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THE GOOD: Dan Wheeler. All we can do is tip our cap. The second inning of work scared us. The third inning terrified us. But four innings? Huge…Evan Longoria. Longoria rediscovered his confidence between games 1 and 2. In game 1 Dirtbag was guessing. In the 8th inning of game 1, with the tying runs on base and 1 out, Longoria had a 2-0 count and then swung at a breaking ball in the dirt. He would eventually ground into a double-play. In the first inning of game 2, and the Rays already facing a 1-0 deficit, Longoria once again faced a 2-0 count. Again the Red Sox gave him a breaking ball. This time Longoria took the pitch. Even though the pitch was a strike and once again the count was 2-1, it marked a world of difference in the at bat from the day before. In game 1 Dirtbag was guessing and had made up his mind to swing before the pitch. In game 2 Longoria was waiting for his pitch. He eventually got it and hit a 2-run home run to give the Rays the lead…We said this before the series, but it is worth repeating, anybody that says the regular season means nothing now just isn’t paying attention. With the Rays winning the second and third game of the September series in Fenway and maintaining their lead in the AL East, it proved to the players that they can win in Boston.
THE BAD: Criticizing Joe Maddon for green-lighting Carlos Pena with a 3-0 count in game 1. This is something that would have bothered us to no end in ’06 or ’07. But Maddon pushes some odd buttons from time-to-time and most of the time this season it has worked. Maddon gives his players green lights on 3-0 quite often. We can’t start second-guessing him now. Papa Joe trusts his players and we trust Papa Joe…Getting old. We have recently noticed that the the most telling sign of aging is the amount of time needed for recovery. We are now over 30 hours removed from game 2 and we are still sore as hell and can barely talk.
THE TELLING: Troy Percival who was signed in part to be a mentor to the young Rays pitchers and is one of the few players with postseason experience, decided not to stay with the Rays during the ALCS and chose to fly home to be with his family. We think it is safe to say we can now squash any talk of Percival pitching in the World Series should the Rays win the ALCS…While the Rays waited until 2pm Sunday to fly to Boston, the Red Sox flew home after the game on Saturday and arrived home at 7am…David Price’s picked up the win in game 2 for his first major league W…Rocco Baldelli is expected to be the right fielder with Willy Aybar at DH. If Joe Maddon feels Rocco can’t handle outfield duties tonight, he will DH with Fernando Perez in right…The chances of the Rays winning the ALCS are now 45.4%…It is the quiet ones that always scare us. On the field before the game chatting with Stuart Sternberg and Andrew Friedman without issue. But then Matt Silverman joined us, the triumvirate was complete, and the situation suddenly became intimidating. Of course we shouldn’t be surprised with this Rays team that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- No promises, but we are going to try and get a “Pepper” post up this afternoon specifically for games 3, 4 and 5. We are also hoping to do another for the final 2 games back at the Trop (assuming the Rays don’t sweep the 3 in Boston). We will also have a “Live Blog-A-Baloo (Lite)” for tonight’s game 3.
- Remember that Evan Longoria interview from last week that was so strange the first time we read it that we thought it was satire? Well, Evan Longoria has issued an apology, but only to Spanish speaking press because English speaking press don’t care. [Shysterball]
- With Matt Garza pitching tonight and Andy Sonnanstine ready to go in game 4, Joe Maddon could shuffle the rotation for games 5 and 6 with Scott Kazmir going in game 5 on normal rest and James Shields being held back to throw in game 6 at the Trop. [St. Pete Times]
- We didn’t think any writers would be silly enough to start with the Cinderella cliches after the game 1 loss. It was only 1 loss right? Hadn’t the Rays twice recently lost a game 1 to the Red Sox only to come back and win games 2 and 3? Certainly nobody would be idiotic enough to start predicting imminent doom. But then we remembered that the world still has people like Bill Madden writing about baseball. [New York Daily News]
- We know there are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball, but we had no idea that it is “unprofessional” to have the “Ray Team” working the crowd during the game while standing on the dugouts. At least that is the sentiment of Kevin Youkilis…Seriously? Maybe we should change his nickname to “The Greek God of Wearing Panties”…Just shut up and play. (Thanks JJ) [NY Post]
- Dan Wheeler thinks he will be ready to go in game 3 if needed, despite throwing 3.1 innings in game 2. Joe Maddon wants to wait to see how Wheeler feels today. [MLB]
- Raymond and Wall E. Monster chat it up in “The Dugout”. [Fanhouse]
- Fire Brand of the American League takes a look at who should be starting in center field for the Sox. [Fire Brand of the American League]
- Transcript from yesterday’s press conference with Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey. [Providence Journal]
- Gary Shelton says game 2 was par for the course for the Rays. [St. Pete Times]
- Marc Topkin takes a look at how the Rays won game 2. Our favorite quote comes from Fernando Perez on tagging up from third on a shallow fly ball to win the game: “I wanted to go no matter what. When you see an owner holding a very dangerous dog back, that’s kind of how I felt with [third base coach] Foley there.” [St. Pete Times]
- Dennis Maffezzoli takes a look at the challenges of playing the Monster at Fenway Park. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
- Since when did Jon Lester suddenly morph into Sandy Koufax? According to one blog, Lester is a “sure bet” in game 3. [Josh Q. Public]
- Josh Beckett insists that he is OK. [Boston Globe]
- Big League Stew has the final numbers from game 2. [Big League Stew]
- Prior to game 2, Joe Maddon told Evan Longoria to be more selective. [Rays Report]
- The Serious Tip has some images from his trip to game 1. [The Serious Tip]
- Big League Stew thinks it was a mistake for Joe Maddon to give the Rays green lights on 3-0 counts in game 1. [Big League Stew]
- Since Joe Maddon took over the Rays, only three teams have swung and put a 3-0 pitch in play more than the Rays. [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon said he felt that for the first time this season, the players were impacted by the pressure during game 1. [Rays Report]
- Just because there are no state lines between St. Pete and Miami doesn’t mean there is any correlation between what has happened with attendance for the Marlins and what will happen with attendance with the Rays. By that thinking, one should be able to predict the attendance of Brewers games based on Cubs games, seeing as how the distance from Milwaukee to Chicago is half the distance from St. Pete to Miami. [MVN Outsider]
- If you were about to be interviewed after an LCS game by a reporter about the game, what would you say? We can’t imagine “I sat in gum” would be high on many people’s lists. [Red Sox Monster]
- Big League Stew examines the tale of the tape for the GMs of the Rays and Red Sox. [Big League Stew]
- A look at how the Rays prospects are performing in the Arizona Fall League. [Tampa Bay Rays Prospects]
- Demond Jennings, who missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, is now listed on the AFL roster. [Tampa Bay Rays Prospects]