t quite cover it.

“It’s a monkey off my back,” he said. “I knew today I needed to go deep in the game and help our bullpen out for the second game. I pitched pretty well today.”

The only puzzling moment for him was Jose Molina’s reaction to being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning. The catcher gave Shields a staredown before getting a talking-to from Carlos Pena. It didn’t do the trick, as Molina went far out of the baseline on a grounder to second and kicked his leg out at a leaping Jason Bartlett on the slide. He was called out and the Rays were awarded a double play on interference.

“I was surprised,” Shields said. “There’s no way I’m hitting a guy up 7-0 with an 0-2 count. I’m throwing a cutter. If I’m going to hit a guy, it’s going to be with a fastball, there’s no doubt about it. I didn’t hit him on purpose; I just missed my spot. He wasn’t too happy with the pitch before, the cutter that I threw 0-1 that the umpire called a strike and was definitely a strike. I think his emotions kind of got to him a little bit, but that’s all right, it’s part of the game.”

* As for the Rays having switch-hitters Ben Zobrist and Fernando Perez bat right-handed against the righty Mike Mussina, that was Joe Maddon’s brainchild. He presented it to the pair during the Boston series as a condition that they would play if they agreed to do it, and obviously both agreed. The Rays had managed four runs off Mussina in 18 1/3 innings in three previous starts this year—all Tampa Bay losses—so they loaded up as right-handed as they could, including the switch-hitters.

“This guy’s had a tremendous year and he’s beat us up – we’ve looked bad against him,” said Maddon. “Why continue to do the same thing? It’s the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Let’s try something different.”

* Evan Longoria’s return to the lineup after more than a month on the sideline was a smashing success, with a couple of hits and a great inning-ending play in the sixth. He had no complaints following the game and will be available to pinch-hit this evening.

“It felt good,” said Longoria. “My timing is obviously a little off. There was a couple at-bats where maybe if I’m right I might hit the ball a little harder or maybe somewhere they’re not, but I can’t complain. For the first day back, I felt as good as I expected and more.”

Reader Comments

Por (Kevin) on September 13, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Awesome at bats against a tough change of speed excellent control Mussina.  Excellent defense, smart baserunning, awsome Shields.  A can’t miss combination.

Go Rays.

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Por (Terry Graham) on September 14, 2008 (Suggest removal)

The Rays missed the perfect opportunity to debut Price. With a 7 run lead he should have replaced Shields after the 7th inning.

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