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Huff Strikes Back

Yes, Devil Rays fans, Aubrey Huff got the best of you tonight.

When Huff stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning against struggling Rays reliever Brian Stokes, I have to admit I had the feeling Huff might hit a walkoff. We've all seen it from Huff in the past when he was wearing a Devil Rays uniform. And veteran hitters -- which Huff is -- can smell a lack of confidence in a pitcher when they enter the batter's box.

And Huff went the other way on Stokes' 1-1 delivery, an pitch -- definitely elevated -- that caught just too much of the outside half of the plate.

"That's all I had when I hit it," Huff said. "I didn't know I had gotten enough of it. The ball hasn't been carrying well that much this year. I was hoping I got enough."

Huff had some kind words for Rays RHP James Shields, who pitched the best game of his career Wednesday night, saying that the 25-year-old was "dealing" all night.

"I've seen him come up in Tampa and it seems to me he's throwing his changeup for a strike more," Huff said. "He's not throwing his fastball down the middle like he did as he was younger. It seems like with him, he's painting the outside, inside, outside changeup. He's got a plus changeup. Honestly, it's probably one of the best 10 percent in the league, I think. When he's throwing that for strikes and working both sides of the plate, he's real tough."

Ironically enough both Shields and Rays manager Joe Maddon said Shields didn't throw his changeup as much Wednesday, relying heavily on his low-90s fastball. Shields said he threw maybe less than 10 changeups all game. Maybe that made the pitch even more valuable.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:31am]


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