BJ Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a homerun in the first inning during the game against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Charles Sonnenblick/Getty Images)
When your center fielder hits three home runs, you're usually going to win.
When your pitcher throws a two-hit shutout, you're usually going to win.
Okay, when your pitcher throws a two-hit shutout, you're always going to win. It's a shutout. That's why the call it a shutout. But sometime a writer just can't resist parallel construction, just as sometimes even a good team can't resist the combined exceptional talents of a really good pitcher and a center fielder with occasional big-time power.
Upton got started early; with Roy Oswalt starting for the Rangers, Upton led off the bottom of the first inning with a blast over the wall in right-center field. In the fourth, with Oswalt already out of the game and the Rays ahead 4-0, Upton hit another leadoff homer, this time off Martin Perez. And in the sixth inning, Upton again homered against Perez, making the score 6-0.
In the eighth, Upton failed to tie the major-league record for homers in one game, instead grounding out to shortstop. Still, it was a game to remember for both Upton and Shields, who gave up just two hits and zero walks, while striking out eight Rangers. With their win, the Rays managed to stay just two games behind the first-place Yankees, and they're one game behind Wild Card leaders Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Rangers' loss left them with just a four-game lead over the second-place A's, pending Oakland's Sunday-afternoon game in Seattle.