A signature Rays win.

• Shields didn’t get rattled when a parade of Angels hitters made good contact early, including a solo homerun by Vladimir Guerrero in the 2nd inning and a run-scoring double by Garrett Anderson in the 4th.

• Of several stellar defensive plays that helped Shields keep it close — including a leaping-the-wall catch by rightfielder Gabe Gross and, even better, this run-saving play by Upton: After a sharp bass hit, the centerfielder charged the ball and made a laser throw home to catcher Dionner Navarro, who tagged out the runner.

• Of timely hitting, the best of which was third baseman Willy Aybar’s two-out single in the bottom of the 8th, which gave the Rays a 4-2 lead. Aybar’s been so hot at the plate that the loss of rookie third baseman Evan Longoria to injury (until probably early September) has not hurt too much.

• Of good relief pitching. Dan Wheeler, who relieved Shields in the 9th, retired the Angels 1-2-3, earning the save.

I backed Upton in a blog post yesterday, saying he wasn’t dogging it near as badly as it appeared. (He'd been benched twice by Maddon for lack of hustle, and was tagged out at second on Monday night after jogging for a double.)

I was glad to see his remarkable throwout at home plate, but even more gratified at the crowd’s reaction: They gave him a standing O and an extended ovation — a sing of forgiveness after booing him the night before.

If the Rays make the postseason, they can point to last night’s 4-2 win over the Angels as emblematic of how and why.

They endured:

• An opposing pitcher, Ervin Santana, who was ablaze, and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

• A shaky start by starter James Shields; the Angels lineup smacked him around early.

• An absolutely unconscionable call by umpire Jerry Meals at first base that killed a rally. B.J. Upton, who’s had a tough couple of weeks, was the victim.

• The ejection of manager Joe Maddon (after arguing that abysmal call).

• And some other stuff that doesn’t readily come to mind.

For more than two-thirds of the game, it looked as if the Rays would end up putting this one in the loss column — not the end of the world, because the Angels are one of the best teams in baseball — but they kept their composure and gritted out a win. Because:


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Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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