ALDS Belongs to the Rays….Finally

 

 

I am one of those lucky people who got a ticket to game 1 and 2 of the ALCS games. I did not get them from the Rays, or from a corporate sponsor. I got them because I was a Season Ticketholder for the Rays. So why is it I get an email telling me I cheated to get my tickets. I got them the same way most places got them……….from ticketmaster.com.  I did not have the pre-playoff ticket package, but have gotten them per series and I was online also on Monday.

The problem with the ticket system is that some of the websites pay people to pre-register for the tickets and give them either tickets or incentives for the emails. This is the form of capitalism that founded this grest country, and even if it is not to our liking, it will not go away. This is the problem with finally getting big in the world. We now see the problems with tickets and getting seats that Bosotn, New York and Chicago have felt for years.

Success breeds greed. Season Ticketholders buy the maximum two tickets when they first register in August for tickets, then in October, before the first game we get another option to buy 4 more tickets anywhere in the stadium. I saw a ticket in the Whitney Bank club going for almost $ 600 dollars today. I expect if it is not sold today, it will go up in price by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The Rays have no say in this system. It is generated after years and years of success at the MLB level. They are just pawns in the system and have to play by MLB rules. Since Stubhub is a major sponsor of MLB, it might get a pre-arranged share of tickets in a certain region of the stadium.

But what is more annoying is the fact that even Rays’ fans are jacking up the price on Craigslist, Stubhub, or even the local papers classified section. Do not be surprised on Friday night to hear a Upper Deck seat going for $ 400 dollar or more. With need come greed……..and it will not be settled in time for all of us to enjot them game.

 

Rays 6, White Sox 2

 

 

Andy Sonnanstine

I will be the first person to tell you that I thought Andy Sonnanstine might be in the Bullpen and not starting during the ALDS. I had on my 25-man roster as the number 4 guy, Edwin Jackson because of his power pitching. I was wrong. Sonnanstine has been a role model on consistant pitching for the last few weeks. He might have been stuck on 13 wins, but he has thrown some great games and not gotten the decisions.

But tonight was his greatest pitching performance to date for the Rays. It might have only been his 1st post-season win ever, but he did not pitch like it on the mound. Andy might have only threw 5.2 innings tonight, but he left with a 5-2 rays score that gave him his first win. He threw only 75 pitches and got 4 strikeouts on the night, but his pitches were working most of the night and kept the White Sox batters’ puzzled at the plate.

But all was not perfect for Sonnanstine tonight. He had a few moments in the game that had both pitching coach Jim Hickey and Rays Manager Joe Maddon wondering if this game might break wide open. Sonnanstine had minor trouble with the White Sox until Paul Konerko connected on a high breaking pitch and sent it over the wall for a solo home run in the 4th inning.

 

 

Then Sonnanstine came back out in the 5th and got the White Sox down in order on 7 pitches. That is right s-e-v-e-n pitches. Amazing job to make a point to the Sox. In the 6th inning, after getting 2 quick fly ball outs, Jermaine Dye hit a ball up in the zone to right for the second solo shot of the night by the Sox. That put the score at 5-2, and Sonnanstine was done for the night.

 

              

 

B J Upton

I have to tell you. I am loving the power coming off his bat right now. For the ALDS Upton only batted .278, but it was his homer outburst in the last 2 games that is making people wonder what he could have done with a good shoulder this year. I think we are seeing just how good he can be if he is totally into the game and winning.

 

           

 

Upton went 2-4 on the night with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, but he hit 2 bombs to basically again take the White Sox out of the game. In the 1st inning on the 4th pitch he saw he hit the ball about 2 feet beyond the leftfield wall for a solo shot. But Upton was not done for the day. In the 3rd inning, he again hit a breaking ball up in the zone and deposited it beyond the centerfield fence for his second homer of the game.  In this at bat, it took him 8 pitches until he got the one he wanted and hit it a ton to put the Rays up 2-0 at that time.

 

                           

 

Superman-type Play

Gabe Gross getting the start in right becuase of the right-handed batter made it cear early on in this game that he was going to do whatever was needed to win tonight. When A J Pierzenski hit a slow moving breaking ball out to right in the 1st inning, Gross threw himself up high and above the yellow line to bring the ball in and turn a sure homer into a fly out. It was an early indicator of the type of night the White Sox were going to have at the plate.

 

A J Pierzenski = Controversy

I have to tell you there were two issues in the game and before it that could have also been major turning points for both teams. Before the contest, it was rumored that the White Sox might have been stealing the Rays signals last night because all 3 stolen bases were on breaking pitches by Matt Garza.

Considering that Garza was throwing mostly heat last night, it is a wild bit of timing that every runner guessed right all three times in the game. So the Rays went to a body, hand and motion signal set to make it a little more difficult to try and  steal the signals tonight.

But the Rays also got a little piece of controversy for themselves during an at bat by Carlos Pena. In the 7th inning. During the at bat, there was questionable call with the count 0-2 and Pena let a high pitch come in without trying to foul it off.

When the TBS crew pulled up the strikezone indicator on their screens it showed it was a ball plain and simple, but White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen did not see it the same way. He shouted out to his pitcher Gavin Floyd who did not nod to him when he asked if it was high.  So with the count now 1-2, Pena fouled pff the next 2 pitches before singling to rightfield to score Jason Bartlett and give the Rays a 6-2 score.

 

 

This caused Guillen to come out and  and chat a bit with Floyd, but when home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg came out to see what is going on, Guillen made sure to give him an earful before going back into the dugout. If Pena had struck out in that at bat, it would have given the Rays 1 outs in the inning.

 

                         

 

1-2-3 Hitters’

The Rays first 3 batters went a combined  7-13 on the night with  3 runs scored and 4 RBI’s. Akinora Iwamura went 2-5 on the night, with a single to right in the 3rd inning, and scoring on Pena’s single to right to put the Rays up 5-1 at the time. Aki then hit a 1-hop double to the wall in leftfield down the line to get in scoring position for the Rays.

Upton , of course went 2-4 with his 2 homers, and also had a great night in the field saving several balls from falling to the turf or going over his head in the game. In the 5th inning, Alexi Ramirez hit a hard liner to center that Upton took like a wide reciever over his shoulder for an easy out.

Carlos Pena had a great series going .500 for the series and getting 2 RBI’s and 2 stolen bases for the Rays. In the game, Pena singled to right on the first pitch he saw tonight. he then stole second base to get into scoring position. In the 5th inning, he again hit a ball to right, he trie again to steal second base, but Pierzenski threw a bullet to nail him at second before the slide. Pena again got another  RBI single to right in the 7th inning. In the 9th inning, he was Intentionally walked so they could get to Evan Longoria who went 0-5 on the night.

 

 

 

Carl Crawford

Alot of people were questioning if Carl Crawford was healthy enough to play in this tough series. I think after tonight’s game you do not have to question that again this season. Crawford went  0-2 on the night, but when  he got on base via 2 walks, he made the White Sox pitchers pay for it.  In the 4th inning Floyd walked Crawford on 5 pitches.

Then when Cliff Floyd hit a double to deep leftfield, Crawford sprinted around the bases and got into home before the wild throw went pass Pierzenski and Floyd advanced to third on the throwing error. Then Crawford walked to lead-off the 6th inning and was a constant pest to White Sox reliever Clayton Richard who threw numerous times over to first to keep Crawford close to the bag.

After 2 quick out, Gabe Gross came to the plate for the Rays. Crawford stole second easily on the 1st pitch to Gross and then stole third 4 pitches later. It ia actually pretty amazing that Crawford even played in the game. During Batting Practice, team mate Dioner Navarro actually hit Crawford in the midsection with a full swing by accident while stretching before hitting in the cage. Crawford was okay but a bit winded during B.P. after that episode.

 

               

 

Rays Set-up Duo

You know that the White Sox are happy to not have to go up and hit again this year against either Grant Balfour or  J P Howell. Both have combined to pitch 7.2 innings of  scoreless ball this series. Combine that with the statistics of Chad Bradford, and all three have held the White Sox  scoreless in 10.2 innings and have given up only 8 hits in their appearances.

Howell came on to relieve Sonnanstine after the homer to Dye and pitched 1.1 innings and threw 24 pitches. Only Ramirez got a single off him in the 7th inning as his only hit allowed in the appearance tonight.

He left in the bottom of the 8th and Balfour took over for the rest of the game.  Balfour gave up a walk to Pierzenski to give the White Sox hope in the 8th inning before striking out Dye looking to end the inning.  In the 9th inning, Balfour got 2 quick outs on a grounder to short and a fly ball to Gross in right. With one out left in the game, Balfour hunkered down and got behind to Ken Griffey Junior 0-2 before rattling off 2 straight strikes to end the game for the Rays.

 

 

Ken Griffey Jr.

With this maybe being the last game in Chicago for Griffey Jr., he made sure the Chicago fans would remember that even tho he has lost a step or two in the outfield, positioning can save you every time. In the 4th inning, he took a sure extra base hit away from Jason Bartlett on a dying quail to shallow centerfield. It is just another eason why this guy is worth the price of admission to watch work his magic at the plate and in the field.

 

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