pic courtesy MySA
Every time Chip slides I cringe a little. However, his play to break for home on a wild pitch in the 2nd was the type of great instinctual base running you expect out of the wily vet, regardless of age. Also, Tommy going seven innings with only 2 runs never hurts. He's really managed to settle in for the season and place his pitches. The key was going strike one on batters 20/28 times, which really let him control each AB to his advantage.
The MVP of the game was Marteeeeeeeen Prado. He went 2/4, 3 runs, 1 walk, with a double and a homer. On a day where Michael Bourn didn't have his best luck at the plate, Prado stepped in and made sure that he scored every time he got on base. The first AB was one of his best, as he aggressively went after a double on a base hit to left, and Freeman followed up with a first pitch knock up the middle to score him. Before the fans could sit down to enjoy the game at the Trop, we had the lead 1-0.
Shields was good, but not great. He held things together after giving up the lead to the Braves in the first two innings, and by the 3rd we were tied 2-2. However, the 5th inning proved to be his undoing. After getting 2 easy outs, the Braves started a slow rally with a Prado walk. Then, he got to second on a pickoff error by Shields. Next, Freeman doubled and knocked in Martin. Uggla walks, Bmac singles, Freeman scores, and all of a sudden we're up 4-2. All of that happening with 2 outs. You could tell that it completely demoralized the crowd and the Rays. The dagger came in the 7th when Prado went yard off of Howell, who came in for relief. Martin took him to his 6th pitch in the AB before smashing it over the left field fences. The mass exodus for the parking lot started at that point for the Rays fans.
Venters came in for relief in the 8th and still struggled. He's having a few issues, but none of them are disastrous. Yet. The problem was he plunked a batter and then threw one to the backstop, so the guy got an easy double without hitting the ball. A single scored him later, because when you give guys free bags, they score. However, he stopped the bleeding and we ended up winning 5-3 anyway, so no big deal there. Kimbrel shut the door on the Rays in 3 up 3 down fashion, but he got no strikeouts. Rare for the K-Crab, but just as effective.
This afternoon, we put our hard-luck-loser Delgado up against some scrub the Rays brought up from AAA to cover an injury. Let's get Delgado a win, guys. He needs the confidence!