FIRST INNING (A look back)…
The heart of the order for the Rays carried the offense in the ALCS…Can they keep it up?
After going 2-13 with no RBI in the first game, batters 2-5 (BJ Upton, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford) hit .405/.474/.957 (1.430 OPS) in the next 4 games while the team went 3-1. Upton and Crawford are the biggest surprises. Upton was unable to attack pitches with his shoulder injury most of the season, but now appears as though he has put that behind him. Crawford looks like a guy that is desperate to prove that he is still important. Longoria and Pena? Those guys are just awesome….GET USED TO IT
SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
The Rays played 9 games this season in a NL park without the DH…What can we learn from those games?
The Rays were last in baseball with 23 sacrifices. In 9 games in NL parks the Rays employed the sac bunt 3 times. In DH-games the Rays sac bunted once every 7.7 games. So Papa Joe does tend to get a bit more Nationalistic without the DH. The other question is what Joe Maddon will do with the lineup without a DH in Philly. Our guess is the DHs Willy Aybar and Cliff Floyd will sit in Philadelphia. Floyd is not a big loss, but Aybar was a huge bat in September and so far in the postseason. His bat will be missed…MORE SAC BUNTS AND LESS AYBAR IN PHILLY
THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
The Phillies feature two lefties in their rotation and the Rays struggle against lefties…Are they in trouble?
During the regular season the Rays struggled against lefties going 40-41 against left-handed starters. But in the postseason, the Rays are now 3-1 against lefties. In addition to the historic runs by BJ Upton and Evan Longoria, a big reason for the new found success against lefties is the emergence of Rocco Baldelli and Willy Aybar as legitimate offensive threats. In the ALCS, Baldelli and Aybar hit a combined 10-25 (.400) with 3 HR and 10 RBI (1.223 OPS). Also Jamie Moyer is not scaring anybody… RAYS WERE 2-0 VERSUS LESTER
FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
David Price shut down the Red Sox for a 4-out save in game 7 of the ALCS…Who is going to close for the Rays in the World Series?
Since Troy Percival went on the DL, Joe Maddon has gone closer-by-committee, with Dan Wheeler receiving the majority of the save opportunities. But after Wheeler struggled during the comeback in game 5, Maddon chose to go with Wheeler early in game 7 and then brought David Price in for the final 4 outs. Maddon will still go closer-by-committee in the World Series, with an eye towards matchups, but don’t be surprised to see Price in the 9th inning during the World Series…WHOMEVER IS LEFTOVER AFTER THE 7TH AND 8TH INNINGS
FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
Scott Kazmir struggled down the stretch for the Rays but was solid in his last start in the ALCS…Which Kazmir can we expect in the World Series?
In September and his first start of the postseason, Kazmir seemed to be struggling mentally. In many of his recent starts he seemed more worried about his mechanics than the batter. When Joe Maddon move Kid K up to game 5 at Fenway, the crowd and the pressure of the situation seemed to refocus Kazmir and he dominated the Sox for 6 innings. If Kazmir starts looking down at his landing foot in the first inning of game 1, the Rays will be in trouble. If Kazmir can focus on the batters, he is capable of shutting the Phillies down for 5+ inning… DEPENDS ON IF HIS FEET ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN BATTER
SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
Normally this is where we would look at other series of importance…But SWEET. FANCY. MOSES…THERE ARE NO OTHER SERIES
SEVENTH INNING (Over/Unders)…
0.5 saves for David Price in the World Series:
The two relievers that Maddon has the most confidence in are JP Howell and Grant Balfour, although The Mad Australian struggled in the ALCS. So when big outs are needed in the 7th and 8th inning, those are the pitchers you will see. As for Price, game 7 was a big breakthrough but it is difficult to gauge what that will mean for the World Series. Maddon clearly has confidence in Price so it will not surprise us to see him in the 9th inning at some point, but he has yet to work back-to-back days so the opportunities will be limited…OVER, BARELY
3.5 wins in the World Series:
All the Rays have done all season is win when nobody thought they would…OVER
5.5 games needed to win the World Series:
Joe Maddon has preached “one game at a time” all year long and in the postseason they continue to play as if it is these are just mid-May games. If the World Series goes like the regular season and the postseason so far, it should be fairly scripted. The Rays will take an early advantage. At some point in the series, they will be on the brink and as they have been doing since June, the experts will tell us that the clock is about to strike midnight. And just when everybody thinks the Rays are dead, they will do what they have done all year. They will win. Ahh. Who are we kidding. Rays are clearly the better team…RAYS IN FOUR (UNDER)
EIGHTH INNING (On deck)…
The Rays have home field advantage in the World Series thanks to an All-Star game win…Will this venue have an impact on the series?
Game 1 will mark the first time in 2008 that the Phillies will play on artificial turf. This is not something to take lightly. The Rays have one of the best infield defenses in baseball. An argument could be made for 3 or 4 gold gloves in the Rays infield. The Rays infield is used to the fast turf. The quick bounces and the fast track are something the Phillies infielders are not used to. At some point in games 1 or 2, the Rays will benefit…GOOD FOR 1 OR 2 RUNS IN GAMES 1 AND 2
NINTH INNING (Putting out the fire)…
There has been a lot of talk that the Phillies have a big advantage when comparing bullpens…Should we be concerned?
The Rays did struggle in the ALCS for the first time all season, but beware of small sample sizes. Also, the mainstream media sees an absence of Troy Percival and his 28 saves and don’t understand that the Rays bullpen is better with David Price in Percy’s place…THE BULLPEN WILL BE GREAT
If the Rays lose the World Series is this season a success?
On the one hand, “yes”, as nobody thought the Rays would get this far. But then again, the Rays are no lock to get back anytime soon. It would be a success if they hadn’t gotten this far. But the Rays are this far. Either win or go home…NO
Matt Garza was named the MVP of the ALCS…Do you agree?
Earlier this season Garza started seeing a sports psychologist and has been great ever since…CAN WE GET THE PSYCHOLOGIST A PLAYOFF SHARE?
Matt Garza was named the MVP of the ALCS…If the Rays win the World Series, who will be named World Series MVP?
Co-MVPs seem like a long-shot, so we have to pick between BJ Upton and Evan Longoria. We think there is a Longoria bias…EVAN LONGORIA
Will the Red Sox overcome a 4 games to 3 deficit?
If it keeps the Red Sox Nation from vandalizing Faneuil Hall…LET THEM KEEP HOPING
Besides having to beat a Philadelphia team, are there any other similarities with the 2002 Bucs Super Bowl team?
In the matchup to determine the two finalists, an underdog Bucs squad beat a familiar nemesis that was used to getting the better of Tampa Bay. The Super Bowl was almost a bit anticlimactic. The story seems familiar…LOOK FOR A WORLD SERIES BLOWOUT
Do you care if people outside of Philadelphia and Tampa-St. Pete watch this series?
They will miss an opportunity to see an exciting team…NO
We have heard that you pick your beverage for a series based on the opponent…What is the drink of choice for the ALCS?
Seriously? This is Philly we are talking about. Those guys will drink anything. Besides it is no longer necessary to pick a beverage based on the opponent. Rather pick something pro-Rays. We need big series from El Gato del Crimen (Carlos Pena) in general, and we need a big series from Willy Aybar against Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer. So let’s go Dominicano…EL PRESIDENTE