THE GOOD: Matt Garza was never dominating, but he was never in real trouble. Despite allowing at least 1 baserunner in each of the first 6 innings and a runner on at least 2nd base with less than 2 outs in each of the first 3 innings, Garza was able to work out of each situation…Hitters 2-5 in the lineup. BJ Upton, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford went a combined 2-13 with 3 walks and 5 Ks in the first game. In games 2 and 3 the group went 14-38 with 12 RBI…Upton now has 5 home runs in the postseason after hitting 9 all season. Kinda nice to imagine how good he is going to be next season once his shoulder is repaired…All 9 starters got a basehit…Leadoff hitters were on base in 6 innings, going 5-8 with a walk…Edwin Jackson. The game was out of reach, but it was nice to see Nuke come in and pitch a perfect 9th inning in his first postseason appearance. He threw 14 pitches, all fastballs, 8 for strikes, hitting 99 mph on one pitch. But before we start screaming about what a great relief pitcher he would be, let’s keep in mind that he does seem a little too much like Kyle Farnsworth out of the ‘pen. Not even relief pitchers can live on straight fastballs, even if they approach triple digits on the radar gun…P.S. What happened to Jon Lester the Invincible?
THE BAD: JP Howell may not be available tonight. Despite opening up an 8-1 lead in the top of the 8th, Joe Maddon kept Howell in the game in the bottom of the 8th for a second inning of work. Howell worked at least 2 innings in 25 appearances this season. Not once did he pitch the next day. Of course, the double play to end the 7th inning helped keep his pitch count down, and he only needed 20 pitches to complete the 2 innings of work, including 4 to get the three outs in the 7th…BJ Upton did something wacky on the basepaths again. Ohhh Melvin.
THE TELLING: The last time the Rays faced Tim Wakefield, both Willy Aybar and Fernando Perez started and batted right-handed. Both homered in their only plate appearance against Wakefield as he was chased after 2.1 innings. Of course Gabe Gross also homered in that game against Wakefield. The knuckleballer was 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 3 starts versus the Rays this season…Evan Longoria tied the record for most home runs by a rookie in a single postseason, with 4…Road teams that win game 3 are 8-2 in LCS…The Red Sox would have to win 3 of the final 4 games in order to advance to the World Series. According to CoolStandings.com the Rays now have a 68.5% chance of winning the ALCS.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- We will be back tonight with another Rays Index Live Blog-A-Baloo (Lite).
- As mentioned yesterday Joe Maddon may be leaning towards pitching Scott Kazmir in game 5 on normal rest and holding back James Shields until game 6 at home where he is more effective. Kazmir has a history of big starts in Fenway and the off-day after game 5 could come in handy should Kazmir need much bullpen support. We also wonder if the atmosphere at Fenway can be distracting to Kazmir in a positive way as his problems right now seem to be mental. The crowd intensity may actually help Kazmir focus and keep his mind off his mechanics. Yesterday all Maddon would say is they are “supposed to” pitch Shields in game 5. [St. Pete Times]
- Ken Rosenthal of Fox TV reported during the NLCS game last night that a scout for an opposing team told him that he believes Scott Kazmir “has some sort of arm issue.”…Keep in mind that this is just speculation on the scout’s part.
- A great article about Joe Maddon by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com as he tries to get into the mind of the Rays’ manager. Joe Maddon does not consider himself a new-age manager. Rather he feels as though he is trying to get the Rays play 1920s baseball, by keeping the game simple.
- A Rays fan caught the Evan Longoria home run ball while sitting in the seats above the Green Monster. [Tampa Bay Rays Prospects]
- A few members of The RAYSHEAD Army made their way to Fenway Park including the guy that caught Evan Longoria’s home run ball…We love this quote: “I’ve been suffering with this team since Day 1…I was at Red Sox games down at the Trop in ’98 and ’99 when there were 7,000 people. There was no Red Sox Nation. Now all of a sudden, everybody down there is from South Boston.” [New York Times]
- It is hard for us to think the St. Pete Times is objective when they shill for the Rays. Sometimes it is hard to tell. This one is pretty obvious. [St. Pete Times]
- “It was almost as if Red Sox Nation had already marked down a Game 3 victory with Lester on the mound.”…We are pretty sure they did mark it down as a victory. As they also did with a potential game 7 matchup with Lester. [Fox Sports]
- Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com tries to predict the 10 sports franchises most likely to move. The biggest factor according to Van Riper is poor stadium conditions. The top 2 teams on the list are the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays. Only a couple of problems. The Marlins have a new stadium set to open in 2011 (never mentioned by Van Riper) and the Rays are in the works for a new stadium with the only apparent roadblock being location (also never mentioned by Van Riper). The other problem which is mentioned by Van Riper is that only 1 baseball franchise has moved in the last 30 years and that team (Montreal Expos) had to first be purchased by MLB. It just doesn’t happen except under extreme circumstances. And yet basketball and hockey teams move all the time and NFL teams move occasionally. (Thanks Zenny) [Yahoo! Sports]
- Joe Maddon once put himself in as a pinch-hitter for Joe Carter. Yes. That Joe Carter. [SI.com]
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com takes a look at how the Rays are wining in the postseason. [ESPN]
- Josh Kalk of The Hardball Times takes a look at David Price. [The Hardball Times]
- Jacoby Ellsbury has yet to reach base for the Red Sox in the first 3 games. [Boston Herald]
- Jeff Pearlman of ESPN.com does not understand a world in which the Rays are a good ballclub. [ESPN]
- Rake Blog has a mancrush on Evan Longoria, calling him “as close to a sure thing as a young athlete can be on this side of Justin Upton or Lebron James,” and insisting he is headed to the hall of fame. [Rake Blog]
- First it was the mascots. Now the managers are chatting it up in “The Dugout” and Scott Kazmir has an identity crisis. [Fanhouse]
- Transcript from Joe Maddon’s post-game press conference. [MLB]
- Transcript from Matt Garza and Rocco Baldelli’s post-game press conference. [MLB]