Rays Move on to Face the Fightin’ Phillies
First off, I want to thank the Boston fans I saw last night who had the class and the respect to clap after the game for the Rays. I am not asking anyone to be a Rays fan here, just saluting the positive image I saw last night from a few of the Boston faithful.
I can not speak for most of the Rays Republic, but I will say that this series is an instant classic and should be played on ESPN Classic for the nest few nights. It had everything that makes baseball fun. It also had a budding rivalry that will peak and ebb with the season.
You have nothing to be ashamed of in this loss. It was a dogfight from the first pitch, and any pitch could have turn it one hundred different ways. There are some in the Ray’s fold of fans who went out of their ways to antagonize and piss off the Boston fans in attendance. This is not acceptable. This will not be tolerated, and it will stop. We need to act like we have been here before.
I am not asking us to sit there with tea and crumpets, but you got to respect a persons loyalty to their team. I am an ex-Gator player living with a FSU graduate. I do not need to be reminded of the irony here. But the fact of the matter is 27 people had to be removed from the Trop this weekend. I know there were a few temper flareups, but the real problem is we inherited a few bad apples in the bunch.
I am not asking for the morality police to enforce anything here. Just a little humanity is all that is needed. It is only a baseball game. I am as passionate as the next guy about my team, maybe even more, but I will not throw down a gaunlet for the sake of being a fan. We have the foundation for a great run at the playoffs for a few years. Let’s not ruin our image around the league as the bullies and the vulgar slobs of the new order. If the Cowbell Kidd can tone down this year, then the average fan can do it too. Go Rays!!!!!!!
Guess James Shields will have to share that big game moniker with Matt Garza for a while here. Who would have imagined when we traded away some real trouble (Delmon Young) we would have recieved two pure gifts that got us to this level. Some say that Jason Bartlett was the keystone in that trade, but I am thinking Garza right now.
Matt has done whatever the Rays asked of him this season. He had a emotional and stress situation in June in Texas and asked for help. Since that time Garza has been the linchpin that has held this years’ playoff push and series win in check. And last night it was his job to stop up the dam and be the little dutch boy.
Who knew he could do it with such ease and grace. Garza went 7 innings last night, and you know he was over there politicing with Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey to finish the game out himself. But he had done everyhting asked of him and more. And when they announced the American League Most Valuable Player, it was a no brainer that Garza was standing tall and taking in all the noise from this wild crowd.
In his 7 innings, Garza sent down the Red Sox in order in 4 of his 6 innings. He had a dominating breaking ball tonight and it showed in his 9 strikeouts on 115 pitches. Garza did have problems tonight, but early they were with only one Boston Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia has owned the Rays’ pitchers this year.
He is that gnat that keeps buzzing your head and will not go away. He put his first bite on the Rays with a 1st inning homer to left that gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. Then in the 3rd inning, he stood his ground and took one for his team as Graza got him flush in the elbow with a nice breaking ball.
After stealing second on Garza, Perdroia was in position to put another stinger into the Rays. He never got the chance as Garza struck out David Ortiz to end the inning. Pedroia made one attempt to try and get some offense for the Red Sox as he walked in the 6th inning and then was caught stealing in a great throw by Dioner Navarro to end the inning.
For the series, Garza went 2-0, with a 1.38 ERA and got 14 strikeouts to lead the Rays to the World Series. I think we might have to just call the group of three pitchers the Big Game Gang from now on.
ALCS Series Tidbits and Morsels
David Price, who has neither won nor saved a regular-season game in his brief career, saved the Rays’ 3-1 win in Game 7 of the ALCS after winning Game 2. The only other rookies to post a win and save in the same postseason series were Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals (2006 World Series) and Rawly Eastwick of the Reds (1975 NLCS and 1975 World Series).
Price was the 18th player to earn a save in a postseason game in which he entered a bases-loaded situation, but he was the first rookie to do so.
Joe Maddon used five pitchers to nurse his team’s 2-1 lead through the seventh inning. It was the first time in postseason history that as many as five pitchers combined for a scoreless inning.
With a pair of 24-year-old starters, Matt Garza and Jon Lester, Game 7 of the ALCS was the second winner-take-all postseason game in MLB history in which both starting pitchers were under the age of 25. The first was Game 7 of the 1934 World Series, in which Dizzy Dean of the Cardinals beat Elden Auker of the Tigers.
The Rays committed six errors in the ALCS, the Red Sox committed none. Since the playoff format was expanded in 1969, only one team won a postseason series in which it committed at least six more errors than its opponent: the Red Sox (8) over the Cardinals (1) in the 2004 World Series.
Isn’t it funny how certain trades have risen to the top for the Rays this year. Maybe there is something about those flowcharts and risk management sheets in Andrew Friedman’s office. Maybe a few other AL team will be riffling in his file cabinet this off season looking for the next ‘Willy Aybar” for their team.
This guy has just been superb for the Rays this year. When you trade for a guy who had an injured wrist and a few problems on and off the field, you hope for a good investment. If this is how Stu Sternberg’s group does their investing, the U S Government should ask Stu what to do about the economy. Seriously here,
Aybar was not counted on to be the player he was out of Spring Training. He was suppose to be the stop gap until Evan Longoria was ready to man thrid for the next decade. He has done more than just rescue this franchise when Longoria went down, and given the team countless hit when they were needed this year.
In tonight’s game, Aybar went 2-3, with 2 runs scored and a RBI on the night. Aybar started off by hitting a scorcher down to Kevin Yuokilis at third, but was out vy a foot. that did not set him back, in his next at bat, he took a 1-2 count breaking ball and lined it to within a foot of going over the short leftfield wall for a double to put himself in popsition to score for the Rays.
He moved over to second on Dioner Navarro’s infield single to short and scored on Rocco Baldelli’s single to leftfield. Aybar actually stopped at third before Third Base Coach Tom Foley asked what he was dong here and scored easily before Jason Bay’s throw got to Jason Varitek to put the Rays up 2-1.
Then in the 7th inning he put the exclamation point on thenight by hitting a solo homer to left that left the Red Sox fans looking for the exits. It was a beautiful shot that gave the Rays a cushion going into the last 6 outs of the game.
I have a few favorite players on this team, but no one carries more emotion for me than Rocco Baldelli. I was under the stands watching the news conference during Spring Training when Rocco announced the medical situation that was plaguing his system and his baseball career. At that time I thought I might see the last of this great player.
But medical teams found a reason for the fatigue and gave him the ability to again play some ball for the Rays. And this team needed that kind of leadership and committment from the Trading Deadline on this year. He was the in-house version of the big right-handed bat we needed to contend down the stretch and in the playoffs. So mwhen he got that RBI single in the 5th inning tonight.
It brought tears to me eyes that he has gone so far and seen so much and can now drink the sweet nectar of champagne knowing if he doesn’t play again next year………..he is a true champion in the record books now too. People who have known him know he is a champion off the field, but this single gave him the satisfaction of knowing that all the hard work was worth it, and he still has some special work to do against the Phillies.
I was watching the turf a few minutes after the Rays won the game, and there was their leader, Carlos Pena doing his patented dance in front of the dugout to the adolation of the crowd. If there is a true leader this year for the Rays, then number 23 has to be on the podium shaking his fist and loving life right now.
Pena has been the rock in the 3-spot for the Rays and has been a solid rock on defense when they Rays needed that extra push on the field. But in the 4th inning tonight. I think Pena sent a message to the Red Sox and the Phillies with his hustle and his determination as he went from first to home on Longoria’s double down the rightfield line that bounced right in front of my seat.
I was watching as J D Drew took the ball and tried to catch up to the speeding blur heading for home. Pena hit the plate with a force that made him explode up and show one of the biggest emotions from him this season. He expolded all over the plate in a burst of emotion and pure energy. It was a delight to watch him. I almost thought he was going to grab Home Plate Umpire Brian Gorman and do a salsa with him.
In one of the wildest thing I have ever seen in my life, the Rays used 5 relief pitchers in the 8th inning. First Dan Wheeler came on and went 1/3rd of an inning. Then J P Howell came on to face Ortiz and got him to hit into a fielder’s choice, and in 7 pitches he was gone from the game. Chad Bradford then came on and got Youkilis to walk on 6 pitches. Then Maddon brought in the rookie ….
What else can the Rookie do for the Rays this year. He has not even pitched in the regular season, but already has his first big league win and save in the same series. David Price came in with 2-outs in the 8th inning last night and dominated the Red Sox. His last out of the 8th was a strikeout to J D Drew to end the Red Sox threat.
He then came back out in the 9th and further took control of the game after walking lead-off man Bay on 8 pitches. He then got both Mark Kotsay and Varitek to strike out before putting a nice curveball over for pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie to hit to Akinora Iwamura to make a force play out at second and seal the victory for the Rays.