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Wednesday, September 10, 2008
a pride win for a young team
Barring any crazy collapses, the Tampa Bay Rays are going to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Your defending World Champion Boston Red Sox should be there as well.
Last night, the Rays (86-57) refused to lose and survived to post one of the biggest wins in Rays history, 5-4 over the Red Sox (85-59) at Fenway.
Jason Bay hit a two-run rope over the Monster in the bottom of the eighth off Dan Wheeler, putting Boston up 4-3 going into the ninth. Jonathan Papelbon had to loosen up quickly but everything seemed to be aligning perfectly for the Red Sox. If they could hold on, they'd regain first place in the AL East for the first time since June 28.
Instead, the Rays rallied to tie it on Dan Johnson's pinch hit homer to right and took the lead on Dioner Navarro's RBI double which knocked in Fernando Perez. Papelbon (5-4), pitching for the third straight day, was ineffective and charged with the blown save, his fifth of the season.
Injury-prone, over-the-hill closer Troy Percival nailed down the final three outs for his 28th save of the season. Mark Kotsay led off the inning with a lenghty at-bat which led to a walk. Jacoby Ellsbury pinch ran. Jason Varitek struck out looking, David Ortiz gave it a ride to right (but this is not the Ortiz of '03-'07) but it fell just short for an out and Coco Crisp popped out to end the game. Ellsbury had stolen second (his 45th steal of the season) and advanced to third on a throwing error on the same play so all Coco had to do was get a hit.
The game was extremely slow, due to the two starting pitchers: Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Kazmir was a little more successful: six innings, two runs on five hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Dice-K went 5 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Boston's bullpen before Papelbon was lights out. Javier Lopez threw a scoreless sixth, Manny Delcarmen got five outs and Hideki Okajima struck out the only batter he faced.
Kevin Youkilis doubled in Dustin Pedroia in the first, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The Rays came back with two in the third. Dice-K hit Cliff Floyd with the bases loaded and Willie Aybar hit a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, Jason Bartlett doubled which scored Gabe Gross. Mike Lowell homered in the bottom of the inning for the Red Sox, setting the stage for Bay's clutch homer.
Josh Beckett faces Andy Sonnanstine tonight in the series finale. After the Rays finally won its first game at Fenway this season, Boston will need a strong outing from its big game ace. Papelbon shouldn't be available so the late innings could be a nightmare for Boston.