Saturday, October 18, 2008
It's one game playoff time
It was my contention, when the Sox were down three games to one, that the Tampa Ray (Devil) Rays, Joe Maddon’s upstarts, had better close it out in game 5 because if they had to play games 6 and 7, the pressure of the postseason might overwhelm a team that had never been there before.
We obviously know about the Sox and their amazing knack for Lazarus-like returns from the dead. Their come from behind Houdini act in game 5 sending it back to the Trop didn’t bode well for the Joe Maddon-led Rays.
When the red-hot B.J. Upton hit his fourth homer of the ALCS, Sox fans felt a tremor of concern. After Thursday night, however, the faithful knew that someone would step up soon. Youk was the man tonight, evening it up with a blast of his own, and later adding a ground out to put the Sox on top.
Jason Varitek picked himself up off the mat, breaking an 0-13 ALCS string of futility with a blast to right. Then, Jason Bartlett threw a routine groundball wide and over the head of Carlos Pena (feeling the pressure?) keeping the sixth inning alive. Big Papi added some cushion after the Bartlett miscue, with a clutch single to right center allowing Coco to trot home and the Sox were up 4-2.
All the consternation about Beckett pitching game 6 was for nought. With better command and a good breaking pitch, the veteran gave the Sox five solid innings and it was time for the Red Sox bullpen to get them to the finish line.
It was enjoyable in the 7th, to hear the Ray's fans getting restless. While I'm happy that they finally got a taste of meaningful baseball in October, you can tell that both they and their team need a bit more seasoning before being crowned major league champions.
As for CHB's column about the Rays' reaction to their game 5 meltdown, it's quite apparent to me how they're reacting.
It's Lester tomorrow for game 7 and I’m liking our chances to be going head-to-head against the Phillies in this year’s fall classic.