Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays' Shields, bullpen lose momentum in ALCS

J.P. Howell gets a pat on the back from Dioner Navarro after giving up a run-scoring single to David Ortiz in the sixth. The Red Sox got two runs in the inning right after the Rays had tied it.


J.P. Howell gets a pat on the back from Dioner Navarro after giving up a run-scoring single to David Ortiz in the sixth. The Red Sox got two runs in the inning right after the Rays had tied it.

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon has said momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher.

That's why the Rays felt confident when right-hander James Shields was set to take the ball for Saturday's crucial ALCS Game 6; Shields was excited to have a chance to live up to his "Big Game James" moniker and make everyone forget about the stunning collapse Thursday night, when the Rays blew a seven-run lead at Fenway.

But as Maddon said, Shields "was not on the top of his game" in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, giving up nine hits and four runs in just 52/3 innings. And reliever Grant Balfour, stellar throughout the regular season and early in the playoffs, again struggled to hit his spots.

"I was just missing tonight," Shields said. "I felt like I did a good job battling to try to give us a chance to win the game."

But Shields' struggles starting in the second inning when he gave up a leadoff homer to Kevin Youkilis. In the third, Shields walked three batters in an inning for just the second time this season (Aug. 14 at Oakland). Though Shields minimized the damage to just one run, he still couldn't be the stopper he wanted to be.

"There was one thing I didn't do tonight — I didn't keep the lead," Shields said. "(We) did a great job of getting ahead, I gave up a homer run to (Youkilis). We tied it up, and I gave up a home run to (Jason) Varitek. I didn't do a very good job of doing that. And I feel that's when the momentum changed."

Shields was relieved in the sixth after giving up a two-out homer to struggling catcher Varitek and an infield single to Coco Crisp.

J.P. Howell got into a jam when shortstop Jason Bartlett made a throwing error on a Dustin Pedroia grounder, putting runners on first and third. David Ortiz then delivered an RBI single off Howell before the left-hander could end the threat by striking out Youkilis.

Balfour came in with two outs in the seventh and ended up walking two of the three batters he faced. Though he didn't give up a run, Balfour has a 19.29 ERA in the American League Championship Series.

"I was just missing away," Balfour said. "I probably just haven't been locked in on the zone like I probably have been. … I need to be on my spot a little better. … I'm confident in myself and know I can do it. I know it's there. If (I'm needed today), I do I want the ball. I always want the ball."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Rays' Shields, bullpen lose momentum in ALCS 10/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …