Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red Sox control the Rays 4-2, force Game 7

By JC De La Torre

Experience is showing for the Boston Red Sox against the Tampa Bay Rays. It showed in Game 5, when the Rays began their AL pennant celebration 7 outs early and suffered the worst collapse in American League playoff history. Tonight, the Red Sox showed the Rays how its done, as they took control midway through the ball game and shut the door on the Tampa Bay offense, beating the Rays 4-2 in Game 6 of the ALCS.

The Red Sox are now 9-0 under Manager Terry Francona when facing elimination in the ALCS. Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields, nicknamed "Big Game James" didn't look the part in this one. He struggled to find his control and honestly looked like Scott Kazmir, walking guys and having extended at bats.

BJ Upton would give the Rays an early lead in the first with a solo homer to left that clanked off the catwalk. Kevin Youklis would answer in the 2nd, with a solo shot to deep left center, after two it was 1-1.

In the 3rd, Youklis would strike again, getting a ground out to shortstop, the Rays allowed Dustin Pedroia to score as they attempted to prevent the big inning. It would remain 2-1 until the bottom of the 5th, when Jason Bartlett, who homered only once during the regular season, caught an offspeed pitch and wrapped it around the left field foul pole to tie it at 2.

James Shields would fall apart in the 6th, allowing Jason Varitek - who hadn't gotten a hit in the series, to hit a solo shot to first row of right center field, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 advantage. Coco Crisp would get an infield single off of Shields, ending his day after 5 and 2/3, allowing 9 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), walking 3 and only striking out 3. JP Howell would check in and promptly get a ground ball from Pedroia to Bartlett - inning over....or NOT as Bartlett threw it into the Rays dugout. New life for the Sox with 2 outs. David "Big Papi" Ortiz woud bloop a hit into right center, scoring Coco Crisp and the Sox held their 4-2 advantage.

Josh Beckett looked solid in his outing, giving the Sox 5 innings, scattering 4 hits and allowing the two home runs, while striking out 3. Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson, and Jonathan Papelbon woud not allow any hits, shutting down the hot Rays hitters for the final four innings.

So, the Rays lose their 2nd straight and for the first time in their history, face elimination. Its been one heck of a season and heck of a run for Tampa Bay, it would be a shame to see it end on such a dissapointing note. The Rays do know that Boston has yet to beat the Rays in consecutive games at Tropicana Field this season. Of course, we all know Boston's history.

Matt Garza will go up against the Red Sox Ace pitcher, Jon Lester. The Rays battered Lester the last time they faced him, but they battered Beckett too, and all he did tonight was 4 hit the Rays.

Its win or go home for Tampa Bay and Boston....Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Can the Rays recover and handle the magnitude of a Game 7 or will the Boston experience by the difference?

One thing is certain - in a Game 7, anything can happen.


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