Game 7 Shootout Set for Rays and Red Sox
How many people do you think in Tampa Bay did not buy a game 7 ticket thinking it would never get this far. I can honestly say I predicted 6 games, and to think a 7th is going on tonight is not only amazing, but the best Sunday night entertainment in St. Petersburg since the advent of TIVO.
Seriously, how many of you around the country were cursing the throwing things at your big screens when TBS (This Broadcast Sucks) network made their 2008 rendition of the “Heidi Game”.I am going to name the 2008 model, “Harvey-gate”.
I can tell you I got about 5 really fast texts telling me about it, and you know I can not wait to blast an established company for something as dumb as forgetting to pop a switch.
But I am here to chat about the import ramifications of a Game 7 to our Rays. I honestly would love to know how many local fans did not even purchase a Game 7 ticket online before today. I know the local hype had everyone going nuts about the possibile celebration last night, but if you really think about it, a Game 7 just could be the re-birth of the Rays-way.
All year long when the count was against them, with 2-outs and no one on base, we have come back 31 times. At home we have lost 2 out of 3 to Boston in this series, but we did the same to them in their house. So the slate is clean, and who ever wins tonight, gets to play another day. It is just that plain and simple tonight. The Rays just have to decide if they are done playing baseball this season, or of they still want to play 7 more games.
Last night’s game was exciting from first pitch to the last with explosive homers by both teams and a umpire controversy/injury, and let’s not forget “Harvey-gate”. But Rays Manger Joe Maddon summed it up best last night when he was referring to the style of game we were playing as the old style of the Devilrays, and not his Rays.
If you have been a fan of the team for a long time, you remember the “Hit Show” fiasco. that was the high-powered trio of Fred McGriff, Vinny Castillo, and Jose Canseco brought in to make the Trop a hitting man’s dream. the trio, and their 22 other players’ relied too much on the hype of the long ball and did not produce as well as advertised.
The Rays right now are also trying to sit behind the long balls and hope, pray and wish for the last win they need to go to the next level. That is not the personality of the 2008 Rays. This is a team that take what you give them and makes you pay by timely hitting and stealing bases like they were lotto prizes. This is a team who’s pitching surprised and eluded you. Who could be counted on to make it a close game up until the last out in the 9th inning. This is a team that played like 12-year olds going for the free pizza and sodas after the game.
This team has lost it’s mojo of sorts. It is losing it’s personality on the bases, and losing its focus at the plate. I am proud of the fact the B J Upton and Evan Longoria are striking a huge blow with their bats, but the other 7 guys have to step to the same beat and smack the heck out of the ball to all fields.
Not just out of the fields, but out of the reach of fielders, fans and most of all, Kevin Youkilis. Come on guys, if for nothing else, we should win to hear him cry like a whinny baby about no respect and the Red Sox have to go golfinf now until the frozen ground makes it impossible to play.
Cliff Floyd still has that passion deep inside him. On the play where he hit the ball down the line to Mark Kotsay, he hustled to the bag and did not give an inch. He drove through the bag even though Josh Beckett was heading there for the ball. Even after the ball was in Beckett’s mitt, Floyd was still churning and burning in case of a missed foot or a bad catch. That is the 2008 Rays style. Hustle until you are exhausted, treat every play like a game winner. That is the mystical spirit that has been missing the last few games.
The 2007 Rays watched the games, the 2008 Rays won those games. Even if it was a 5 runs behind, there was never a dead look on their faces. The 2008 team stood above the crowd by having an emotional edge that no one could describe or duplicate. It was a team first mentality that had made this team the National darling in the eyes of true baseball fans.
So tonight we put the biggest game in the franchsies history solely in a former Twin’s 1st round pick. People forget that Matt Garza is a prime time stud. He had the task if going against the guy the Boston’s papers dubbed the second coming of Clemens and defeated him pitch for pitch. Seriously, did you really think you were going to get any less from Garza.
He had no pressure on him in that start. the World had already given the Red Sox the game, without a single pitch being thrown. All he did was go 6 innings and gave up 6-hits and a solo run in the outing. He earned the win while Lester got shell-shocked by a Rays barrage from the 2-3-4 hitter unseen by him this year. Garza got the win in a game that was given to the Red Sox before the first pitch was thrown.
With his confidence and his mental fortitude, most pitchers would have mailed the game in and just cruised to their final pitch. But Garza has been a changed man since that blow-up in Texas this summer. He has found a renewed energy and a vitality that is a spark to this young pitching staff. Do not forget he is only one of three pitchers who can hurt you in a variety of ways on this squad.
Sooner or later the entire nation will see what we already know about Matt Garza….. He is a big-time gamer, who loves the pressures of competition. He is the man on the mound tonight and as Garza goes, the Rays shall follow tonight.
You know what sight I would love to see tonight after the game, it would be the sight of Jonathan Papelbon slumping over the Dugout railing. Lat time he pitched in Boston he had Papelbon downtrodden, hopefully he will get no chance to make a difference in this game tonight.