It was supposed to be a matchup of strikeout artists when Tampa Bay, featuring James Shields, and Seattle, with Felix Hernandez, faced off on Thursday night.
It didn't quite work out that way.
The Mariners had four homers - two by rookie Carlos Peguero, who had struck out 22 times in his previous 59 at-bats - and put together a five-run second inning to tag Shields for a seven earned runs in an 8-2 loss.
"That one I did not see coming," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "[Shields has] been so money. The Mariners are a nice ball club, but they're not known right now for that kind of outburst." (See Joe, that's how they get you - they're sneaky, don't score runs against the other teams, and then, when you're lulled . . . boom! Baseball rule No. 1: Don't get lulled.)
As for Hernandez, he threw 97 pitches, struck out 11, took a shutout into the sixth, and gave up five hits in seven innings. Rays catcher and wit Kelly Shoppach was able to locate the upside in the loss: "We knocked him out of the game after seven innings and 11 strikeouts."
On the plus side for Tampa Bay, Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson was honored as both the AL rookie of the month and AL pitcher of the month for May on Thursday. (Though the goodness could have a short shelf-life - Hellickson is the first rookie to double up on the award since lefty Dontrelle Willis did it in his first season with the Florida Marlins in 2003. These days, the D-Train plies his trade in triple-A.)
Among the nine teams mentioned in a Los Angeles Times story as being in violation of the MLB debt service rules are three from the AL: the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Detroit Tigers. Of those, the Rangers (bankrupt) and Orioles (bad) can be filed under "usual suspects," but it's bit of a surprise to see the Tigers there. Guess sentiment over that Olde English D can't outweigh low ticket sales and high overhead.
Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge was placed on the disabled list with mononucleosis. He hit .211 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 52 games.
Detroit skipper Jim Leyland said he was unsure if Inge's illness had affected his play. "I don't think he's been himself for awhile, but I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not. I don't really understand."
In other medical news: Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka will have Tommy John elbow surgery and be out up to a year.