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THE GOOD: It was a perfect game for the Phillies. They had their best pitcher on the mound against the Rays #3 starter. They got a number of breaks during the game, including a safe-call on a pickoff attempt in the 2nd inning that showed the runner was out. In the 5th inning Pat Burrell was safe at first on an error when it appeared that he was clearly inside the base line. The Phillies had several excuse-me swings and bloop basehits. With the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd, BJ Upton hit a ball about as hard as it could be hit, but the ball went right to Pedro Feliz at third base, who turned a double-play. And the biggest break may have been a non-balk call in which Cole Hammels picked Carlos Pena off first base with no outs in the 6th of a 1-run game. All of those breaks, with their ace on the mound and the Rays still only lost 3-2 and had several opportunities to win the game. If there is such a thing as a “good” loss in the World Series. This was it. With pitching matchup advantages in the next 3 games, the Rays are far from out of this…The DH is a big advantage for the Rays. Chris Coste was the Phillies DH and he didn’t even look like a major league hitter…The Rays “double” lead-off combination of Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura reached base each of their first 5 plate appearances…Lefties in the lineup went 4 for their first 7 with a home run and 2 RBI against Cole Hamels.
THE BAD: Scott Kazmir once again couldn’t get out of his own way in the first inning giving up a 2-run home run. And even though Kazmir was a bit unlucky with some bloop hits after the first inning, he still allowed 11 base runners in the first 6 innings. If the Phillies didn’t go 0-9 with runners in scoring position in those 6 innings, the game wouldn’t have been so close…Phillies lead-off hitters were on base 4 times…With 2 outs in the 5th and a runner on second, BJ Upton fouled out to Ryan Howard who reached into the stands for the grab. Absolutely awful job by the crowd in that section. We have no idea how they can let an opposing player make that play…The Rays 2-4 batters went a combined 0-12 with 5 Ks….Why the hell is the “free taco” such a big story? Did people think there was a chance nobody would steal a base in the entire World Series? Taco Bell is giving away free Tacos. Good for them. We understand Fox TV making a big deal. It is a corporate sponsorship. But why are there so many news stories on the topic?
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon chose to start Ben Zobrist in right field with Gabe Gross struggling and preferring to keep Fernando Perez on the bench as a late-inning weapon. It was Zobrist’s second start in right field in his career…10 of the last 11 World Series winners won game 1. Then again 5 of those were sweeps and another 2 were 4-1. Anybody think the Rays are getting swept? Didn’t think so…There is about an 80% chance of rain in St. Pete tonight. Too bad the Rays don’t play in a dome. Oh. Wait. Never mind…According to CoolStandings.com the chances of the Rays winning the World Series is now only 36.1%.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- In a strange story, Daisuke Matsuzaka apparently accused (in the Japanese media) the Rays of moving the pitching rubber to benefit James Shields. MLB checked the mound and found nothing wrong. [St. Pete Times]
- Big League Stew debates the non-balk call. [Big League Stew]
- In a classic case of “hindsight is 20-20”, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says the Rays were “too cool” in game 1 and didn’t play the game with urgency…Of course in game 1 of the ALCS everybody was saying the Rays played too uptight. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Gerry Fraley of Fox Sports says the game 1 win cannot hide the problems the Phillies have. [Fox Sports]
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN says Joe Maddon gives his players 30 minutes after every game to either celebrate the win or stew about the loss. After 30 minutes, that game is done and it is time to focus on the next game. [ESPN]
- We always wonder what makes one team in a championship contest a “team of destiny” and the other is not. The Press of Atlantic City thinks the Phillies are destiny’s darlings this year. [Press of Atlantic City]
- Philly, we’ll make you a deal. We’ll stop ringing the cowbells if you promise that the Phillies fans in games 3,4,5 will not yell any ignorant insults. Deal? Didn’t think so. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Peter Mucha of the Philadelphia Inquirer says a rainout on Saturday would move Cole Hamels up from game 5 to game 4. This will not change Hamel’s availability for game 7. If game 4 is moved to Monday, game 7 will not change. There just won’t be an off-day between games 5 and 6. Which means game 7 will be next Thursday regardless of when game 4 is played. So unless Hamels comes back on 2 days rest, Hamels is not pitching game 7. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Scott Kazmir just wishes he could get the one pitch back from the first inning. [MLB]
- Mark Newman gives us “Ten things to love about The Trop.” [MLB]
- Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald says that the emergence of the Rays changes the landscape in the AL East and the Yankees and Red Sox should get used to it. [Boston Herald]
- BJ Upton’s bat from the ALDS and ALCS was sent to the Hall of Fame. [Baseball Prospectus]
- Bud Selig sure doesn’t seem upset about the Rays in the World Series when he says, “I just can’t tell you how important this is…I’m really lucky I was able to see this.” [USA Today]
- Troy Percival is still at home with his family in California…Joe Maddon says he would be with the team if he was on the roster. [Tampa Tribune]
- The Tigers new pitching coach has ties to Matt Garza. [Detroit Free-Press]
- Todd Kalas joined his dad in the radio booth during the 4th inning. [MLB]
- While the Rays were celebrating after game 7 of the ALCS, Trever Miller’s 4-year old daughter nearly died in the stands. It does sound as if Miller’s wife had the situation under control, as this is a condition that is not new. [MLB]