It’s an old sports journalist cliche that certain teams just find ways to win. It’s a lazy and dumb way of describing things, but sometimes it can just seem so accurate. Just like most of the games that the Rays have played this season, considering all they lost in the offseason and the early going of this year, they didn’t have much business winning it, yet with one swing in the bottom of the ninth that’s exactly what they did by the score 3-2.

Anatomy Of A Game Winning Home Run

After giving up a lead off single to American League Player of the Week Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton came up to the plate.

Here’s how Jon Rauch reacted:

  1. Throws a pickoff throw to first.
  2. Throws a pickoff throw to first.
  3. Gets a called strike.
  4. Gets taken deep to left center field.

It’s almost fitting that a team which seems so preoccupied with keeping base runners active as a means of distracting pitchers and forcing them to make mistakes, is harshly bitten after their closer throws two pickoff attempts in a row to first base.

According to Rauch: “I screwed up.”

Biggest Play Of The Game

Guess.

Most Important Player Of The Game

When a game is won on a single play, it’s fairly obvious that the most important player of the game will be the one that orchestrated it. And that of course was B.J. Upton who single handedly increased his team’s win probability by .612. The next closest player was the previously maligned Jo-Jo Reyes who added .250 to his team’s probability of winning.

Biggest Opportunity Missed

With one out and two on in the fourth inning, David Cooper worked the count to three and one before taking a strike, fouling off two more and then popping one up in the infield that Elliot Johnson caught.

Which also brings us to . . .

The Aggravating Things That John Farrell Did

Of course, it couldn’t be a Toronto Blue Jays game without at least one questionable running decision. In the top of the eighth, Adam Lind got on base with a walk and was then caught stealing on a 2-2 pitch to Juan Rivera with one out. It wasn’t exactly the safest time to send a player not known for his running ability. The score was 2-1 at the time, and it seems to me anyway that running into outs isn’t necessarily the best strategy with that scoreline.

I’m sure that there were some lineups thrown together during the 2008 season when Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench were featured far too prominently than they should have, but tonight’s one through nine is at the very least one of the ugliest that I can remember. It’s not so much John Farrell’s fault. I mean it’s not like he’s been handed fine Italian marble to sculpt his batting order out of, but anytime Corey Patterson bats second, I will reserve the right to use snark.

It wasn’t exactly an earth shattering move, but I feel as though Farrell pulled Jo-Jo Reyes at exactly the right time.

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

Yunel Escobar has hit the second most ground balls and the second least amount of fly balls in the league. Tonight, he didn’t get a hit, but walked twice.

Elliot Johnson stole the first base of his Major League career tonight. In 2008, it was Johnson who ran home in a Spring Training game and instead of sliding toward the plate, he purposely collided with Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking his wrist. Joe Girardi had a conniption.

The last time Edwin Encarnacion had two extra base hits in a single game was April 22nd against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Adam Lind’s two for four performance tonight means he has 13 hits in his last 29 at bats. That includes 9 singles and four home runs.

Shutdowns/Meltdowns

Shawn Camp’s clean seventh and Mark Rzepczynski’s scoreless eighth earned both relievers an official shutdown, but as you might imagine, Jon Rauch’s blown save in the ninth counted as a massive meltdown.

Stray Observations Of The Game

Apparently, the Tampa Bay Lightning had all of their fans wear blue t-shirts at tonight’s playoff game. It looked as though the Rays did the same thing.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen a harder hit single in my life than the one that Corey Patterson smashed to right field in the first inning. How did that not turn into extra bases?

I watched Major League last night, and so the first pitch of Brandon Gomes career, hard, up and in on John McDonald reminded me a lot of Ricky Vaughan.

You’d have to think that Jo-Jo Reyes saved his job in the rotation which ahead of tonight’s game sounded as though it was on the line.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Frank Francisco takes over the closer role based solely on Rauch’s performance tonight.

I saw that Brett Wallace hit a home run tonight. Remember when the Blue Jays traded him to the Houston Astros for Anthony Gose. The team’s willingness to move him makes me wonder that David Cooper’s time in the starting lineup may have as much to do with a trade showcase as it does anything else.