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THE GOOD: Speed. The Rays have it and the White Sox don’t. Game 2 marked the first time ever that Carl Crawford, BJ Upton and Fernando Perez started together in the outfield. Add Rocco Baldelli at DH and all the speed came in handy. Upton hit a triple to left-center that not many people would have turned into a triple. Perez caught a ball in the right field bullpen that not many would have even considered running after. CC stole a base in the 8th without even a throw and would later score on a single. And Rocco would score all the way from first on a pop up just behind the second baseman. On the flip side, the White Sox had 6 hits in the game with a runner on base. Not once did a runner advance more than one base on any of those hits…Dr. Jekyll. Scott Kazmir after the first inning. Kid K managed to fight through his early struggles and keep the Sox and his pitch count in check, making it into the 6th inning. Kazmir needed only 55 pitches in innings 2-5…Aki Iwamura. He doesn’t hit a lot of home runs, but it seems like all of them give the Rays the lead.
THE BAD: Mr Hyde. Scott Kazmir in the first inning. It was Kazmir at his absolute worst. 37 pitches in the first inning…The Rays and Bucs start at the same time on Sunday. Not sure this has ever happened before, but the Bucs are going to be relegated to the Picture-In-Picture.
THE TELLING: WIth the second pitch of the game, Scott Kazmir hit Orlando Cabrera. After the fireworks between Cabrera and Grant Balfour the day before, it sure looked intentional. It hit Cabrera in the lower leg. Dioner Navarro had set up outside. Harold Reynolds was absolutely convinced that it was intentional and it looked intentional. BUT. We hope. We really, really hope Kazmir is not that dumb. Even if you think a message needs to be sent, you can’t send that message in the first inning of a playoff game with no outs when Cabrera has about an 80% chance of scoring and putting your team in a hole. So we are going to give Kaz the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was just the most errant of wild pitches in the first inning.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Here is video of Joe Maddon’s post-game press conference. [ESPN]
- Here is video of Rocco Baldelli and JP Howell after the game. [ESPN]
- The cameras at the USF game spotted Evan Longoria in the stands with some female companionship and referred to her as “an 0-4 day tomorrow” as in that is how Dirtbag would perform in game 2 after spending the night with her (Longoria went 1-4, so she must not have been that great). [Deadspin]
- Ozzie Guillen called game 2 “White Sox baseball” with “12 hits, we got two runs and those two runs were in the first inning. We got Kazmir on the ropes and we let him go. And we left  people on base. You’re not going to win many games like that.” [Chicago Tribune]
- More surprising than Akinori Iwamura’s go ahead home run? How about the Aki mohawk. Yes. Yes he did. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Stuart Sternberg appeared on 670 The Score, a Chicago radio station. Here is a link to the audio…There is not another single principal owner in baseball that is this accessible. Not even George Steinbrenner would do this in his hay day, and we love it. [670 The Score]
- Before the series we predicted that JP Howell would be put into a situation that could decide the fate of the series. Brittany Ghiroli breaks down this very scenario from game 2.
- The Twins writer over at Bugs and Cranks had to eat some crow after the Twinker Bells didn’t even show up for the ALDS. [Bugs and Cranks]
- October is when bullpens reign supreme…and Yes, the Rays’ bullpen is what sets the Rays apart. [Fox Sports]
- Baseball America has updated their list of the top 20 prospects of the International League. Three Rays make the list including Wade Davis (#3), Reid Brignac (#4) and Jeff Niemann (#16). [Baseball America]
- The Arena ranks which potential world series matchups would be the most attractive. Of the 16 potential matchups, the Rays come in 3, 7, 9 and 10. [The Arena]
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times says that losing the first 2 games is just par for the course for the White Sox. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Mark Buerhle says the Rays remind him of the ’05 White Sox. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Jason Beck says it will not be easy for the Rays to eliminate the White Sox in Chicago. [MLB]