Tampa Bay’s James Shields pitched one of the very best games in Rays history Tuesday, but he made the mistake of letting the Orioles score a run. It wasn’t a rally, mind you. It was a run, on a very long, very loud home run to Chris Davis (33).
On second thought, maybe it was a rally. Davis is so hot right now, he’s like a one-man rally. His seventh home run in the last six Orioles games was one of only two Orioles hits, a 433 fit shot to center with two outs in the fourth.
For Shields, it was the one mistake he made. The veteran mainstay of the Rays’rotation struck out 15 Orioles, not only a new career high, but a team record. 15 strikeouts is one thing. But that he did thy while throwing just 107 pitches is simply mind boggling. 70 of those pitches were strikes. Shields walked no one in his complete game performance.
Unfortunately for Shields, he came head-to-head against one of the Orioles MANY scrap-heap life savers of 2012. Miguel Gonzalez (W, 9-4) put an exclamation point on one of the more improbable stories of the year. Cut by the Boston Red Sox this spring, Gonzalez caught GM Dan Duquette‘s eye enough to ink a minor league contract. When he made his big league debut, he propped up a struggling pitching staff, and really helped propel this staff through the dog days of August, into the cooler, yet blazing hot September, and into a playoff berth. Gonzalez did not complete the game, he went 6.1. He wasn’t perfect, walking 2 and giving up a pair of hits. Compared to Shields’ 15 strikesouts, Gonzalez’s 7 looks puny. Yet neither of the hits Gonzalez traveled 433 feet. The 6.1 innings were shutout innings, and it’s a good thing, too.
Brian Mattusz, Darren O’Day, and Jim Johnson completed the shutout, with Johnson picking up save number 51.
7:10 is gametime for Wednesday, as the Orioles and Rays wrap up the regular season. With a win, the Orioles clinch the top wild card spot. With a win and a Yankees loss, the Orioles and Yankees will tie for the AL East lead.
Nothing like beating a great pitcher who’s thrown the game of his life.
Numbers 4-9 in the order: 0/18 with 9K.