Major League Baseball makes its debut on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra this evening, with ex-‘Baseball on 5’ presenters Jonny Gould and Josh Chetwynd providing coverage of a top match-up from the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays take on the Minnesota Twins from Target Field, with the BBC’s coverage beginning at 7 p.m. and first pitch set for ten minutes later. A preview of the game can be found below.
To celebrate this great news, we are running a live blog to conincide with the radio coverage. Join us from 7 p.m. by clicking on the ‘CoverItLive’ widget below. Feel free to submit comments through the widget during the event, rather than using the main comments section. Comments will not go live automatically, mainly so that if you are asking a question we can write up an answer and then publish the two together where necessary, so don’t panic if your comment isn’t published immediately. If you can’t join us live, you’ll be able to read the blog back at your leisure after the event has finished.
Enjoy the game!
Tampa Bay Rays (47-33) @ Minnesota Twins (44-37)
It was expected that both the Rays and the Twins would be in the thick of the postseason race and so it has proved up to this point. Tampa Bay are in third place in the American League East, just two games behind the division-leading New York Yankees and 1.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. Minnesota are level with the Detroit Tigers at the top of the American League Central division.
Today’s contest is the fourth and final game of the series and the Rays hold a 2-1 advantage following their 8-6 win yesterday. Tampa Bay trailed 5-1 after seven innings before launching a seven-run assault in the top of the eighth, capped by a Matt Joyce grand slam. Jim Thome homered twice for the Twins in the loss, tying and then passing Twins great Harmon Killebrew for tenth on the all-time home run list with the 573rd and 574th long balls of his career.
Both starting pitchers in today’s game will be glad that the calendar has turned over to July after having Junes to forget. The Rays’ James Shields pitched well through the first two months of the season (3.62 ERA over eleven starts) before being hit for 28 runs in 29.1 innings during June. The Twins’ Nick Blackburn had a poor April, an excellent May and then a terrible June ( 29 runs conceded in 25.2 innings) so he will be hoping he can continue the sequence with an excellent July and then carry on in that vein rather than alternating back to a bad month again in August.
If you are new to baseball, a useful guide to all the basics of a baseball game can be found on the BaseballSoftballUK website as a pdf here. Details about many other aspects of Major League Baseball (the structure of the competition, the make-up of an MLB roster etc) can be found in our ‘Baseball Basics for Brits’ series. If you have any questions during the game, however basic they may seem, please just pass them on in the live blog and we’ll be more than happy to answer them.