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 Red Sox continue to show why they’ve won two of the last four World Series titles. They flat-out know how to get it done in October, and if you didn’t believe they could win it all this year, all you had to do was watch them last night. On to Friday’s games…
RED SOX 7, ANGELS 5
The guy they got for Manny, Jason Bay, puts them on top right away with an early homer, and then J.D. Drew breaks a tie with a two-run blast off K-Rod in the ninth! In other words, the Red Sox can taste another title, and going up 2-0 on the road against the team with the best record in baseball is pretty impressive in my book. The Angels have to be wondering what’s going on, losing their Major League-record 11th straight October game against the Sox. Fenway and a possible early clincher awaits …
RAYS 6, WHITE SOX 2
The tone-setting homer by Akinori Iwamura, the lockdown bullpen, the late insurance runs. It was a textbook October victory for the hometown Rays at the Trop, leading them to another 2-0 series lead heading back to Chicago. Can you believe how poised this young team seems? It’s like they’ve been playing in the postseason for years.
The weekend will be wild, with all four series possibly ending early in sweeps. Let me know who you think will get it done right away and who you think has the goods to pull off a stunner and take three straight.
You know I’ll be watching.
Three Division Series Game 1s yesterday and already more than a few surprises. And isn’t that typical of October?
Let’s go game by game.
PHILLIES 3, BREWERS 1
It isn’t surprising that Cole Hamels dealt the way he did, but the Brewers, particularly Yovani Gallardo, showed a lot of poise for a young team that has practically no postseason experience to speak of. If the Brew Crew can clean up a few mistakes, this might become a very competitive series very quickly — especially when CC gets his say. Here’s Chase Utley’s big hit in the third inning.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
Now I didn’t expect this one. Who would have thought the best team in the National League would go down at home in Game 1 in the 100th anniversary year of their last World Series title? But James Loney had the big hit, the grand slam in the fifth inning, Manny and Russell Martin homered later, and that was all she wrote. The Cubs will have to regroup in a hurry tonight, but their big horse, the Big Z, is on the hill, so Cubs Nation has to be feeling good about that.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 1
The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year and were at home with their ace, John Lackey, in Game 1, but the same old same old happened again — the Red Sox beat them in October. This time it was lefty Jon Lester giving the Angels hitters fits and the newest member of the defending world champs’ outfield doing most of the damage.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
And what’s going to happen tonight as the Rays-White Sox series starts and two other series continue?
Let me know.
There were almost too many big-time Trade Deadline deals to blog about, but the fact that every single one of these guys has breathed new life into his new team has made it a lot easier to keep track of.
Seriously, did anyone really expect such immediate returns on their investments?
Check out the new guy in the No. 99 uniform at Dodger Stadium. I’m telling you … Manny isn’t just being Manny … he’s being the Man.
The Angels have got to be kidding me. The best record in the game and now a trade for at least a few months of Mark Teixeira? Sick.
And I should have known the Yankees would load up again. This time they got a nice haul, including a Hall of Fame catcher in Pudge Rodriguez. What does that mean? It means watch out, Red Sox and Rays.
Then again, Boston isn’t exactly hurting from the Manny deal, not when they brought in a great fit like slugger Jason Bay.
Every one of these teams is in the hunt for October and every one of these teams might have gotten just a little bit better, which means baseball got A LOT better … and A LOT more confusing. I think maybe I have to take a few more hours at the computer to figure this all out again, but it’s tough when you’ve got the Postseason on your mind.