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THE GOOD: Stella Got Her Groove Back. We don’t know if the Rays are going to win the World Series but the Rays are clearly the better ball club. This is the team that won 97 games during the regular season. Not the team that hit 37 kazillion thousand home runs in the ACLS. Even though the Rays were once again outplayed and outhit, there was never a moment when we worried about the outcome of this game…James Shields’ changeup. When Shields is on he gets swing-and-misses on the changeup and doesn’t have a lot of called balls out of the zone. In game 6 of the ALCS, Shields through 29 changeups with only 4 swing-and-misses. 15 were balls out of the strike zone. Last night Shields threw 31 changeups with 7 swing-and-misses and only 11 called balls…Domes. It was pouring outside of the Trop during the game…Dan Wheeler looked as good as we have seen him in a long time. His breaking balls were crisp with good movement and he was keeping them down in the zone…A split. The Rays were able to win one at home even though 2 of the big 3 hitters (Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria) were a combined 0-15 with 6 strikeouts…Defense. On 2 occasions the Rays made a non-out defensive play that saved a run. In the 4th with a runner on 2nd, a ground ball to first base is deflected by Carlos Pena. Aki Iwamura dives and keeps the ball in the infield keeping Ryan Howard at third. In the 6th with 2 outs and runner on first, BJ Upton dives for a soft single and stops the ball on a short hop. If the ball gets by Upton, the runner likely scores…Rocco Baldelli. At the plate, Rocco beat out a double-play with 2 on and no outs. His hustle left a runner at third with only 1 out. Joe Maddon answered with a safety squeeze for the Rays 4th run. In the field, the Phillies were again threatening in the 5th with runners on first and second with 1 out. Rocco ended the threat when he doubled Jayson Werth off of first base…We touched on this yesterday, but the DH is a huge advantage for the Rays. The Phillies just don’t have a legit bat to DH. Phillies DHs are now 1-7 with 9 runners left on base and they didn’t even look that good…David Price. Once again, like the Rays, we end with King David who did give up 2 runs (1 earned) but recorded the final 7 outs to close the door. With 2 on in the 7th, Price got Ryan Howard looking to end the inning. Got another big K in the 9th on Chase Utley for the 2nd out and then got Ryan Howard to ground into the shift for the final out.
THE BAD: Power outage. The Rays have to be happy to have split the first two games with such an anemic offense. Of course the offense was just good enough most of the season. Still, it is hard to imagine the Rays will win this series without seeing some of the offense that carried the team through the first 2 rounds…Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria are 0-15 with 6 strikeouts in the first 2 games combined…Whether it is luck or execution, the Rays are playing with fire allowing so many runners into scoring position. The Phillies had a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs 3 straight innings early in the game and failed to score. And overall, the Phillies are 1-28 with runners in scoring position.
THE TELLING: Rocco Baldelli got a rare start in RF against a right-handed pitcher. Joe Maddon went with Rocco as Brett Myers has actually been tougher on lefties this season with an OPS against of .738 (.833 versus LHB). Even more rare was Rocco playing all 9 innings, as he did last night for the first time since May 13, 2007 at Toronto…Why is everybody so convinced the Rays are going to be intimidated by the atmosphere in Philly? It can’t be any tougher than games 3,4,5 of the ALCS at Fenway, in which the Rays won 2…According to CoolStandings.com the chances of the Rays winning the World Series is now 51.0% with the most likely scenario having the Rays win in 7.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Big League Stew wonders if Kerwin Danley should recuse himself from the rest of the World Series after his questionable calls in both games 1 and 2. [Big League Stew]
- The Futon Report is not worried about the Phillies, noting that the team is capable of hitting 3 straight home runs at any time and the bullpen is well-rested. [The Futon Report]
- After Phillies fans poo-poo’d Rays fans for complaining about the umpiring in game 1, as they say, the shoe is now on the other foot when it comes to complaining. [Beerleaguer]
- Joe Maddon reacts to being named Manager of the Year as voted on by his fellow managers…Also, the Rays take care of their own. The team is chartering a plane and flying 175 employees up to Philadelphia and providing them with hotels and tickets to 2 of the games. [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Posnanski analyzes Joe Maddon’s managerial style and says there is never anything tentative about the Rays and that they are never cautious or timid, all of which is a reflection of the manager. And while other managers have failed at “changing the culture” of a team, Maddon has succeeded with “imagination” and a “deep belief in [himself]”. [Kansas City Star]
- David Price admitted to being nervous, noting that he usually doesn’t sweat but his hat was soaked…On a side note, it is not unusual to see Price be emotional and yell into his glove while walking back to the dugout, but last night we saw emotion from the rookie on the mound for the first time. No yelling, but you could see some genuine disappointment at times that bordered on anger. It was telling in that he never seemed to lose control of his emotions on the mound, even though he was upset. [St. Pete Times]
- Phil Sheriden of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the Phillies are playing tight and that the lack of offense is not a one-night blip on the radar. Rather the numbers suggest that this is a trend throughout the postseason, as the Phillies are now hitting .158 (18 for 114) in the postseason. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer says if the Phillies are going to win this series they need Jimmy Rollins on base and scoring, something he has yet to do. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- He may never be the old Rocco Baldelli but for one night Baldelli was back. [Babes Love Baseball]
- Dear 8 pounds 6 ounces baby Joe Maddon, new born, not even spoken a word yet. [IMAGE] [via SportsByBrooks]
- This one isn’t as good as the one earlier in the week, but still pretty good. [Big League Stew]
- David Price became the fastest player to go from being drafted #1 overall to appearing in the World Series. He shattered the previous record of 5 years. [Baseball Prospectus]
- At least fans in Philadelphia will be able to see one Phillies World Series clinching moment. A local TV station is going to air game 6 of the 1980 World Series…Have fun with that. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Tom Jones has a list of reasons to love every member of the Rays roster. [St. Pete Times]
- Transcript from Joe Maddon’s postgame press conference…[MLB]