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THE GOOD: Matt Garza. Only fitting that we start with the ALCS MVP. 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run and 1 huge pair of cajones. And Joe Maddon had the guts to stick with Garza in the 7th inning, despite 99 pitches heading into the inning. And even more guts to stick with Garza after 2 batters reached base with only 1 out. Garza would get Mark Kotsay to fly out to right and then struck out Jason Varitek…Evan Longoria. The Rays didn’t have a single base runner in the first 3 innings and it was beginning to look as if Jon Lester was back to his unbeatable ways. But with 2 outs and Carlos Pena on first, Evan Longoria stroked a double down the right field line. Pena is slow, but he was just fast enough to beat the relay throw and get the Rays on the board…The Strike ‘em out-Throw ‘em out. With 1 out in the 6th and Dustin Pedroia on first and David Ortiz at the plate, Matt Garza gets Big Papi swinging. As our house erupted in cheers, I was screaming that Pedroia was running. Dioner Navarro made an absolutely perfect throw to beat Pedroia by 5 feet…Willy Aybar. His home run was the biggest hit of the game. You could almost feel the pressure lift a little off of the players once that ball left the bat giving the Rays a 2-run lead…David Price. Only fitting that we end with King David. The favored son appeared late in the battle and slayed Goliath to lead the Rays past the
Philistines Red Sox. Seriously? A guy that started the year in single-A, earns his first career save-a 4-out save-in game 7 of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. Think King David might see some similar situations in the World Series?
THE BAD: Getting lucky in the 4th inning. When Evan Longoria flipped the double down the right field line, it nearly bounced over the short wall in foul territory near the foul pole, hitting the wall about 6 inches from the top. If that ball goes over, Carlos Pena would have been forced to stop at third base on the ground-rule double…Getting lucky in the 8th inning. With runners on first and second and David Ortiz coming up, Joe Maddon went to JP Howell. Howell got Ortiz to ground slowly to Aki Iwamura. Rather than take the sure out at first, Aki went to second. Coco Crisp would have been safe if he slid for the bag. Instead, he chose to slide at Bartlett to break up the double-play and never touched the bag and was forced out…Joe Maddon went with Gabe Gross as a late-inning defensive replacement in right field. Gross is a good right fielder. Fernando Perez is better.
THE TELLING: When David Price came back out for the 9th inning, our first reaction was to shit our pants. But strangely, once we changed our diaper, we weren’t worried. The kid is that good…David Ortiz came to the plate with runners on base three times. He was 0-3 with 2 strike outs and a force out…Anybody from Red Sox Nation care to explain once again how winning the division didn’t mean anything? Any chance the Red Sox would have preferred to play game 7 at home?…Winning the ALCS in 5 games would have been sweet, but giving Red Sox Nation false hope and then crushing it with a 700-pound fat lady singing at the top of her lungs, made it all the more sweet…According to CoolStandings.com, the Rays now have a 100% chance of winning the ALCS. We think they are underestimating the magic of the Red Sox. The Rays have a 53.5% chance of winning the World Series which is basically the home field advantage…Look for Scott Kazmir to take the ball for game 1 on Wednesday against Cole Hammels, with James Shields coming back on normal rest for game 2 and Matt Garza in game 3.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Transcript of Joe Maddon’s post-game press conference. [MLB]
- Transcript of Matt Garza’s post-game press conference. [MLB]
- Don Zimmer threw out the first pitch. [Tampa Tribune]
- Troy Percival was expected to rejoin the Rays prior to game 7, but chose to stay in California to tend to a “family matter”. [Fox Sports]
- “The thousands of you that left Game Five in Fenway early can feel justified now, since the team wasn’t up to your standards” [Epic Carnival]
- We don’t think BJ Upton was ever really in the doghouse for more than a day or two, but after this postseason, it is safe to say Upton is definitely back in the good graces of his manager. [SI.com]
- We will try to get to some more links this afternoon.