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Saturday, October 18, 2008

ALCS Game 6: Red Sox 4, Rays 2

Bottom 1st: Half an hour into the game and TBS only just now gets their act together to show the game, previously covered over by a sitcom. B.J. Upton knocks a solo blast into the "C-ring" of the dome, and it's 1-0 Rays. Evan Longoria hits into a double play to end the frame.

Top 2nd: Kevin Youkilis takes James Shields deep to left center and its tied 1-1, just in to the first row of seats. There's nobody out, and then Shields gives up a long foul ball with home run distance down the right field line. Drew then reaches on a base hit. Jason Bay follows that up with a hot smash down third, but Longoria spears it and almost turns it into a double play ball, forcing Drew at second but not in time to get Bay at first.

Mark Kotsay slaps a seeing-eye single up the right side that evades both right-side infielders, with only one out. The Sox are really hitting Shields pretty hard. He recovers when Juston Upton hauls in a lazy fly to right center by Jed Lowrie. Jason Varitek flies out to Carl Crawford in left to end the threat, and Shields is out.

The announcers tell us what we've missed: Josh Beckett's fastball is a couple MPH off, and he's missing command. They don't cut to ads in the inning change; good for them.

Bottom 2nd: If Beckett's off his game, you couldn't tell in this frame. Carl Crawford (groundout), Cliff Floyd (strikeout looking on a backdoor curve), and Dioner Navarro (lineout to right) go down in order.

Top 3rd: Coco Crisp lined out, but then Dustin Pedroia walked and David Ortiz hammered one down the right field line just out of reach of first baseman Carlos Pena. That led to an RBI when Kevin Youkilis grounded out to short, making it 2-1 Red Sox; Youk has driven in both the Sox' runs tonight. On the play, Ortiz moved to third, bringing up Drew — who also walks.

After a coaching visit, Bay walks on a full count to load the bases. It's Shields' third walk of the inning, and all of a sudden he's not looking very sharp. He leads off Mark Kotsay with a very high inside slider, and Shields goes 3-1 before retiring Kotsay on a routine fly ball to medium center.

Aside: I will be so grateful when both Viagra and Cialis go off-patent.

Bottom 3rd: With one out, Beckett plunks Jason Bartlett even though Bartlett makes almost no effort to move out of the way. Beckett whines about it a little. He eventually retires Iwamura and Upton after what seems like an eternity. God, I hate Beckett.

Top 4th: Home plate umpire Darryl Cousins leaves the game after taking a Jason Varitek foul tip on the collarbone in the second. Crew chief Tim McClellan will take over behind the dish. After a long delay (is anything brief in the postseason?), Shields finally retires Jed Lowrie after going 3-0 and then 3-1 on him. After giving up a two-out single to Coco Crisp, he strikes out Pedroia to end the frame. I'd say he likes McClellan's zone a little better than Cousins'.

Bottom 5th: After a relatively easy fourth (the only baserunner was J.D. Drew on a two-out double), the Rays get an improbable one-out homer from Jason Bartlett that just squeaks fair down the left field line; Bartlett had one homer all season. It's tied 2-2.

Top 6th: With two out, Jason Varitek gets his first hit in the series, and it's a huge one, walloping one into right field to make it 3-2 Sox. The crowd quiets a bit. Shields gives up a pachinko ball to Crisp for a 1-4 infield single, and that's it for Shields. J.P. Howell enters the game to face Pedroia, and Pedroia boinks one to short. The normally sure-handed Jason Bartlett throws one past Pena for an E6 that allows Pedroia to reach, and that brings up David Ortiz. Ortiz then gets a line drive single to right to make it 4-2 Sox, bringing out pitching coach Jim Hickey. Kevin Youkilis strikes out — finally — on a pitch nearly in the dirt to end the frame.

Bottom 6th: Beckett is out of the game, replaced by Hideki Okajima. Okajima gets Upton to line out to third to start the frame. Longoria walks, but he's the only baserunner for the Rays.

Top 7th: The Sox get a pair on with two out thanks to a Jed Lowrie walk against Grant Balfour, who lives down to his name. A passed ball in Varitek's at-bat moves the runners up to second and third; the Rays start to look awfully sloppy defensively. Varitek finally pops out to right to end the threat. Still 4-2 Red Sox.

Bottom 7th: With two out, Ben Zobrist flies out to deep left center. Okajima just retired the side in order, and the Rays are running out of outs.

Top 8th: Balfour continues to give up baserunners, surrendering a walk to Crisp. That's it for him, bringing in Chad Bradford. Bradford gets the first out against Dustin Pedroia, intentionally walks Big Papi, and then gets Youkilis to hit into a double play to end the frame.

Bottom 8th: Justin Masterson opens the frame by plunking Jason Bartlett, and starts Iwamura off with two balls. He gets a called strike and a swinging strike on a hard slider to even the count, and then gets him to swing at a pitch off the plate for the first out. Masterson then gets a strikeout and a couple flies to shallow right to end the threat.

Bottom 9th: After an uneventful top of the ninth, the Rays come in to face Papelbon. The TBS announcers incorrectly say that Papelbon has not allowed any runs in 24 consecutive postseason innings (he did just this series, but they weren't charged to him). The bogus data notwithstanding, he gets Longoria to bounce out to short — one away. Crawford fans on a high fastball for two out. Willy Aybar lines out to Youkilis at third to end it, and it goes final, 4-2 Red Sox.


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Apparently a circuit breaker in Atlanta caused the problems with the first half hour of the TBS telecast.

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