Rays Can’t Close Out Series
Like most people in the Rays Republic, I thought we might have a late night at the airport waiting for the guys to come in from Chi-town. But then again, I have been hoping that we also do not breeze through the playoffs and not take advantage of situations. Today we had a few things to haywire on the way to our first playoff loss.
Now is it better to get that loss now in the beginning and set the course right before we get into a hole, or do we want one in the next round maybe even at home that would put us totally behind the old 8-ball. In a small way, this loss came at the right time, and at the right place. We have two teams here that go about their pitching in the same manner, but who use the offense in a 180 degree tilt.
Whereas the White Sox like to slam and bam the ball all over the yeard, the Rays will use small calculated steps to sneak up on you and pounce for the win. Both have been successful, but we have shut down this kind of offense before. Our next opponent will either be the Boston Red Soxor the Los Angeles Angels who both play that style. So maybe a loss right now is actually a good thing.
Plus, with Sarah Palin’s plane coming into St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport today for a Clearwater Rally, they might be stuck in the air for a long time waiting for clearance to land. You know how the Secret Service is about planes in the air…………………..they do not like them, even if they are winners.
You knew there had to be some kind of unusual and wild happening in this series in Chicago. In this land of ex-mob bosses and bootleggers, you would never expect that a pigeon would be the cuase of so much controversy. Now do we know for a fact that those pigeons are trained by the South Side mafia in the rightfield stands to distract and enable the Rays pitching staff to lose concentration, or is this some lame conspiracy theory brought on by a simple fact of worms in the infield?
I want to establish a blur ribbon fact finding mission as to the ramifications of this pigeon being the betting mastermind behind the largest wagering system in the tri-city area. Will he turn stool-pigeon if caught, or will he just be a simple bird on a wire?
Seriously here, was that not the funniest thing you ever saw. The pigeon actually had to be a city pigeon because what other bird would sit there while a ball was being thrown almsot 98 m.p.h. over its head. I am just glad we did not have another Randy Johnson situation on our hands. What if Garza had accidently hit the bird with a pitch, or a ball had been struck into its path. The TBS switchboard would have melted all its circuits by the time this blew over.
Unusual Groundskeeping Tricks
Every baseball stadium has its wild little quirks or mannerisms that make it unique in the league. The groundskeeping crews at most stadiums tend to lend the basepaths and foullines to the advantage of the home team. But the quirk in question yesterday might have been hidden from sight if not for a simple oversight.
If you want to leave a wet spot on the pitching mound to expose the other team’s starting pitcher to soft footing and not have a solid landing spot for his follow-through leg, wouldn’t you hide it better? Case in point, when Matt Garza called for the Groendskeeping crew to dig out some of the loose clay in front of the mound, you could see John Danks marks were a good foot to the north of the problem area.
With Garza being 6’4″ he had a bigger stride and would plant beyond Danks. For that reason, when the tarp was taken off, isn’t it funn y that the setion that had the most probelms was over the center of the field. Now the grounds crew threw lot of absorbing compound all over the field, but I did not see any mixed in on the mound area. I have a feeling this was wet down after Friday’s prectice sessions and just fermented over night to a nice quagmire.
But, to Garza’s dismay, the first attempt to fix the problem still showed a camera close-up of him still not getting ample grip on his follow-through leg footing. So he had the heads groundskeeper come out and shovel the top layer of wet clay off the mound and then proceeded to dominate again on the mound. You have to play your advantages. I am not calling anything wrong here, but it is funny that the spots that Danks hit were high and dry today.
The Rays staring pitcher today, Matt Garza never looked totally controlled in his game until after that mound repair in the 5th inning. His started out great by getting the first 5 White Sox batters in row before giving up his first hit to Ken Griffey Junior in the 2nd inning.
But it was the lead-off walk issued to Dewayne Wise that would come back to haunt Garza early in this ballgame. Wise walked on 6 pitches and moved over to second on a stolen base, then on the next pitch A J pierzenski hit a ball up the mifddle to score Wise from second and tied the score at 1-1.
But in the 4th inning, Garza would face his biggest innnig when he gave up a lead-off double to Jim Thome and walked Paul Konerko to put 2 White Sox on base. Griffey Jr. then came up and rattled a single to right to load the bases.
Alexi Ramirez then hit a Sacrifice fly to center to score Thome and every runner moved up on the play. B J Upton could have gotten Griffey on a tag-out if he had hurried the play into the infield. Griffey got in just under the tag by Jason Bartlett.
Wise then came up and hit a double to left to score both Konerko and Griffey Jr and put the Sox up 4-1 at that point. From that point on, Garza shut down the White Sox until the 6th inning when after Griifey walked to start the inning, Brain Anderson came on to pinch-runner for him. Anderson them stole second on the third pitch to Ramirez and scored on Juan Uribe’s single to leftfield.
For the day, Garza threw 6 innings and gave up 7-hits and 5-runs on 95 pitches. After the mound was repaired, Garza ended up pitching more consistanly and made better first pitches to the White Sox. For the day, Garza also had 4 strikeouts and 4 walked issued on the day.
Aybar vs Thorton
In the 8th inning, Willy Aybar struvk out swinning for the 2nd out of the inning. But during the play the ball got away from White Sox cathcer Pierzenski and bounced down the first baseline. Aytbar bolted out of the box and Thornton raced fron the mound towards the bouncing ball. Thornton got to the ball before Aybar raced by and both men collided into each other on the basepath.
In a qesture to show no ill will or harm, Thornton put his glove out to show that he was not trying to hurt Aybar. Aybar then fist bumped the glove to also convey that all is okay in Aybar-land. the reason this is a big thing is the fact that these guys showed class and also the aggressive nature that is the game of baseball. you run and play hard, but if something happens that might seem odd or confusing, sometimes a show of class or sportsmanship can ease all pains and return the game to normal.
B J Upton
Alot has been said this season about the shoulder injury to Upton, but sometimes he just gets into a swing and you forget this guy has been in pain for almost the entire season. His 411 foot blast to leftfield in the 7th inning did help the Rays glance into the well for hope of einning this contest.
For the day, Upton went 2-5, but it was his 2-run blast that got the team within 2 runs at 5-3 that sparked the Rays. In his next at bat in the 9th inning, Upton singles to left and was on base when Carlos Pena struck out to end the game for the Rays.
White Sox starter John Danks has been called on alot by Manager Ozzie Guillen this year for keys wins in key games. He was the guy Guillen picked to start the 1-game playoff game to decide who would win the AL Central earlier in the week. Today against the Rays he took control quick by establishing himself on the mound and striking out 7 batters in his 6.1 innings. He kept the Rays confused by mixing his pitches well and when he left had thrown 105 and had given up only 7 hits all day to the Rays.
For most of the season, Navarro has been right on target with his throws to second on base-stealing attempts. But in the today’s game the White Sox took a page from the Rays’ playbook and stole second 3 times in the game. Dewayne Wise stole second in the 3rd inning, and Navarro overthrew Akinora Iwamura and the ball sailed into centerfield.
In the 6th inning, the White Sox would steal seond twice on Navarro. the first was Brian Anderson, who came on to run for Ken Griffey Junior after a walk and stole on the third pitch to Ramirez. Juan Uribe then stole second on the second pitch to Orlando Cabrera to complete the trifecta on Navarro today. Coming into the game, Navarro had thrown out over 34 percent of the base stealers this season, second to only Jose Molina of the New York Yankees in the American League.