FIRST INNING (A look back)…
In game 6, TBS lost their feed to the baseball broadcast and people watching at home missed the first inning…How can a network let something like this happen?
TBS blamed the the problem on what sounded like a piece you could buy at Best Buy for $30. We suppose that sort of thing happens, but if TBS wants to play with the big boys, how is it that they don’t have a secure backup plan and when things do go bad, why are the fans subjected to an episode of “The Steve Harvey Show” without any explanation of what is happening for over 30 minutes. And there were other feeds still coming from the park (we picked up ESPN-China, don’t ask), so couldn’t TBS tap into those feeds until theirs is repaired? Unfortunately we are stuck with TBS until 2013 as that is the length of the current television contract…STEVE HARVEY? REALLY?
SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
James Shields struggled in game 6, needing over 90 pitches to get through 5 innings and not surviving the 6th…What went wrong?
Shields did not have his good changeup and it could have been due to the long layoff from his last start. When a pitcher that depends on a changeup gets too much rest they can be too strong and overthrow their changeup. In that case, the changeup will either hang in the strikezone or the pitcher will try to overcompensate and end up throwing the change in the dirt. A good changeup pitcher will get a lot of swing-and-misses on the change. Last night, Shields threw the change 29 times and only got 4 swing-and-misses. He also missed the strikezone with his change 15 times. Normally that is not bad, but the Sox weren’t biting, which means the pitch was either in the dirt or the Sox hitters were just laying off (both happened)…NO CHANGEUP
THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
There has been a lot of second-guessing of Joe Maddon in the last two games…Are there any moves that were questionable?
Are only problem with the bullpen is the use of Dan Wheeler. In fact we go back to game 2 when Wheeler worked parts of 4 innings. Maddon wants the players to keep playing the game the same as they have all season, and yet Maddon uses Wheeler in a manner he wouldn’t have done during the regular season. We feel Maddon got lucky in game 2 and pushed his luck too far in game 5. The only other questionable decision is leaving Gabe Gross in right field up 7-0 in game 5. Gross is a good right fielder, but Fernando Perez is better and clearly has more range. There is no need to save Perez for a pinch-running spot with the Rays up 7-0 and Gross’ bat is no longer needed. So we still don’t know why Perez was not in the game…NO REASON NOT TO HAVE PEREZ IN RF IN 7TH INNING OF GAME 5
FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
Tonight the Rays will send Matt Garza to the hill…What will be the key to a strong game?
It never changes for Garza. He must get ahead of the batter with strike-one. Garza has the one pitch that every pitcher desires. He can throw a 95-mph fastball with movement. It is a great pitch, but it is better when the batter isn’t sure it is coming. When Garza gets ahead of the batter with strike-one, he is able to mix in his other pitches and it is 50-50 whether he will throw a fastball or not. That keeps the batter on his heels. However, when Garza falls behind the batter with ball-one, the chance of seeing a fastball on pitch two goes up to about 80%. That is a huge advantage to the batter. In Garza’s best starts this season he was able to get ahead of batters. So watch early and see if the first pitch to each batter is a strike or ball. If there are more strikes than balls, the Red Sox hitters are in for a long night…STRIKE ONE
FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
The Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound on an extra day of rest after getting pounded in game 3…Can he rebound and pitch well tonight?
Lester looked tired in game 3 and there is a good chance he is pitching with a tired arm right now. After his game 3 start Lester has now thrown 230 innings this season. In 2007 Lester only threw 163 innings including the playoffs. That is a 41.1% increase over the year before. If you play fantasy baseball, you might want to avoid Lester next season. But for tonight, Lester may not have his best stuff. He could still fight his way through 5 or 6 innings, but expect him to be on a short leash…WILL HAVE TO FIGHT A TIRED ARM
SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
[TBS blackout delay...cue an episode of "Martin"]
SEVENTH INNING (Toss up)…
First pitcher out of the bullpen tonight…Grant Balfour or JP Howell?
Balfour does not seem to have the same fire in the ALCS that he had in the ALDS, so he needs to find it and find it quick. Still, he is the one pitcher that we have the most confidence in, and we want The Mad Australian in the most crucial spot…SOMEBODY NEEDS TO INSULT BALFOUR’S MOTHER
Which starting pitcher will work deeper into the game…Matt Garza or Jon Lester?
Both pitchers will be on a short leash, but if Lester is pitching with a tired arm, he might not make it past 5 innings. Garza is capable of going 8, but look for Maddon to go to the bullpen at the first sign of trouble in the 6th or 7th…GARZA
Which team will be AL champions…Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox?
This game is at the Trop. The pitching matchup is a toss-up. Rays hitters know they can hit Lester. Take bias and historical ghosts out of it, and the Rays have to be the favorite…TAMPA BAY RAYS
EIGHTH INNING (On deck)…
Many think the result of tonight’s game is a foregone conclusion…Is there anything that should give RAYSHEADS confidence?
We certainly feel better about this game at the Trop than if the game was in Fenway. In the last 78 games at the Trop, the Rays have lost 2 in a row only two times. And once again the Rays are playing the roll of the little kid that sneaks up to the adult table and is being told they don’t belong. And every time the other team and the media and general baseball fans start doubting the Rays, all they do is win. This is not the ’04 Red Sox and this is not the ’07 Red Sox. However, this is the ’08 Rays and never has their been a more resilient underdog. The Red Sox are throwing a pitcher with a tired arm. It is imperative that Rays hitters stay patient and make Lester work. If they do that, they will score runs. And as long as Garza gets ahead of the batters, the Red Sox hitters will struggle. Nobody thinks the Rays can win tonight, but…THE RAYS ARE THE BETTER TEAM
NINTH INNING (Putting out the fire)…
When a router went down in Atlanta, TBS turned to an episode of “The Steve Harvey Show”…Was this good publicity for Steve Harvey?
More people probably watched that single episode than watched the entire series combined. However, nobody was exactly very happy about having to watch Steve Harvey. And why is “The Steve Harvey Show” the default go-to show for TBS when there is a total system failure? Is that the best they got?…LET’S HOPE THAT IS THE LAST TIME WE SEE STEVE HARVEY
After all that is happened with the Rays being 9 outs from the World Series…Will this season be a disappointment should the Rays lose game 7?
Shhhhhhhhh…THERE IS NO ‘LOSE’, ONLY ‘WIN’
We have heard that you pick your beverage for a series based on the opponent…What is the drink of choice for game 7?
There is plenty of Boddington’s in the fridge, but the most important drink will be on ice…CHAMPAGNE