Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Red Sox Went to Fight, But the Rays Never Showed Up

Someone needs to call down to Tampa Bay and send the message. This is the height of the playoff race. Now is the time to get down to business. The Rays have impressed everyone all season, never more so than taking two out of three games from the Red Sox last week in Boston. Now is the time for them to drive the nail home and take what they have fought for all season long. I was looking forward to a real battle between these two teams yesterday. Scott Kazmir against Daisuke Matsuzaka, both teams vying for possession of first place, late September drama.

David OrtizWhat did we get? We got a spring training game. Kazmir opened the game walking the first two batters on 8 straight pitches, then surrendered a 3 run home run to David Ortiz. That was just the beginning. Mike Lowell hit a solo home run to put the Sox on top 4-0 after one inning. Home runs were the theme, with the Red Sox hitting a season high 6 home runs last night to score 13 runs. By the 5th inning, with the Sox leading 11-1, the game was over. In the 6th inning, Terry Francona started getting all his backup in the game for extra work and gave his starters some rest. The Rays sent Mitch Talbot out to replace Kazmir in the 4th inning. This was Talbot's major league debut - being sent out to take one for the team! Mitch pitched 3 innings, and allowed 4 more runs to score. He save the bullpen some wear and tear, but did not have a distinguished start to his career.

Scott KazmirI guess Terry Francona felt a little sorry for the Rays, and rather than have the gave get too out of hand, he send in a Chris Smith present for them (pronounced Christmas). Chris Smith brought gifts of two run home runs, surrendering one in each of the two innings he pitched. But, driving up the score from 13-1 to 13-5 will not show up on Red Sox radar, so no worries there.

The only real Red Sox concern was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who remains a bit of a mystery. He get the win, setting the single season record for Japanese born pitchers at number 17. He also only allowed 1 run on 3 hits and two walks, and struck out 7 batters in 5 innings. Pretty good, right? Absolutely. But, did you know he needed 101 pitches to do it? 101 pitches to get through 5 innings, but only allowed 1 run? That worked last night, but in the playoffs, I'd sure love to see him get deeper into the game than that!

Mike LowellMaybe the problem for the Rays is a lack of fan support. I am excited at the emerging talent on the Rays, and I would vote wholeheartedly to get them moved to someplace that cares. Maybe the Rays took two out of 3 in Boston last week because they could feel the playoff intensity in the air. Last night, possibly the biggest baseball game played to date in Tropicana Field, only 29,722 fans bothered to show up. The seating capacity at the Trop is 43,772. That means the dome was only 68% full! Of those 29,722 fans, at least 10,000 were Red Sox fans. How can a team truly get into playoff mode in that atmosphere? Just sickens me.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Suldog said...

Well, hell, would YOU go to The Trop? It is, IMHO, the most hideous field in MLB.

Good start by the boys. Follow up tonight and we've got something good!

Rooster said...

Good point! Which is all the more reason those hard-working ball players deserve to move!

That said, here's to Beckett taking us into sole possession of first tonight!