If the cover of Tropicana Field were ever to come off its hinges, it would have happened last night when the Tampa Bay Rays finally knocked off the defending champion Red Sox in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series. Have you ever heard that place that loud? Unreal. What a series. From the epic back-and-forth, five-hours-plus Game 2 to the sick comeback by the Sox in Game 5 to the nail-biter of a Game 7 pitchers’ duel with Matt Garza outpitching Jon Lester and rookie David Price closing it out, there was something for everyone.
And now the Rays go from worst to first to the World Series, with the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies heading to St. Pete for a Wednesday night Game 1 date.
Before we get those blog posts started, here’s a quick rundown of Game 7:
* I wonder how many Boston fans thought it was going to be a rout when they saw my AL MVP this year, Dustin Pedroia, do this to Garza in the first inning:
* I wonder how many Rays fans, including Dick Vitale, breathed a huge sigh of relief when they saw Evan Longoria tie it up:
* And what about Willy Aybar? Seriously … the dude has been raking all October, bringing to mind countless unsung heroes that spring to life at the right time of year.
* Two words. David. Price.
So … let’s get the World Series started already!
Give me your picks and let’s get some discussions going. Only two more days until showtime!
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.
Does anybody remember Francisco Cabrera? I know you do if you live in Atlanta, and I bet you do if you’re from Pittsburgh, too. Here’s a quick reminder of who he is, in case you forgot:
How about Yadier Molina? Do you recall what he did two years ago in New York?
See what I’m getting at? Every Postseason has guys just like these: hard-working players who raise their game when everything is on the line in October.
For every Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Kirby Puckett and Big Papi, there are a bunch of scrappy role players like Bernie Carbo, Bucky Dent, Lenny Dykstra, Dan Gladden, Otis Nixon, Craig Counsell, Juan Uribe and David Eckstein who are instrumental in flat-out getting the job done.
Who’s it going to be this year? Well, we’ve got most of September to ponder that question.
I know I’ve got a few in mind already.
Here’s one who plies his trade just outside L.A.:
And here’s another one in Boston, sizzling at the right time.
There are almost too many to choose from, but the beauty of October is that the right players will choose the moments for all of us.
So who’s it going to be? Comment below and let’s talk about it.