Rays vs. Rangers: James Shields and 4 Consequences of His Poor Game 2 Start
James Shields had a golden opportunity to help his team take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
He was unable to deliver in Game 2, losing 8-6 to the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
A wild and crazy fourth inning did Shields in. In the frame he hit two batters and uncorked two wild pitches.
Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley didn't do him any favors by blowing a call, but Shields still had plenty of opportunities to close out the inning—and didn't.
His poor outing, while not completely devastating to the Rays, has nonetheless raised some concern about his ability to pitch well in the postseason.
It also has had some consequences that may alter the outcome of this series.
The Rangers Now Have Momentum
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
After being completely dominated by Rays rookie Matt Moore in Game 1, the Rangers appeared to be in trouble.
With the unproven Derek Holland on the mound against Cy Young candidate Shields, the Rays seemingly had the advantage in the pitching matchup.
The Rangers who had the AL's best offense during the regular season had been held scoreless for 12 innings until Shield's tumultuous fourth inning.
It was looking like Rays pitching would neutralize their hitters, but now they know that if they grind out at bats, that they can score runs.
Going into Game 3 at Tropicana Field, the Rangers have to feel confident that they can do the same against David Price and Jeremy Hellickson.
The Rays were playing extremely good baseball, and were still riding the wave of their dramatic end to the regular season.
Now the Rangers have slowed down the Tampa Bay train some.
The Rangers Keep Home Field Advantage
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Rangers can now afford to drop a game in St. Petersburg, knowing that they can come home for a potential Game 5.
Neither team had won a home postseason game against each other dating back to last seasons ALDS.
But now the Rangers have a home win under their belt, and the fans in Arlington are a great crowd to play in front of.
They would also face Shields again in Game 5 with the knowledge that he had been roughed up there once already.
This knowledge may allow them to play loose in Games 3 and 4 at Tropicana Field, where they are 3-0 in the postseason.
He May Have Forced Joe Maddon's Hand
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Joe Maddon has stated that Matt Moore would not start again in the ALDS.
However, since Moore pitched so well, and Shields so poorly, he could change his mind.
Even though Shields was the main horse in the Rays rotation this season, the postseason is a whole different ball game.
Shields now has two bad outings against the Rangers in postseason play, and Maddon may prefer to line up Shields for a potential Game 1 ALCS start now.
If the Rangers take a game at Tropicana Field and send the series back to Texas, no one would blame him for starting the pitcher who actually excelled there the first go around.
But that would mean asking a rookie pitcher with only 16 innings of MLB experience to again pitch lights out.
Moore is certainly capable of it, but you can only roll the dice so many times before you crap out.
If his confidence in Shields has wavered at all, he may not have a choice.
The Bullpen Picture Is Now Murky
Charles Sonnenblick/Getty Images
Kyle Farnsworth is still dealing with a sore elbow and may not be available this series.
Even if he is, it is questionable how effective he'll be.
Moore would presumably be available to pitch out of the pen in Game 4 if fellow rookie Jeremy Hellickson ran into trouble.
But if Maddon is considering using Moore in a Game 5, then the bullpen picture for the Rays is a little less stable.
Wade Davis would have to play a more prominent role, as would Juan Cruz and Jake McGee.
Maddon is very good at managing his relief pitchers, and putting them in good situations to succeed.
However, having Moore as a potential late inning weapon later in the series is something the Rays could really use right now.