There’s been a lot of talk about the u30ws, a.k.a. the Under-30 World Series, because 24 players in this Fall Classic are under the age of 30 — and because a new breed of young fans who weren’t even alive when the Phillies last won the World Series (1980) are pumped up about the new team from Philadephia and the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the key players in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win in Game 2 that knotted this World Series with the Phillies at a game apiece were all about u30ws, from Rays starter “Big Game” James Shields to 23-year-old reliever David Price to 20-something RBI men Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett.
Shields put a stop to the momentum the Phillies gained in their road win in Game 1, killing rally after rally with big outs like this one:
Upton didn’t have to hit a homer on this night – he set up the big two-run first inning right here:
And Price bent a little but didn’t break, going more than two innings to close out the first World Series win in Tampa Bay history:
The u30ws hits the road tomorrow, so we can get a little bit of rest before Game 3 — American League Championship Series MVP Matt Garza takes the hill against crafty vet Jamie Moyer — at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night.
Let’s get some serious conversation going before then.
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.
Two games Monday night and two statements made by the visiting teams, who now lead the Championship Series (the Phillies are up 3-1 on the Dodgers and the Rays are up 2-1 on the Red Sox). Here are some thoughts:
PHILLIES 7, DODGERS 5
It amazes me how the Phillies keep getting the job done without Ryan Howard as their main run-producing source throughout the postseason. Last night the pitching was good enough, but the power game made Dodger Stadium look like Citizens Bank Park. That huge eighth-inning rally with the line-drive, game-tying homer by Shane Victorino and that absolute monster of a game-winner by Matt Stairs showed that this team can almost taste the World Series. A different guy gets it done for them every night.
You can’t take anything away from Manny Ramirez, though. What an October he’s having. It leads me to believe that the Dodgers might have a serious interest in re-signing him, and why not? He might not have had a happy ending in Boston, but it seems like he really fits the Dodgers well and his teammates like playing with him.
RAYS 9, RED SOX 1
The Rays continue to impress me and just about everybody else who didn’t think they’d do much of anything in the American League East this year. Not only did they make their first postseason game in Fenway Park a laugher from the start, but good signs continue to pop up for this club, like B.J. Upton hitting everything in sight out of the ballpark and Matt Garza channeling his emotion in a dominant pitching performance that gave his bullpen some much-needed rest.
Everyone knows it would be silly to count out the Red Sox. They came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians in last year’s AL Championship Series and they’ve got the knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, going tonight. He’s tortured Tampa Bay throughout his career.
Let’s hear your predictions and thoughts about tonight, the LCS play moving forward, and how the World Series might set up.
The 2008 postseason got its first real epic Saturday night. There were so many twists and turns, not to mention home runs, pitchers and pitches, in that 11-inning, five-hour-and-27-minute masterpiece in St. Petersburg d that I almost can’t remember everything that happened. When the dust cleared from Tropicana Field and the uniforms of the Rays and Red Sox, the home team had a victory to knot the American League Championship Series at 1-1 heading up to Boston. Here are some O.G. blog-servations from Game 2:
RAYS 9, RED SOX 8 (11)
* One of the key moments for me was when the Rays replaced a gritty and very extended Dan Wheeler with rookie phenom David Price. The hard-throwing lefty started a little rusty but locked in with his fastball and served notice that he can be a huge weapon as this series evolves.
* The Red Sox have a heck of a Manny replacement in Jason Bay, if you haven’t figured it out already. There’s something about October that brings out the best in certain players, and Bay had waited a long time for a chance to show his stuff on the big stage. He is raking at the right time.
* What more can you say about Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis? The valuable experience of last year’s title run led to MVP-caliber regular seasons from both players, and now they’re the Rays’ pitching staff’s worst nightmares.
* B.J. Upton is getting his power groove on in these playoffs. He’s wiry and strong and has incredible bat speed, and all of a sudden he’s blasting balls out of the park left and right. When he’s squaring them up like he did against the White Sox and on his homer last night, he reminds me of Alfonso Soriano — only with a better batting eye. Scary.
* Jonathan Papelbon’s still unscored upon in postseason baseball. He added to his record-breaking run with more dominant relief work last night. The Rays can only hope they don’t have to see him again.
Needless to say, I can’t wait for Monday afternoon’s Game 3 at Fenway and for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series live from L.A.
Let me know what you thought of last night’s game and of what’s going to happen moving forward.
I want to hear from you.
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.