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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Some Nightmare Fuel

The baseball world is quickly taking notice as the Tampa Bay Rays once again knocked off the Boston Red Sox, 3-1 last night at Tropicana Field.

Boston has now lost four straight games and it looks to salvage something from Tampa before heading to New York for four (not three like I said) games with the Yankees.

Is there a better top three of a rotation than Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza? If you asked me after last night, I'd say probably not. Following up Shields' fine performance Monday, Garza was great last night.

The young right-hander went to 7-4 after seven innings. He gave up one unearned run on five hits with three strikeouts. Reliever J.P. Howell struck out two of the three men he faced (he walked the other) and substitute closer Grant Balfour recorded four outs for his second save of the season. Troy Percival was placed on the DL after last night's game.

Boston's (50-36) offense continued to scuffle without Ortiz. It doesn't help that Jacoby Ellsbury has been slumping big time, same goes for Manny. And Jason Varitek? He pinch hit and struck out twice last night, the captain is currently enduring the worst slump of his career.

Tampa Bay (51-32) and the Red Sox both had six hits but the Rays made those count a little more.

Tim Wakefield (5-6) pitched well but didn't get any run support. Wake went seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Carl Crawford scored on a Wakefield wild pitch in the first, putting Tampa up 1-0.

Boston tied it with some aggressive play of their own. Ellsbury had reached on an error, stole second (his 35th steal of the season) and eventually scored on J.D. Drew's sacrifice fly.

Underrated Rays catcher Dioner Navarro pushed his team back ahead, 2-1, with an RBI single which plated Evan Langoria in the fourth.

Navarro struck again in the eighth when he knocked in Carlos Pena with another RBI single, this time off Sox reliever Craig Hanson.

Alex Cora reached base with a two-out double in the ninth off Balfour (three strikeouts) but struck out Varitek on a high fastball (which is still Tek's big hole in the strike zone).

Dice-K matches up with Kazmir tonight as the Rays look to sweep the Sox. So far in the 11 games between the teams this season, the home team is unbeaten. Boston is 6-0 against Tampa Bay at Fenway and Tampa is 5-0 at the Trop.

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