If that game wasn’t worth the wait, I don’t know what is. Seriously, it was almost 2 in the morning in Philadelphia when Eric Bruntlett scored the winning run in the Phillies’ 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and I was wide awake taking it all in. I’m sure you were, too.
Here are some thoughts:
* What can you say about Jamie Moyer? Dude’s going to be 46 years old next month and flat-out did his job. Too bad he didn’t get that call on the diving play at first base. He deserved it, right?
* This following clip is something that we’ve all been waiting for and something the Rays probably don’t want to see again this October.
* Either credit the Phillies’ pitching or say the Rays’ hitters left their bats in the American League Championship Series, because Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena have been absolutely silent so far in this World Series. They better get that figured out soon.
Good matchup coming tonight in Game 4, with two crafty right-handers in Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine and Philly’s Joe Blanton. Neither guy can overpower hitters, so they rely on location, deception and old-fashioned moxie. I like watching guys like that.
Let me know what you think.
The Rays have put on an unbelievable display of offense over the last three games of the American League Championship Series, but the Red Sox aren’t finished yet. Just ask anyone on the 2004 Yankees or the 2007 Indians. On to Tuesday night’s remarkable Game 4:
RAYS 13, RED SOX 4
It’s hard to pick highlight clips of the Rays’ explosion of runs, but Carlos Pena’s first-inning homer set the tone. The quiet first baseman might not be getting the headlines this October like teammates B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, but he’s been a constant in the heart of the order when he’s been healthy, and he showed why he’s so valuable last night.
Still, you can’t underestimate the importance of pitching, even in a blowout win. Andy Sonnanstine has been another unsung hero for this team, and he shut down Boston hitters all night, making him 2-0 this postseason.
And then there’s the Rays’ defense, which has been fantastic all year and was as slick as ever in Game 4.
But one thing kept gnawing at me at the end of the game, while I was watching a silent Fenway Park empty out onto Yawkey Way.
These are still the Boston Red Sox and this is still the ALCS. The Sox have been here before and the Rays haven’t. The Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit to Cleveland last year and the memorable 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in 2004. The Rays have to keep the pressure on and put them away, because they won’t go down easily.
Do you think the Rays will wrap it up in Boston on Thursday night or send it back to St. Pete?
Let me hear your thoughts.
The Rays and Red Sox took care of business Monday night, leaving us with two complete Championship Series and the next step of October — the final act before the World Series.
B.J. Upton set the tone at U.S. Cellular Field with two homers, the second one blasted right into the teeth of that famous Chicago wind, and Andy Sonnanstine and the bullpen did enough for the Rays to clinch.
In Boston, two plays helped the Red Sox close out their fourth American League Championship Series appearance in the last six years. The first was catcher Jason Varitek’s clutch putout of Reggie Willits in the top of the ninth on a botched squeeze bunt attempt by Erick Aybar.
The second was the game-winner off the bat of rookie shortstop Jed Lowrie that sent Fenway into another frenzy.
Now we get to analyze the next round in detail and prepare for what might be 14 games to decide who’s going to meet in the Fall Classic. Here are my first impressions and predictions:
ALCS: BOSTON VS. TAMPA BAY
As October-tested as the Red Sox are, I think the Rays had to be rooting for them last night. Not only does Tampa Bay now get home-field advantage in this series — the Rays, who had the best home record in baseball this season, wouldn’t have had it against the Angels — but they catch a banged-up Sox team, and those injuries are going to show up a lot more in a seven-game set than they would in five. The Rays handled the Sox well this year and have the pitching and defense to more than hang in there against the resilient defending champs. My prediction: Rays in six.
NLCS: LOS ANGELES VS. PHILADELPHIA
Take whatever you thought about the Dodgers before the Manny trade and chuck it out the window along with that leftover pepperoni calzone from Adrian and Phil’s Pizzeria. (Make sure the calzone lands in the dumpster, of course). This is an entirely different Dodgers team that has been galvanized and re-energized with the presence of that huge bat in the middle of the lineup, and their torrid September and sweep of the Cubs in the first round showed that. Nothing against the Phillies, who are loaded offensively and play well at home, but I’ve got to give a big pitching advantage to the boys in blue, and a big pitching advantage usually gets it done this time of year. My prediction: Dodgers in five.
Now it’s your turn. Let me see your predictions for both Series. We’ve got two days to talk it all over.