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Sunday, October 19, 2008

ALCS Game 7: Rays 3, Red Sox 1

Top 1st: After retiring Coco Crisp on a bunt attempt (snark — Chip Cary had just got done talking about how badly Matt Garza fielded his position), Garza gives up a solo homer to Dustin Pedroia, 1-0 Red Sox. Here we go again, folks.

Garza walks Ortiz, and then surrenders a long fly in the right field corner to Kevin Youkilis; if Rocco Baldelli had gotten off a clean throw to first, he might have doubled up Ortiz. Garza then strikes out J.D. Drew on a pitch in the dirt, and Navarro completes the strikout after Garza reminds him, 2-3; the inning's over with only the home run.

Bottom 2nd: Jon Lester retires the side in order, though he gets a good scare on a B.J. Upton line drive that takes J.D. Drew to the warning track. Still 1-0 Boston.

Bottom 4th: Iwamura breaks up a perfect game by whacking a single into center to put a man on first with nobody out. Upton strikes out swinging, and Carlos Pena bounces into a fielder's choice 4-5 (the shift was on, and Youkilis covered second). Evan Longoria then welts one down the right field line that slices away from J.D. Drew, scoring Pena from first; though Drew got the throw to second and then to the plate, the relay was offline on the third base side, and Pena scored to make it tied 1-1. Carl Crawford strikes out swinging at a fastball even with his throat to end the frame, but the Rays came back from the early deficit.

Bottom 5th: After an uneventful, 1-2-3 top of the fifth, the Rays instantly get into scoring position (and fairly narrowly miss a homer) on Willy Aybar's double to deep left, with nobody out. Lester then goes 3-0 on the next batter, Navarro, before slinging a strike over the plate to make it 3-1, and then fouling one off to take the count full. He taps one hard to Alex Cora's right, and by the time the Red Sox shortstop gets to it, it's first and second with nobody out for the Rays. That brings up Baldelli, who belts a 0-1 pitch foul with a majestic long shot deep to left. On the next pitch, he bounces it through the hole in left, singling home Aybar, who hesitates around third. 2-1 Rays, and there's still nobody out.

That gets Manny Delcarmen warming up in the Boston bullpen. But Lester gets Bartlett to strike out on a pitch low and inside for the first out, and Iwamura taps back to the box slowly for the second out, moving runners to second and third with two out. He then gives up a heart-stopping foul to Pena, but Pena makes the last out of the inning on a little looping liner to short.

Top 6th: Pedroia works a full count and keeps going on an incredible 11-pitch duel that ends in a one-out walk. The Rays then put the shift on for David Ortiz, and he ends up in a full count — and Garza ends the frame on a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play as Pedroia was running on the pitch.

Aside: Who knew Brooke Shields was funny? The VW ads are hilarious. (Too bad the bit about German engineering isn't really true.)

Bottom 6th: Though the bottom of the frame is 1-2-3, it doesn't feel that way, as Longoria and Crawford both fly out to the deep part of the yard. 2-1 Rays.

Top 7th: With one out, Garza walks Drew and surrenders a single to Bay, who had previously struck out twice. Manager Joe Maddon comes out for a talk, but that's all, and he leaves him in to face Mark Kotsay with men on first and second. He lines out to right, with Drew advancing, but Kotsay continues to strand baserunners.

Varitek gets a break on a 0-1 check swing call that should have been a strike, but it doesn't matter anyway, as Varitek fouls the next one off. Garza gets Varitek to swing and miss at a pitch in the dirt, and the inning's over.

Bottom 7th: After a protracted 7-pitch battle, Willy Aybar goes yard on a shot to deep left to extend the lead to 3-1 Rays. Lester retires the next three in order.

Top 8th: Garza gets a three-hopper to short — but Bartlett botches it, the ball skips into left field, and Alex Cora reaches. That's it for Garza, who has allowed two hits to the 2007 champion Red Sox, getting a standing ovation as he exits the game.

Dan Wheeler comes in and Coco Crisp whacks one in the hole in right. Wheeler then gets Dustin Pedroia to pop out to left on a very high fly ball for the game's first out; Maddon pulls the plug on Wheeler with lefty Ortiz coming up, calling on J.P. Howell. The broadcasters remind us that Howell gave up a run yesterday against Ortiz; can he do it again?

Howell gets Ortiz to a 2-2 count after throwing one away on a 1-2 pitch and then Ortiz fouls the next one off. Ortiz spoils the next one, and he looks disgusted the whole at-bat. Finally, Big Papi hits one weakly to second, and Iwamura just barely gets the man at second for a fielder's choice. With two out, Howell leaves the game, to be replaced by Chad Bradford, who will face Kevin Youkilis with men on the corners.

Bradford goes 3-0 on Youkilis, and the Rays start warming up David Price. Bradford gets to a full count, but he walks the Greek God of Walks to load the bases. Maddon isn't taking any chances, and Bradford's gone.

Price will face Drew; it's all or nothing now. Price gets an excellently placed first-pitch strike on the outside for 0-1. Drew swings at the second pitch, a fastball, for 0-2. Price sends a fastball at 97 off the plate to go 1-2, and strikes out Drew on a check swing to end the frame and the threat.

Bottom 8th: Okajima gets the Rays out 1-2-3 to bring up the bullpen for the last three outs that stand between Tampa Bay and their first-ever World Series. Strap in, kids.

Top 9th: David Price will face Bay, Kotsay, and Varitek. He misses wildly with 0-1 and 1-1 pitches, but gets a foul to even the count with Bay. The Sox get a break on another 2-2 pitch with a bad check swing call, and Bay works a walk with no outs.

Kotsay taps a couple foul to go 0-2, and Price throws one almost over Kotsay's head for a 1-2 count. He just misses with a 95 MPH heater, 2-2, and gets him looking with the next pitch. One out, and Price stays in.

Varitek goes 1-2, and Price throws another one high. He's clearly amped. He blows a slider past the Sox' catcher, and there's two out. That brings up Jed Lowrie, who bounces out on the first pitch to Iwamura, who runs the ball himself to second for the out. The Rays are AL champions! The Rays win the pennant! The Rays win the pennant! The Rays win the pennant!

Who woulda thunk it. Congratulations to the Rays!

(Incidentally, it's David Price's first major league save!)

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Geez, for a time machine and about a thousand bucks on the Rays in Vegas- Is this the longest pre-season shot to make the Series ever? All glory to Joe Maddon and his players- he's already Manager of the Century as far as I'm concerned.
Finally, finally, order is restored to the universe. There is a god.
And, we don't have to listen to the Fox announcers genuflect before every pitch at the endless awesomeness of the Red Sox, on whose ground we are unworthy to tread.
way to go Joe Maddon and the Rays! The difference in the Angels ALDS was Lester outpitched Lackey. With the Rayus, the difference was Garza outpitched Lester. Arte is thinking right - go get Sabathia. Also, by whatever means (draft, international signings), I hope the Angels management starts a renewed emphasis on internal player development. We have slipped since the first part of the decade with our farm talent - the Rays validated the way a team should be built.

as an aside, TBS took a lot of flak for the TV delay in Game 6 (didn't affect me, I only had MLB audio), but i think kudos are in order for MLB to start the game anyway without a TV broadcast (gasp!). It made a lot of fans upset to miss an inning, but it was a better option than delaying the game just for tellyvision.
Brian -- the highest the Angels have drafted in recent years was 12th overall to nab Jered Weaver in 2004. The Rays, on the other hand, picked the following (overall pick number in parentheses):

2000 - (8) Rocco Baldelli (also James Shields in the 16th round)
2001 - (3) Dewon Brazleton (also Joey Gathright in the 32nd round, who became reliever J.P. Howell)
2002 - (2) B.J. Upton (also Elijah Dukes in the 3rd round)
2003 - (1) Delmon Young (who became Matt Garza)
2004 - (4) Jeff Niemann (also Andy Sonnanstine in the 13th round)
2005 - (8) Wade Townsend
2006 - (3) Evan Longoria
2007 - (1) David Price
2008 - (1) Tim Beckham

Give the Angels those kinds of picks and I'm sure they would do even better. As the A's are now discovering, there's only so much you can do with high draft picks. The Angels have been squandering their high picks on mediocre (GMJ) free agents.
yes, i know the Rays talent that played key roles in their AL Pennant came through very high draft picks while we haven't had the opportunity. They been bad for so long and with that came the perrenial #1 selection so it was difficult to mess that up.

However, our farm system has slid, and as you point out, we've squandered the picks we had for sometimes mediocre free agents.

Honestly, I'm concerned about two things - we were last (30 of 30) in $$ spent this year in the draft (and were very low in 2007 also). Also, the A's and Rangers got a lot of kudos for some international signings and we haven't been playing that game either very well either lately.

If we can sign Tex or any other top FA this winter, we should have 4 extra draft picks (for losing Tex and KRod) - here's hoping we get some strong talent for them.

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