The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.
THE GOOD: Nutshells. You can sum up the entire 2011 season with this one game. Terrible start, falling behind early. Mediocre play in the middle in which there was some good pitching and no offense whatsoever. And just when you thought the Rays were eliminated, they rallied late. The Red Sox blew what looked like an insurmountable lead. The Rays won their game. The Rays are in the playoffs…The Great Pumpkin. We wrote about his two-out, two-strike, game-tying, season-saving (again) home run last night. But it is worth repeating that he had not even played in a week. He didn’t have a big league hit since April. And yet, when the Rays got close, he worked his way to one of the cages and started hacking away. And when he came to the plate, he looked as cool as ever. We still can’t say enough about the pitch before the home run. It might have been a couple of inches off the plate, but there were 2 strikes and it was close. Johnson fouled it off and stayed alive. And on the very next pitch, Dan Johnson did what Dan Johnson does…The Orioles. Only minutes before the Rays completed their comeback, the Red Sox were up by 1 run in the 9th with 2 outs and Jonathon Papelbon on the hill. It looked like the best the Rays could hope for was to stay alive and make it to game 163 today. But then Chris Davis doubled. And then Nolan Reimold doubled to tie the score. And then Robert Andino hit a ball that Carl Crawford couldn’t grab and the Red Sox collapse was complete.
THE BETTER (you get a pass tonight David Price): Dirtbag Power. Great players show up. Evan Longoria showed up. First it was the 3-run home run in the 8th that made it a one-run game. But when Johnny Damon popped up, we thought it was too little too late. And before we get to the biggest hit, let’s not forget the defensive play that may have saved the Rays the season. With a runners on first and third with no outs, it seemed inevitable that the Yankees would take the lead. But a hard grounder to third was grabbed by Longoria who tagged the runner who had wandered too far off the bag. And of course, this just set up Dirtbag’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th. He got a 95 mph fastball in on the hands, but he cleared his hip, kept his hands in, and kept the ball fair, depositing it into Kapler’s Corner. Game Over. Regular Season Over. The Tampa Bay Rays are the 2011 American League Wild Card Team
THE TELLING: At one point, the Rays had a 0.3% chance of winning the game…The Rays will play the first game of the ALDS in Texas on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07pm. Let that soak in for a minute. Feels good, doesn’t it?
RANDOM THOUGHTS: We have plenty of time to figure this out, but have to assume Wade Davis is the game 1 starter, with James Shields going in game 2.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The Red Sox never did acquire a starting pitcher yesterday. Good thing. He wasn’t needed. [MLBTR]
- Pat Burrell may have played his last game. [SportingNews]
- The Tampa mayor spoke about the Rays stadium situation. [TBO.com]