Tuesday, October 14, 2008

De Ja Vu All Over Again - Rays Rip Sox - Within 1 Gm of the World Series

By JC De La Torre

This wasn't supposed to happen. The young Rays were supposed to falter under the bright lights of the post season, on the road in Fenway Park - home of the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox. Following a 9-1 facewash of Sox in Game 3, the Tampa Bay Rays destroyed Boston for the second consecutive night, this time reaching double figures with a 13-4 victory.

Andy Sonnanstine pitched a superb 7 1/3 innings for the Rays, giving up six hits and 4 runs (2 earned). Carl Crawford was 5 for 5 with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored. Willy Aybar was 4 for 5 with a homer and 5 RBIs.

But today would belong to the offense, as the Rays ripped Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield from the very beginning. Pena opened the scoring with a 2 run homer over the monster, and was followed by Evan Longoria's blast into the monster seats. Suddenly, Tampa Bay was up 3-0 before the Sox even came to the plate.

After a scoreless second, the Rays would pad their lead with a 2 run homer by Willie Aybar to make it 5-0. In the bottom frame of the 3rd, Kevin Cash would get Boston on the board with a solo shot to left field to cut it to 5-1.

After a scoreless 4th and the Rays added a run in the 5th on an Aybar single, the flood gates opened in the 6th. With Manny Delcarmen pitching for the Sox, he struck out Perez for the first out of the inning. Jason Bartlett would triple to deep right center. Aki would walk, setting up BJ Upton with a scoring opportunity. Upton would rip a single to left, scoring Bartlett to make it 7-1. Delcarmen would proceed to walk Pena and Longoria, walking in the 8th run. Lopez would relieve Delcarmen, but apparently didn't get much of a warm up. Carl Crawford would single in Upton. Aybar would single in Pena and Navarro would ground out, scoring Longoria. After 5 1/2, the Rays had a commanding 11-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 7th, David Ortiz would triple for the Sox, and Kevin Youklis would ground out on a fielder's choice, scoring Ortiz to cut it to 11-2. Both teams would exchange two runs in the 8th inning and after a quiet top half of the 9th by the Rays, Tampa Bay took a 13-4 advantage into the bottom of the 9th for Edwin Jackson.

With this victory, the Rays now own a 3 game to 1 lead in the American League Championship Series. One more victory and they are off to the World Series. They'll have three chances to put it away, one more in Boston, the final two in St. Pete (if necessary).

The TBS announcers, ESPN pundits, and just about anyone else you can imagine all reminded us several times about how the Red Sox rallied from being down 3 games to 1 last season against the Cleveland Indians to win the ALCS and eventually the World Series. We also were reminded several times about how the Red Sox in 04 were down 3 games to 0 to Yankees, rallied, won the ALCS and their first World Series title in 86 yrs. Basically the message is until you have that 4th victory against the Red Sox, you can never count Boston out. But you know what? I don't think the Rays care about any of that. They seem obvlivious to the pressure of the situation, they've treated Game 4 of the ALCS like a game in the middle of May. For some reason, I don't believe they'll be phased by the Boston history.

Let me repeat, your Tampa Bay Rays are ONE...just ONE win away from the American League championship and a trip to the World Series.

What a year...unbelievable.

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