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THE GOOD: Three games in Philly. Rays only have to win one. Winning two would be gravy but again, not necessary. The Rays now have 2 chances to get that one win in Philly…Bars in NYC are open until 4:00. And even then, 4:00am is more of a suggestion than a rule. With game 3 not ending until 2:00, it was nice and much needed to get out for a bit…Defense. Over he course of 5 outs in the 2nd and 3rd, the Rays made 4 incredible plays to keep the game close. A snag on a hot shot by Carlos Pena and a nice play up the middle by Jason Bartlett started the 2nd and then an inning later it was the Fat Catcher with a perfect throw to second to nail Jimmy Rollins who was 47-50 prior to this game followed by BJ Upton making one of his trademark “gliding” over-the-shoulder catches…JP Howell. Typical JP. Howell came in after a leadoff walk with the score tied in the 8th. He strikes out Chase Utley, picks Jayson Werth off second and gets Ryan Howard looking. He has been the Rays best and most consistent reliever all year and nothing has changed in the playoffs.
THE BAD: Dioner Navarro’s golden brain fart. Ya gotta win that game. After being down 4-1 late, the Rays battled back to tie the game in the 8th. At that point you gotta find a way to win the game. And yet, in the top of the 9th the Rays go down 1-2-3 with an easy strike out, and two weak ground outs. And the bottom of the 9th? Don’t get us started. Absolutely awful. We don’t care how quickly that ball bounces back to Navarro on the wild pitch. He is not getting the runner at second if he tries a thousand times. So why take a chance on throwing one into the outfield when Navi doesn’t even get a chance to get his body into throwing position? You can’t let a runner go from first to third with no outs. What happens after that means nothing. The Rays lost the game on Navarro’s brain fart…Getting beat by Carlos Ruiz. We don’t mind the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard home runs. Great hitters. Tip your cap. But how does Matt Garza let a guy that hit 4 home runs in the regular season beat him for a home run in the World Series. You can’t get beat by Ruiz. It just can’t happen…Leadoff hitters. Phillies hitters leading off an inning were on base 10 times in the first 2 games. Last night it was worse. Batters that led off an inning were on base 6 times. 3 of those runners scored…The wind. With the Rays trailing 2-1 in the 6th, Evan Longoria hit a ball to left field that would have been 50 feet past the fence on a normal day, but last night, the ball stayed in the park…The Rays 1 extra base hit in the first two games was doubled in game 3. In other words, the Rays bats are quickly becoming the “Blackout of ’08″.
THE TELLING: Carl Crawford reached on a bunt single in the 7th. It was his first bunt attempt of any kind in 2008. He would later score. The Rays now have 22 stolen bases this postseason, 2 more than the previous record.
ONE MORE BAD: Can we stop with the umpiring bitch-fest please? After game 1 we noted that the Phillies caught some “breaks” in their win. Missed calls happen. It is part of the game. Did the umpire miss the call on Carl Crawford? Sure did. Was it a horrible call? Not even close. CC is out by about 6 inches. On TV in super-duper-HD-slow-mo-mo the distance looked bigger than the gap between John Kruk’s ears. But in reality it was a bang-bang play in which the umpire got caught in a bad spot.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The Phillies were more than a little upset when the backups were not introduced prior to game 1. It should be noted that the Rays backups were not introduced either and did not have issue. This is a decision made by the TV network and backups have not been introduced since 2004. [ESPN]
- A season ticket holder since 1998 stands to win a lot of money if the Rays win the World Series. [The Big Lead]
- We find it just a little strange that a story on the disappearance of “The Heckler” is found in the Wall Street Journal…Is this where our economy is right now? [Wall Street Journal]