ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Betting on baseball is a foolish proposition. Having spent a few summer weekends in Vegas and returned with just enough money to pay for a cab, I can attest to this fact.
But tonight had all the signs of trouble. The red-hot Red Sox had cooled their jets with a day off. The Rays had the surprisingly good James Shields on the mound, a guy who has been lights out at home.
By now you’ve heard what happened. Shields went the distance in a 4-0 victory. Somehow he has three shutouts this season. That’s more than 23 teams. After averaging 9.2 runs in their previous nine games with an OPS of .966, the Sox returned to earth.
The Sox, having won nine straight and 14 of 18 prior to tonight, weren’t exactly consumed with dread afterward.
“It’s going to happen,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “We’re not going to start to worry about one game.”
The Sox wasted a great performance from Tim Wakefield. He threw 119 pitches (his most since 2003) and allowed one earned run over seven innings. The knuckleball was dancing around and the Rays only hit it hard twice. Once was good enough as Justin Ruggiano homered.
The Tommy Hottovy Era ran into its first speed bump as he allowed two runs. Adrian Gonzalez had his RBI streak snapped at nine games.
What, did you think they weren’t going to lose again?
Josh Beckett vs. Jeremy Hellickson tomorrow. Come back for more.