The Narrative: Rookie pitcher Matt Moore answers the call and goes seven scoreless innings against arguably the best hitting team in baseball. And platoon catchers aren’t so bad either. The Tampa Bay Rays are a team of destiny.
Anatomy Of A Platoon Catcher Playing The Hero
In the third inning, with the score already 3-0 for Tampa Bay, catcher Kelly Shoppach came up to the plate with Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria on base.
Shoppach swung at the very first pitch he saw, a four seam fastball just outside the strike zone. He extended and sent it over the fence to make it 6-0.
His next at bat came in the fifth inning with Johnny Damon on first base after reaching on an error. This time, Shoppach saw seven pitches from C.J. Wilson.
And on the seventh pitch, he mashed . . . another tater. This time, the home run ball was hit on a slider in the middle of the strike zone. Wilson made a mistake on the fourth pitch of the sequence and Shoppach was a little bit behind on it, fouling it off. It’s strange to me that Wilson would then proceed to throw three straight sliders to let Shoppach read the timing correctly before delivering his second home run of the game.
The Most Important Play Of The Game
After Ben Zobrist was hit by a pitch from C.J. Wilson, Johnny Damon put the first runs on the board and the only ones that were necessary thanks to his home run which increased the probability of his team winning by 14.1% of the game.
Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
With only two hits and two walks over the course of the entire game, the Rangers offense didn’t have a single threatening inning. The closest to a big disappointment for Texas occurred in the fourth inning when Michael Young flied out to center field after Josh Hamilton led off the inning with a double.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Josh Hamilton was the only Rangers hitter to collect a hit against the Rays, going two for four, with the double that was previously mentioned. His 3.5% WPA was the only positive win probability from the Texas lineup today.
The Aggravating Thing That The Managers Did
With such a lopsided score, it was difficult for either Joe Maddon or Ron Washington to do anything that would mess things up too badly. However, I do wonder why Washington would bring in Matt Harrison to pitch two thirds of an inning when he could very possibly get the call in Game Four considering the meatballs that C.J. Wilson was tossing at points today.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
Two hits. The Texas Rangers had two hits and only got on base four times tonight.
Matt Moore is the youngest pitcher ever to start Game One of a playoff series. He collected six swinging strikes today.
Mike Napoli had the third highest OPS in the American League against left handed pitching this season. He went zero for three today, striking out twice.
The Rangers had the lowest strikeout rate in the league this year.
This is the third straight playoff game that the Rays have won in Arlington. They’re undefeated in playoff games in Texas.
Carefully Selected Quote Cliche Of The Game
From Baseball Prospectus, tonight I’ll go with the Rangers perspective:
It was an uphill battle from the get-go. It’s very frustrating, because we know we can play better. It’s hard to stay positive.
Stray Observations Of The Game
Buck Maritnez! Really? I just finished a season of watching Toronto Blue Jays baseball and listening to his inane comments and complete and utter inability to be quiet for at least ten seconds on a broadcast. Saying I was disappointed to see him in the broadcast booth is an understatement.
Kelly Shoppach = Cody Ross + many pounds.
I wrote earlier about how the Rays are the team that neutral observers will love to cheer for, and Matt Moore defines that classification. It’s almost impossible to believe that this was his second career start. And this is his pitching line from that start: 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K.
The stands at The Ballpark In Arlington were empty pretty fast. Tampa Bay probably felt as though they were playing at home later in the game.
Evan Longoria needs his own television channel during games so that we can just watch him play defense every inning. Brilliant.
When asked what it’s like to face Matt Moore, Ron Washington said, “It’s incredibly hard.”
Matt Moore is one heck of an actor: