Results tagged ‘ James Shields ’

One Profane Man

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Yesterday afternoon, the Twins and Red Sox hooked up for a pretty intense duel, with the Sox coming out on top 3-1.  Things really got interesting in the seventh inning, for both clubs:

Top: With the Sox batting, a close play at the plate from Kubel (a great throw) to Redmond was called “safe” for the Sox when replays seemed to show that he was actually out.  Redmond popped up and did his best “Yogi Berra after Jackie Robinson steals home” impersonation.  He was immediately run from the game (which hurt the Twins by losing the DH and thus not pinch hitting for Matt Tolbert in the game’s key moment an inning later) and closely followed by manager Ron Gardenhire.

Bottom: Up until the seventh inning, Josh Beckett had been absolutely mowing down the Twins’ batters (besides the one Joe Crede bomb).  Yet, throughout the game I noticed that he was incredibly angry and often (even after a 1-2-3 inning) would stomp off the mound uttering terrible profanities.  I never really got the feeling that he was being squeezed at the plate, but obviously he thought differently.  Thus, in the seventh, a very close pitch was called a ball and Beckett immediately told the umpire that he could “go have carnal relations with himself” (to put it nicely).  Boy, was Beckett ever hot, almost throwing a temper tantrum right on the mound!  Within minutes, both Jason Varitek and Terry Francona were joining Gardy and Red Dog in the bowels of the Dome.  Why Beckett didn’t get the old heave-ho as well is completely beyond me.  Personally, I lost some respect for him for that little tirade.  I have rarely seen a pitcher get so angry out on the mound (especially when dominating the opposing team) and it makes Beckett seem like just a hot-headed jerk who happens to have some nasty stuff.

All in all, though, a sweep with the Sox isn’t the end of the world by any means.  The real test now will be going into Tampa Bay and trying to play just as tough.  Much like last year, the Twins won’t become a legit contender unless they can even just play below-average (not God-awful) ball on the road.

Notes:

-Joe Crede is coming around.  His defense alone is darn near enough to keep him in the lineup every game, especially considering the struggles of Brian Buscher, while his bat is showing good pop.

-Glen Perkins may not have a job when he gets healthy.  Anthony Swarzak has been VERY impressive in both his starts in the majors so far.

Preview (24-25, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (2-5, 6.32) vs. James Shields (3-4, 3.63).

Hit ‘Em Where They…Are

morneaulinedrive.jpgThe Twins’ 7-1 loss last night to the Tampa Bay Rays was epitomized in the bottom of the seventh inning.  With two runners on and two out and the Twins trying to claw their way back into the game, Justin Morneau hit a scalding liner to center field…right into the glove of B.J. Upton.  The Twins were hitting liners all over the Dome, but they were all right towards a Tampa Bay defender.

Of course, Scott Baker (6 IP, 4 ER) didn’t help matters, as he once again forced our batters to have to come from behind if a win would have been in the cards.  Then, as usual, the bullpen gave up a few moonshots to put the game completely out of reach.  When R.A. Dickey knuckleball doesn’t “knuckle”, it gets hit a Looooooooong way (Carlos Pena showed us that in the late innings).

Preview (9-11, 4th, 2.5 GB DET): James Shields (2-2, 3.67) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-4, 7.06). Cisco really needs to get in the win column before it starts to get too depressing.  Shields is generally tough, but he has struggled mightily against the Twins in the past few years.

World Series Game Two: A Nice “Shield”

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Although I admit I did not watch Game Two of the World Series from first pitch to last-I mostly tuned in and out while doing other household tasks-the thing that caught my eye the most was the solid pitching of Rays starting pitcher James “Big Game” Shields, who held a crafty Philadelphia Phillies lineup to zero runs over five and two-thirds innings.

Shields’ pitching performance may not be the stuff that legends (Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, etc.) are made of, but it is something the Rays have not seen since the inception of the franchise.  To this day, Rolando Arrojo either holds or is dangerously close to holding nearly all of the key Rays franchise pitching records.  Point being, the Rays have never, in the history of their organization, had a shut-down pitcher that could be counted on to win a game, but throughout this postseason James Shields has been exactly that.

After today’s travel day, the Series will continue on Saturday night in Philadelphia (barring the inclement weather that is forecast).  I will preview that matchup later.
 

World Series Game Two Preview: Digging Themselves A Hole

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Although before last night’s opening game of the World Series I predicted that Tampa Bay would beat Philadelphia’s ace Cole Hamels, I knew that there was a pretty good possibility that Hamels would still win, as I was just playing a momentum-based hunch.  However, now down 1-0 in the Series on their home turf, Game Two of the WS tonight is almost a must-win game for the Rays, as they don’t want to dig themselves too deep of a whole and be forced to fight their way out of it while in Philly.

Tonight’s starters (with their 2008 postseason stats) are James Shields (TB, RHP, 2-0, 19.1 IP, 3.72 ERA) vs. Brett Myers (PHI, RHP, 2-0, 12 IP, 5.25 ERA).  Shields has been pretty dominant this postseason, while Myers can be gotten to, so I think this series has a very good chance of being evened up heading into Citizen’s Bank Park on Saturday.

ALCS Predictions: The New Postseason Kings

PapiTwin.jpgHow quickly have we forgotten 2004 and 2007?  After watching the media coverage of the ALCS that begins on Friday night in Tampa Bay, there has been almost an overwhelming consensus that the upstart Rays will dethrone the defending-champion Red Sox and reach the first World Series in franchise history (of course, every Ray victory has some sort of historical significance these days!).  Not so fast, people…

Let’s look at this series a game at a time.  The series opens in Tropicana Field, where the Rays have been nearly a completely different than they are at home, but who really thinks the Rays will win both of those first two home games against the playoff-savvy Sox?  Game 1 pits Daisuke Matsuzaka (18-3, 2.90) against James Shields (14-8, 3.56), while Game 2 is Josh Beckett (12-10, 4.03) vs. Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.49).  I’d actually favor the Sox in both games, but let’s say (for home-field advantage sake) that the series is even when it moves back into Fenway.

This is where things are sure to get interesting, as it is the classic case of “postseason aura” (which the Red Sox have finally wrestled away from the Yankees) vs. “young team that isn’t intimidated” (the Rays have never experienced this situation before, so how can they be too overwhelmed?).  In that scenario, however, I will take the most experienced team any day of the week.  Although the pitching matchups in Game Three, Jon Lester (16-6, 3.21) vs. Matt Garza (11-9, 3.70), and Game Four, Tim Wakefield (10-11, 4.13) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (13-9, 4.38), perhaps swing a little bit toward the Rays (at least compared to the first two games), I’ll still take the experienced hurlers over the green ones.  Even if the series is 2-2 after four games, the pitching matchups will be who has the best bullpen, and what starters can come back effectively on short rest.  All four Sox starters are battle-tested, while all the Rays are first-timers.  As a Twins fan, I would not feel too confident on a guy like Matt Garza coming back in a game seven facing, say, Tim Wakefield.

Offensively both clubs can score runs.  In fact, I think the only way Tampa Bay can win this series is if they completely outscore the BoSox, and by a large margin at that.  However, the Boston lineup has developed a habit of producing in the clutch, with guys like David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, and some guy you would never expect (Jedd Lowrie?!) providing the back-breaking hits to the opposition.  I thought that the departure of Manny Ramirez would really hurt Boston come postseason time, but Manny’s replacement, Jason Bay, has performed admirably after escaping Pittsburgh.

My “official” prediction, then, is for Boston to defeat Tampa Bay in six games.  The Rays have had a great ride, but I think that the playoff experience of nearly every Boston player will be too much for the scrappy Rays to overcome.  However, I would expect to see many close, hard-fought games.  Whereas the Yankees of old developed their “mystic and aura” in the playoffs by crushing opponents, the Red Sox have won in the playoffs by getting the late-inning clutch hits.

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