A Swing and a Sweep

The Rays went 0–for–13 with runners in scoring position.

They left 11 men on base, as opposed to the Royals’ three.

James Shields received very little run support through his first seven innings.

Yet the Rays managed to win today’s game 3–2 and complete the sweep — their first sweep of 2009.

The victory can be attributed primarily to three men: Shields, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton.

Shields picked up the victory, allowing only a two–run double to Billy Butler in eight innings of work. He walked nobody and struck out eight Royals.

Crawford, in addition to his 34th stolen base, hit his fourth home run of the year to cut the Rays’ deficit to 2–1 in inning number seven.

And then there’s B.J. With two outs in the eighth inning, he smashed the first pitch more than halfway up into the left field seats to give his team the lead. This homestand was his turning point. His batting average jumped up to .218, and his third home run of the season single–handedly won a game. Upton should now be feared once again.

We can’t forget Ben Zobrist, who stole his sixth base of the season; Joe Dillon, who picked up three hits; or Michel Hernandez, who scored on the Upton home run.

Nor should we forget former Royal J.P. Howell. He saved the game 1–2–3 against the 3–4–5 hitters. Despite his great stats, he has had trouble late in close games. Thankfully, this was 2008 Howell revisited. He did an incredible job. So did Matt Joyce catching Butler’s deep fly ball to start that ninth inning.

So now it’s off to New York, where men become legends and rats become roadkill. The Rays performed admirably in the last two series, so they better not screw it up now. Until next time, go Rays.

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