"I felt like I gave up two hard hits the whole entire game," Shields
said. "They had two nub hits here and there. But it's just what
happens in the playoffs. Qualls is a ground-ball pitcher, and we needed
a double play. So what are you going to do? It's Joe's decision."
It was a surprising move for all involved, but Maddon explained that he
liked the matchup of a ground-ball pitcher against a player who
grounded into 21 double plays, the ninth-highest total in
the AL this year.
"It was a good situation for Chad," Maddon said. "He's a ground-ball
pitcher. Young has hit into a lot of double plays this year."
But the decision clearly didn't work out in the Rays' favor, as Qualls
caught a bad break when a check swing by Young that replays showed
should have gone for a third strike was ruled a no-swing by first-base
umpire Jerry Meals. Young quickly capitalized, delivering a
three-run homer on the next pitch to put the Rangers up, 5-0.
Two of those runs were charged to Shields, and as a result, he
ended with an unsightly line of four runs allowed over just 4 1/3
innings -- the shortest outing of his postseason career.
"Unfortunately, the end results of my numbers didn't really show how I
pitched tonight," said Shields. "I felt like I pitched fine."
Shields, who posted a 5.18 ERA during the regular season, looked on
Thursday much more like the "Big Game James" of the past, who
posted a 2.88 ERA in four postseason starts during the Rays' memorable
run to the World Series in 2008.
But luck simply wasn't on his side, as he allowed just two hard-hit
balls -- a second-inning double to Nelson Cruz and a fourth-inning
solo homer to Ian Kinsler -- but was saddled with the loss after
the Rays managed just two hits in defeat.
There were traces of bad fortune nearly everywhere for Shields, as he
twice plunked Rangers catcher Matt Treanor with errant changeups and
allowed Treanor to score the first run of the game on a botched
pickoff throw to first baseman Ben Zobrist with Elvis Andrus on first
base in the third inning.
"I did a great job of keeping him right there," Shields said. "I think
if Zobrist makes that catch right there or if I throw it closer to the
bag, we get that out right there."
Instead the ball went off Zobrist's glove, allowing Treanor to score
and Andrus to reach second base. But Shields was able to minimize the
damage, getting Young to ground out and Josh Hamilton to fly out
to end the inning.
But Shields ran into trouble again in the fifth inning, when he
hit Treanor again to open the inning and allowed a
one-out single to Andrus to put runners on the corners. But instead of working out of this jam, he made way for Qualls, and the rest
is history thanks to Young's back-breaking three-run blast.
"I was disappointed," Shields said of being taken out early. "I'm a
competitor. I wanted to go all nine innings, you know. I wanted the
ball, and I felt Michael Young was 0-for-2 against me on the day with a
strikeout and a ground ball. But Joe wanted to play the matchups, and
he did. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
Now the Rays find themselves in a 2-0 hole, and they have to win
three in a row to reach the AL Championship Series for the second time
in three years. But as Shields noted, the season's not over quite yet.
"The good news is, we're playing on Saturday," he said. "We're not
going home yet. We have to fight our way through. They beat us two
here, so we need to beat them two at their place. Hopefully we can get
that Game 5 back here."