Tampa Bay Rays


David Price has been an ace from the beginning.

David Price has been an ace from the beginning.

Settling in for last night’s tie-breaker between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers, I think I was running on inertia. This was an important game, the extra game tagged on to the regular season to see which of these two teams would advance to the other one-game playoff to see who had the right to enter the actual playoffs.

There’s a fatigue with all this, and early in the game, I wasn’t feeling too excited. David Price was on the mound for the Rays, Martin Perez for Texas, and neither seemed to really have it early on. But that changed, and as the game went on, Price got better. He found his command, he kept the Rangers off-balanced and, 118 pitches later, he got Nelson Cruz to ground out for the last out of the game. Texas goes home for the winter, and the Rays play on. (more…)

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This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

This is Tuukka Rask. He does not play baseball.

Last night, the Red Sox were down to their final strike when Will Middlebrooks, batting against Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, laced a change-up into the outfield for a bases-clearing double. The Sox went up 4-3, Junichi Tazawa picked up the win in relief, and if I’m imagining the scenario correctly, most of the crowd went home happy, since this took place in Tampa and no one there seems to care about the Rays one way or the other.

Apparently, it was a hell of an at-bat for Middlebrooks, who is rebounding from a minor slump and on his way back towards the torrid pace he carried through April, when the Red Sox were busy surprising a jaded fan base and sitting in first place. The mighty Jon Couture actually has a great breakdown of Middlebrooks’ at-bat here, complete with his growing patience and his success reading the pitcher and the situation.

They’re a game back of the Yankees this afternoon for the top spot of the American League East, and they’re playing some fun games, even when they lose. But don’t ask me about details, because I’ve missed all of them lately. Simply, it’s because the Bruins are in the playoffs, and it is functionally impossible for me to concentrate or devote any sort of emotional focus on the Red Sox when this is the case. (more…)

Jacoby Ellsbury has had a season to remember, even if the Red Sox aren't.

When I returned to my unseasonably hot apartment last night, the Red Sox were locked into an extra-inning affair with the New York Yankees, the second half of a doubleheader courtesy of Friday’s rain. With a loss, they would be tied with the Tampa Bay Rays in the race for the American League wild card, unthinkable just three weeks ago, when the Sox, along with the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, were the titans of baseball.

Obviously, Red Sox fans are not pleased. As a group, they’re looking for answers. But too many are just looking for someone to blame. Is it starting pitching? Does Theo Epstein need to be fired? What about Terry Francona?

Others are casting blanket statements around, calling this entire team unlikeable and flawed from the start. Certain Boston columnists (who won’t get the benefit of a link in this space) are saying that, should the Red Sox manage to advance to the playoffs, they won’t deserve their slot.

It’s a lot of passion mixed with hot air, arrogance and entitlement. And it really demonstrates how losing can bring out the worst in a fan base. (more…)

See that? Now that’s a line score.

Sixteen innings, eight combined hits, no errors. Both starting pitchers went eight innings, and a run didn’t cross the plate until the top of the sixteenth, more than five hours after the first pitch. And at 1:49 a.m. Monday morning, it was all over.

Is there anything he can't do?

The Red Sox had outlasted the Rays in a memorable marathon, Boston spurred on by another outstanding start by Josh Beckett (8 innings, 6 strikeouts, 1 hit, no walks) and carried on by the bullpen.

It was the kind of game that made me feel like a kid. When it ended, I was in bed, listening along with the radio, knowing full well I should have been asleep long before. But I couldn’t totally tune it out. I stopped watching on ESPN earlier, fully expecting that the game would end shortly and I could just flick the power button on my stereo from bed.

That was after the ninth inning.

No, this was a game that no one seemed to want. Pitchers flowed in and out of the game — Boston used six, Tampa Bay used nine. Runners were left stranded in scoring position. Great plays were made to steal runs.

And, finally, Dustin Pedroia delivered, driving in Josh Reddick for the winning run in the sixteenth inning. (more…)

The first step in rearranging baseball? Bring the Brewers back to the American League.

Seemingly on cue every 15 years or so, baseball talks realignment. First reports were that it was inevitable that the leagues would go even at 15, with interleague play lasting throughout the season. Now, commissioner Bud Selig says that talk of realignment being definitely on for the 2012 season was premature.

Either way, there are a few parts of the system that have bugged me for a while. Having three divisions, an unbalanced schedule and uneven teams has never looked or felt right, so why not take this opportunity to right a few wrongs?

Well, I’ve had this idea, so we’re doing this. Grab a pen, pay attention, and get ready for the new-look majors, according to these five steps: (more…)

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