Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sox - Rays Rivalry Heats Up

Over the past few years, under Lou Piniella, the Sox and Devil Rays have had their share of heated scuffles, but the smoldering emotions never quite lit into an all out fire. Those smoldering embers got fanned into a dull red glow last night when Coco Crisp, during an attempted steal in the 8th inning, slid hard into second base with a take out slide of Akinori Iwamura. Coco's slide was intentionally hard, and was done in retaliation for Rays' shortstop Jason Bartlett who blocked second base with a knee in the 6th inning when Coco slid in head first in a successful steal. The dropped knee caused Coco jam his hand and sprain his thumb. He stayed in the game, but may get a night or two off, depending on how the thumb feels today.

Coco CrispCoco had hoped Jason Bartlett would take his own medicine and cover second in the 8th, but Crisp was ticked off enough that whoever was covering was going down. Ray's manager, Joe Maddon, was not pleased and let Crisp know it. Keep your eye on this situation. If Lou was still in charge of the Rays, there would be a price to pay tonight, but I'm not sure what will happen under Joe Maddon. The Rays are trying to convince the world they are for real, and deserve respect. They have been beaten down these past two games as they watched the Red Sox strip them of first place. Their star slugger, Carlos Pena, has just been placed on the DL with a cracked finger bone resulting from being hit by a pitch from Justin Masterson on Tuesday night, they have watched as the Sox have terrorized them on the bases, and now have this situation to deal with. This young team may not be able to contain their composure. Tensions are up, will the Rays handle it and simply play hard to regain first place with a win, or will they blow up and let emotions get the best of them?

And what did manager Terry Francona think of all this? "I went down to the bathroom", said Terry after the game. "I missed the rest of it. I was trying to get my zipper up. It wasn't going as fast as I wanted it to", he added. Man, getting old is tough!

Josh BeckettJosh Beckett pitched well, but not great last night. He avoided a scare when his mud-clogged cleat slid on the mound during a pitch. Luckily no damage was done, but out of caution, Terry Francona pulled Beckett after 6 innings with the score 4-1. Three of the Sox runs had come in the 3rd inning, with Jacoby Ellsbury, JD Drew, and Manny Ramirez each driving in one run. JD has been turning up the power with Big Papi out of the lineup. Enough so that Francona inserted him in Papi's #3 spot in the lineup. Drew did not disappoint, going 2 for 3 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and a run batted in.

The bullpen, barring Hideki Okajima's meltdown a few days ago, has been stellar lately. Last night was more of the same. Manny Delcarmen wiped the Rays out with 3 straight strike outs in the 7th inning. Okajima looked more like his old self in the 8th inning, allowing a leadoff single, but setting the next three batters down in a row. Craig Hansen, giving Papelbon a night of rest, was able to mop things up in the ninth inning with a leadoff walk the only damage done. Hansen continues to look like a valuable addition to the relief corps. The Sox already have a top rate starting rotation. If the bullpen continues to perform as they have this past week, there will be no stopping this team.

Jon Lester takes the hill at an early 6:05 start time, and I am guessing that Coco Crisp will get a night to rest his thumb, Manny will return to left field, and Chris Carter will get his first start for Boston in the DH slot. The Red Sox, in a gracious gesture, have moved up the start time of tonight's game by one hour in deference to game one of the Celtics - Lakers NBA Championship game at 9:00. They are trying to give fans a chance to watch the Red Sox game, without overlapping the Celtics game. The Boston sports scene is simply buzzing. Within 12 months we've had the Sox win a World Series, the Patriots reach the Superbowl on the back of an unbeaten season, the Bruins at least made the payoffs, and now the Celtics are renewing an old rivalry in the NBA Championships.

In the DVD Giveaway Contest, the Red Sox won last night, scoring 5 runs, but had no home runs and Jacoby Ellsbury did not steal a base. While things will certainly certainly continue to change, the leader today remains Insight, with Fenway West in a close second. Rich M and MCG from Spain are right behind. As the stats pile up, those who guessed on the high side will begin to keep into the lead. Stay tuned.

(Photos Courtesy of Yahoo Sports)


gingerly said...

Great write-up, R. You bring the game back to me vividly. I confess that once I've slept, the game fades a bit. But I come here the next day and you bring it back to life for me and fire me up again.

I cannot wait for us to win tonight.

Fenway West said...

come on Jacoby, get on your horse, I need some new DVD's.

Great writeup as always rooster.

Rooster said...

Thanks G, and FW! Always nice to hear!

I am definitely curious if there will be any further tensions tonight.

Ellsbury has been a base stealing machine lately - so I expect him to keep racking them up until someone proves they can stop him.

Anonymous said...

I'm also enjoying your vivid writing and watching the Roadrunner Rooster :) And I can't wait for both of tonight's games! I don't think that there will be as much tension if Coco has the night off (otherwise, there may have been some fireworks).

Also regarding Tito's comment, tell him to use Manny's behind the scoreboard outhouse next time LOL

Suldog said...

It IS fun having someone other than the Yankees challenging us.


Rooster said...

Caroline & Sul - thanks for stopping by!

I thought Tito's comments were very funny. He was obviously trying to make light of it all.

redsox.njdevils said...

At first, I thought you made up Tito's quote. I was thinking "Man, that Rooster is just so funny!", but then I was reading an article and saw it there, too!

Caroline, you called it with the fireworks! That was a pretty intense brawl!

Rooster said...

I'll be posting about last night in a bit - saw that one coming from a mile away.

Brit - sometimes real life is funnier than anything you can make up. I probably should have assured people I had not invented the quote - it does sound like a joke.