ST. PETERSBURG -- Even before this American League Division Series started, some wondered why Rays manager Joe Maddon opted for James Shields to pitch Game 2 instead of Matt Garza, who had a significantly better regular season.
After Tampa Bay lost Game 1 -- putting Shields in a near must-win predicament on Thursday -- there was even more scrutiny with that particular decision.
So who better than Maddon to explain why Shields (13-15, 5.18 ERA) got the nod in Game 2 while Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA) will go in Game 3 on Saturday in Texas?
"Well, there's a lot of things to look at," said Maddon. "I mean, obviously on the surface you might think to go Garza here, but part of it is just the home and road kind of a situation. We feel Shields in this ballpark, we like him here, possibly a little bit more than in Texas, and vice versa with Garza."
At Tropicana Field in his career (including the postseason), Shields is 33-23 with a 3.57 ERA in 82 starts. On the road, he is 25-30 with a 5.00 ERA. This season, Shields was 5-7 with a 4.54 ERA at home, and 8-8 with a 5.82 ERA on the road. In his career at Texas, Shields is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in three starts.
In Garza's career at Tropicana Field (including the postseason), he is 22-20 with a 3.64 ERA. On the road, he is 22-25 with a 4.30 ERA. This season, Garza was 8-2 with a 3.51 ERA at home and 7-8 with a 4.27 ERA on the road. In five career starts in Texas, Garza is 2-3 with a 6.04 ERA.
"I know everybody is looking at Shields' on the surface numbers, but if you dig below the surface a bit, I mean, actually it comes down to the fact that this guy has been slightly unlucky this year regarding balls put in play," Maddon said.
Shields has given up 34 home runs this season.
"His walk to strikeout ratio is very good," Maddon said. "Of course, he's given up the home run, and you have to consider that, also. Although they hit some homers here yesterday, Texas is possibly a little bit more homer friendly ballpark than ours. So there's a lot of under the surface kind of things. It's kind of like a freakonomics look at how we're doing things here with having Shieldsy pitching today versus Garza.
"Again, surface stuff, you would definitely look at it in another direction. We tend to look below the surface sometimes, and so we chose to go with Shields today."
There were 174 home runs hit at Rangers Ballpark this season, vs. 162 at Tropicana Field.
Maddon backs extended instant replay
ST. PETERSBURG -- By no means is Rays manager Joe Maddon blaming home-plate umpire Tim Welke for what he thinks was a key missed call in Game 1 of his team's 5-1 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday. Instead, what it emphasizes to Maddon is just how much there needs to be some form of instant replay.
When he watched the Yankees' Greg Golson make a catch in the ninth inning against the Twins in Game 1 of that American League Division Series later on Wednesday, only to have it be ruled a trap, Maddon was even more confident that a replay system is a matter of when and not if.
In fact, Maddon sounds confident that there will be some replay system instituted as early as 2011. Under current rules, the only play that can be reviewed by replay is a ball that is or isn't a home run.
In the first inning of Game 1, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena informed Welke that he was grazed on the hand by a 2-1 pitch from Cliff Lee. Only after the hitter said something did Welke point to Pena and rule it a foul ball.
The pitch likely would have been called a ball had Pena not told Welke he was hit.
"Yeah, obviously these kind of calls seem to have gone against us lately," said Maddon. "I do believe this: I believe it speaks to the point of the fact that you're going to see more discussion and eventually the implementation of more instant replay in our game."
The call on Pena served as proof to Maddon that such a system should not only be in place for the late innings.
"I had heard things regarding the point that maybe just have these replays considered later in the game," Maddon said. "But as you could see in that moment, possibly the seminal moment occurred in the first inning of that game yesterday, and it's not a superfluous moment. It happens in the first inning, it can have a tremendous impact on the game, so you don't have to wait for the seventh eighth or ninth inning to utilize or implement more instant replay. I think it opens up this discussion.
The one thing everyone at Tropicana Field seemed to hear on the Pena pitch was some type of noise.
"Carlos told me it did [hit him]," Maddon said. "Carlos had no reason to lie to me at that point. He told me on the field; he told me afterward. He's wearing those gloves. You remember last year he was hit by a pitch by [CC] Sabathia later in the season that broke his finger, so he's been wearing these protective gloves that are a little bit more padded, and it did hit off the padding on that glove.
"And furthermore, I'm watching the Yankees game in the ninth inning last night on that catch [made by] Golson, and all of a sudden if [Jim] Thome walks up and hits a two run homer, oh my goodness, all hell is going to break loose at that point."
Thome made an out to end the game, ending any chance of a controversy that could have been for the ages.
"I just think, again, those two plays yesterday in particular ... are going to speed up, expedite the discussion," Maddon said. "I think you're going to see something in the near future, possibly even in the next season. I'm sure it's going to be well thought out. I don't know exactly about the implementation, but I do believe that moment yesterday with thoughts of what happened to the Yankees yesterday kind of speaks to the point where we have to take advantage of technology in a little bit more detailed manner."