ALCS Game 2: The Best Rays Game of All-Time!

October 12, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Baseball, Rays | 2 Comments

Holy cow, what a game!  Since this is the first time that the Rays have made the playoffs, and last night’s game was one of the most intense and exciting postseason games that I’ve ever watched, I think it’s fair to say that it was the best Rays game of all-time!

Hopefully, by the time it’s all said and done this year, there will be other games and moments that surpass this one.  But for now, I am left to marvel at its greatness.  At 1:34 AM, five hours and 27 minutes after the first pitch, Fernando Perez sprinted from third base to home plate on a shallow fly ball hit by B.J. Upton to right field.  As he slid safely across home plate, I spontaneously jumped off the couch and ran around the living room shouting “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  My wife had fallen asleep on the other couch, but my celebration woke her up.  “So I guess the Rays won”, she said…

Truth be told, I was nervous about this game.  Joe from Cardboard Addiction kept telling me that this was a must-win game, implying that the Rays would have no chance to win the series if they did not win this game.  I don’t think that’s true, but it certainly would have been difficult and disheartening to have to overcome a 2-0 series deficit.

I knew that it wouldn’t be easy when Scott Kazmir repeated the same first inning struggles that he had in Game 2 against Chicago.  It took 38 pitches to get out of the inning and he gave up 2 runs.  I felt a lot better when Evan Longoria broke out of his slump to tie the game with a home run in the bottom of the first.  From there, it was a see-saw battle.  Dustin Pedroia homered to give Boston a 3-2 lead.  Then, B.J. Upton homered, Carl Crawford had an RBI single, and Cliff Floyd homered to make it a 5-3 Rays lead heading into the fifth inning.

That fifth inning was incredible.  It lasted almost an hour.  Both Scott Kazmir and Josh Beckett were knocked out of the game.  Boston hit three solo homers in the top half of the inning, but the Rays answered right back in the bottom half, making it 8-6.  By that point, there were already 7 home runs in the game, tying an all-time postseason record.

The game slowed down after the fifth.  The bullpens for both teams did an excellent job.  Boston did add a run in the 6th, and Dan Wheeler uncorked an unfortunate wild pitch in the 8th to tie the game at 8-8.  Despite that mistake, Wheeler was simply outstanding.  Although he rarely pitched more than one inning in any game all year, he held the Red Sox scoreless for the next 3 1/3 innings.  Untested rookie phenom David Price replaced him in the 11th inning and did a remarkable job under the pressure.  Seriously, if he had given up the winning run, it would have been horrible for his psyche to have to think about that all off-season, and it would have negatively affected him next year.

On the Boston side, Terry Francona made the right decision by bringing Jonathan Papelbon into the game to pitch the end of the 9th and the 10th inning.  In my opinion, he should have left him in to pitch the 11th.  As soon as I saw Mike Timlin, who struggled all year, on the mound, I knew that it was time for the Rays to win it.  Timlin didn’t disappoint me.  He walked Dioner Navarro, Ben Zobrist, and then walked Akinori Iwamura intentionally.  Joe Maddon smartly used Fernando Perez as a pinch runner for Navarro.  With the bases loaded and one out, B.J. Upton eked out a fly ball to shallow right field, and Perez sprinted with every ounce of effort in his body across home plate for the win!

I really think that this will be a turning point in the series.  The momentum is back with the Rays, and if they can win a game under as much pressure as they were under for all of Game 2, I really don’t think they’ll be intimidated by the Fenway Park atmosphere or by having to face Jon Lester.

The Rays just have to win three out of their next five games to be declared champions of the American League.  Time will tell if they can do it, and I can tell you that win or lose, I’ll always be extremely proud of what this team has accomplished.  But if they do it, how sweet it will be to silence all of the critics who don’t believe that the Rays can beat the mighty Red Sox!

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  1. Both teams gotta be happy. Boston took the home field advantage away and the Rays have the momentum. In the first inning, I noticed Beckett seemed to be using a different motion while pitching. I don’t know if he’s trying to be this years version of a bloody socked Curt Schilling or what. If he’s hurt he needs to shut it down, cause his velocity was down and he was throwing BP. That performance was deplorable. If I noticed, how the hell didn’t Terry Francona? He suffers sometimes from being too much of a players manager. I would rather see Paul Byrd than an injured Beckett. I still do think some of the Rays are gonna have the Hershey Squirts in Fenway come Monday. Guys like hot-headed Grant Balfour, who you failed to mention, his 0 innings, 2 walks, and a homer. He may fold under the pressure. Carlos Pena returning home will be pressing and probably over swing. Future stud, and I mean he’s gonna be nasty, David Price may have some jitters. As for Mike Timlin, I have 0 confidence in his ability to get the Rays mascott out at this point. He’s pitching on past reputation only at this point. He’s not even on the roster if Lowell isn’t injured. I stand by my prediction of Sox in 7. Dave, were you even a little disapointed you lost out on the baseball box? C’mon be honest.

  2. Joe – yes, I was definitely disappointed to miss out on getting a free box of cards from you, but the Rays win was even better!

    I can’t argue with much that you said, but I doubt that returning home will have an effect on Carlos Pena. It didn’t affect him in one of my favorite games of the year when he hit the 14th inning home run on 9/10!


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