Ok, so maybe I was wrong about the Tampa Bay Rays' inexperience.
Just look at the second and third innings for prime examples from one man—Evan Longoria. The rookie third baseman homered to left field in both innings.
I'm not going to lie; I thought the Rays would struggle early in this series, but that certainly wasn't the case. A couple things surprised me about this game, though.
Aside from the red-hot bats of the Rays, the pitching of James Shields was sensational, in my mind. As TBS' PitchTracker technology showed the location of his pitches, I found myself baffled. The White Sox hitters were not only swinging over the top of most pitches, but were also swung at a couple in the dirt.
Save for Shields' hanging breaking ball to Dewayne Wise that resulted in a three-run jack, he was a dominant pitcher.
The Rays got their first-ever playoff victory in style. Back to Longoria for a second, though. We knew how good he could be in the future, but this good this early? The kid is absolutely nuts.
I've never been a fan of what Javier Vasquez brings to the table, but did you see that second inning blast?! Hell, the Trop barely held it.
In the later innings, tempers flared, but I think that only fueled the Rays' bullpen fire. I'm not exactly sure what was going through the head of White Sox' shortstop Orlando Cabrera when he kicked chalk from the batter's box at Rays' reliever Grant Balfour. In any case, Balfour gassed Cabrera on two subsequent pitches to leave the bases loaded.
As good as the Rays played, there are some changes that need to be made. After all, this was a 6-4 victory, the Rays didn't win by the widest of margins.
1) Don't get complacent. If the Rays take this victory to mean too much, they will be in trouble. Great, you're ahead 1-0, but you must still win two games to take the series.
2) Your ace is on the hill for Game Two, get a win. Scott Kazmir, one of the finest young pitchers in the A.L. is on the hill for the Rays. Lo and behold, though, he is facing White Sox veteran Mark Buerhle.
Buerhle is extremely capable of pitching a quality start, but Kazmir has the talent to be lights out. It'll be awfully interesting to see how the offense reacts if Kazmir is wheelin' and dealin'.
3) Someone else has to step up. Honestly?! B.J. "The Future" Upton went 0-for-5 in his first playoff game. That's horrid, people. Longoria isn't going to keep hitting longballs at some astronomical rate, so the other big sticks need to step up.
There was just one combined hit between the trio of Upton, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Floyd. Something has got to change.