What’s another couple nights when you’ve waited 28 years?
That’s what Phillies fans had to be thinking as they watched their team win the World Series last night, completing the suspended Game 5 by outlasting the tough Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, and capping off another memorable October.
Here are my final, or should I say Phinal, thoughts:
* The hallmark of this Philadelphia team has to be its resilience, and they showed it right away, getting the go-ahead run in the sixth, answering right back after Rocco Baldelli’s game-tying homer, and leaving it up to Brad Lidge, who has been spectacular all year.
* Can’t say enough about Cole Hamels, a deserving Series MVP. He didn’t get the win in Game 5, but four wins in one postseason is fantastic, and he set the tone for the whole Fall Classic with his pitching in Game 1.
* The Rays are a scary-good team when you consider that most of these guys were in their first October and a lot of the talent in the organization hasn’t even made it to the Major Leagues yet. Boston and the Yankees have a lot to worry about in 2009 and beyond.
Well, that’s it for me. Thanks for participating in my blog throughout October.
I’m going to take a little time off before I start thinking about baseball again.
After all, the Winter Meetings are in less than two months …
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 Red Sox just won’t go away, and their heart, character and ability — not to mention the very good Tampa Bay Rays — is making this American League Championship Series one of the best ever. Saturday night’s Game 6 was tense and tight, with long balls providing the bulk of the scoring and Red Sox starter Josh Beckett doing just enough to get to his dominant bullpen in Boston’s 4-2 win that forces tonight’s winner-take-all Game 7.
Here are a few blog-servations:
* The Rays’ bullpen needs a big rebound, but if starter Matt Garza can tap into the talent that makes him almost unhittable from time to time, the Rays won’t need the bullpen at all.
* Kevin Youkilis is starting to look like he did in the 2007 postseason. Even when he makes an out, which is rare these days, the ball is usually crushed. Expect big things from him in Game 7.
* Jason Varitek might have finally gotten into a groove with that home run, but more important for the Sox is the fact that David Ortiz looks like his swing is back. I’m still waiting for that magic Big Papi moment.
* Regardless of what happens in Game 7, we’ve got ourselves a heck of an American League East rivalry for years to come. Win or lose, the Rays have more than proved they’re for real.
What are your thoughts about Game 7 and beyond? Does the AL have what it takes to beat the Phillies in the World Series?
Sometimes not much needs to be said to describe incredible, almost miraculous moments. Here’s one you might have seen, oh, early this morning:
Not since 1929 has a team been seven or more runs down in a postseason game and still rallied to win. But we shouldn’t be surprised by the Boston Red Sox anymore, should we? Many of these players were on the 2004 team that was down 3-0 to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series and won. Many of these players were on last year’s team that was down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS and won. Terry Francona managed all three clubs. There’s history there. And heart, which is the most important thing of all.
I’m not sure what the day off does to the surging Red Sox, who have the momentum, or the dazed Rays, who have to be devastated that they couldn’t close out a game in which they had a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning with one of the best bullpens in the game all lined up. We’ll see what these young guys are made of.
Will Joe Maddon’s strategy of pitching Scott Kazmir on Thursday and having James Shields ready for a possible — and now definite — Game 6 back at Tropicana Field pay off?
Will the Red Sox defy the odds yet again and win two in a row on the road to make it to their second straight World Series?
Let’s hear your predictions.
For the first time in 15 years, the Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series, and if you don’t believe it, watch this:
When Carlos Ruiz squeezed that final out in Dodger Stadium last night, the Phils had beaten the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 5, and locked up the National League pennant for the first time since 1993, when they lost a true Fall Classic to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Whoever the Phillies end up playing will have a lot to deal with: Jimmy Rollins showed how dangerous he can be last night, setting the tone for Game 5 with a leadoff homer.
And with NL Championship Series MVP Cole Hamels set to start Game 1 of the World Series, the American League team will have its hands full right away, just like the Dodgers did Wednesday night.
Then there’s the Phillies offense, with table-setters Rollins and Shane Victorino and the heart of the powerful order, with Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard. Oh, and then there’s Brad Lidge, the closer who hasn’t blown a save all year.
In other words, a lot to think about for the AL manager once he gets his team to where the Phillies are right now.
How do you think the Phillies stack up against the Rays or Red Sox? And will the Rays wrap it up tonight in Boston?
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 Dodgers needed to win Sunday’s game in a huge way in their return to Chavez Ravine, and they showed some serious passion and power to get it done and cut the Phillies’ National League Championship Series lead to 2-1. Here are some random thoughts on Game 3:
DODGERS 7, PHILLIES 2
Blake DeWitt’s been a surprising key for the Dodgers at various times this year, and his first hit of the series was the triple that broke it open right away. He has a big-time future but seems comfortable in the here and now.
Hiroki Kuroda might not speak English very well, but he speaks the language of the unwritten code of baseball just fine, apparently. Just ask Shane Victorino.
The importance of a healthy Rafael Furcal can’t be underestimated for this team. If he can continue what he did Sunday at the top of the Dodgers’ order, the boys in blue could run the table in this series.
Today’s a big day, with Derek Lowe pitching on three days of rest for the Dodgers in Game 4 tonight, and Game 3 of the American League Series in the Fenway Park shadows, with Matt Garza pitching for the Rays against Jon Lester of the Red Sox.
How’s everything going to shake down today?
I want your predictions.
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.
You always see something you’ve never seen when you watch an October baseball game, and Friday night was no different. Let’s recap Game 1 of the American League Championship Series and Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
PHILLIES 8, DODGERS 5
Who would have thought that Brett Myers would beat the Dodgers — with his bat? Without his 3-for-3 night and three RBIs, he might have lost that game. Instead, the Phillies head out to Chavez Ravine with a 2-0 lead, only two more wins from the World Series. And they’re doing it without much help from Ryan Howard, who’s due to get hot at any moment now. The Dodgers got a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come for the boys in blue.
RED SOX 2, RAYS 0
Another first took place Friday night — the first October baseball game at Tropicana Field in St. Pete. It was great to see that yard packed to the gills, and for the Red Sox Fans who flew south, it was great to see Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson and Jonathan Papelbon shut down the Rays in a 2-0 victory that gave their team the upper hand with a pivotal 1-0 victory on the road. Matsuzaka was the man, as he’s been all year, striking out nine in seven shutout frames and repeatedly getting out of trouble. Offensively, it was Kevin Youkilis’ night, with three hits and the insurance RBI late in the game.
The Rays will try to regroup tonight with Scott Kazmir. I’m looking forward to seeing how this lefty stacks up against one of the best postseason pitchers alive, Boston’s Josh Beckett.
Who do you like in this matchup tonight?
I want to hear all about it.