Boston Massacre Part III


Tampa Bay bats blast out on a Indian Summer Night in Boston against the Defending Champs Just need Daisuke Being Beckett in Game Five on Thursday

(October 14, 2008) – Word of the Day for Game Four of the 2008 ALCS U-G-L-Y.

Game Four of the ALCS was Major League Baseball’s equivalent to Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals. Just as Paul Pierce was pouring the Gatorade over Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Lakers were sitting on the other bench with their jaws on the floor, looking stunned. Well that is exactly what the Sox looked like as the Rays kept piling on to, at one point, an 11-run advantage for a 3-1 series lead.

Yes the Sox have come back from the 3-1 hole twice before so you can not count the home-town team out. But these are not the Yankees in 2004. They are not the Indians from last year. Those teams were older and made up of veteran players. These Rays are young and naïve, having a striking resemblence to the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics,

The Red Sox offense looks dead. Nothing seems to get them going not even a homerun from the most unexpected player on the team, Kevin Cash.

When Cash took an Andy Sonnanstine 2-1 pitch and gave fans in the first row of the Monster seats a souvenir, one would think it would get the Sox offense going. But it did not. David Ortiz is still in a horrific 0-for-10 slump. Jacoby Ellsbury has the big goose egg in the hit column and starting to resemble Donnie Sadler more than Nomar Garciaparra. And Jed Lowrie looks like the rookie he is in the ALCS.

This is Lowrie’s first year in the big leagues and every situation he encounters is new so it is not really fair to jump all over him but the others are fair game. Athough he is still considered a rookie by Major League Baseball, Ellsbury is no longer the inexperienced kid he was last year and needs to be held accountable for his lack of production at the plate. B.J . Upton looks more like a seasoned post-season veteran than Ellsbury does.

When hitters are going up against the knuckleballer most hitting coaches will tell hitters “if it’s high let it fly, if it’s low let it go.” The Tampa Bay Rays game plan for Tim Wakefield was they were not going to be passive against the knuckleball. In the first inning, the knuckleball was not quite working for him and the Rays jumped on.

Nothing was working for Wakefield as he walked Upton on four straight pitches right after striking out Akinori Iwamura on four pitches. Between Upton and Carl Crawford, the Rays were aggressive on the basepaths with two uncontested steals and a steal of third in Wakefield’s two and two thirds innings of work. Once Upton got on base there was no doubt about it, he was going to steal and was not waiting around, taking second on the first pitch to Carlos Pena without a throw from Cash.

Upton was not at second base for too long as Pena took an outside, 1-1 knuckleballer to the opposite field and landed in the second row of the Monster seats, giving the Rays the 2-0 advantage. Rookie Evan Longoria was not too impressed by Wakefield’s knuckleball tonight as he went back to back with the Old Time Baseball Game Alumni.

After an easy eight pitch second, things began to go back down hill when his diving effort on Crawford’s swinging bunt went for naught as the speedy left fielder was safe at first, prolonging the inning. Crawford stole his second base of the night before Willy Aybar hit his second homerun off Wakefield in 2008, to put the Rays up by five and it spelled the end for Wakefield. He went into the clubhouse with whip-lash after just 2.2 innings allowing five runs of six hits while walking and striking out two.

Justin Masterson came on in relief of Wakefield and caught Fernando Perez looking at strike three to end the terrifying third. The Sox were able to get one run back in their own half and it came from an unexpected hero. Making the start because Wakefield was on mound, Cash cashed in with a 2-1 shot over the the 37-inch high wall to close the gap to four runs and reigniting Red Sox Nation. But Andy Sonnanstine would once again turn Fenway into a funeral parlor by retiring the next 12 Sox batters. Sonnanstine kept the Sox off balance for 7.1 innings allowing four earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two.

The Rays offense would send the Fenway Faithful running to the exits like the ballpark was on fire in the seventh they scored five runs in the sixth against three Red Sox relievers. Manny Delcarmen started the sixth inning explosion by giving up a one out triple into right center by shortstop Jason Bartlett. Following an Iwamura walk, Upton lined a single into centerfield before walking Pena and Longoria to load the bases and end the night for Delcarmen.

Delcarmen turned the ball over to Javier Lopez, who gave up a base hits to Crawford and Aybar, scoring both Pena and Longoria. Dioner Navarro drove in the final run of the inning with a ground out to Kevin Youkilis at third before Perez ended the inning with a ground out to Dustin Pedroia at second to end the sixth inning monstrosity.

But even down 10 runs, the Red Sox were not going to give up even if maybe half their fans left the game in the sixth. Ortiz finally broke out of his slump with a lead-off rocket line drive down the first baseline. With Fernando Perez misplaying the ball in right field, it allowd Ortiz to slide into third with the triple. The first time the Sox had the lead off hitter on base all game. Youkilis would drive him in with a ground ball to shortstop for the second run of the game. Jason Bay followed Youkilis ground out with single into right field and when Coco Crisp worked a two-out walk, it appeared as if the Sox were putting something together. But Cash struck out stranding Bay and Cash on first and second, respectively. The Sox look like they are starting to come out of their offensive funk and might

Once again there was a little light at the long tunnel’s end as Pedroia and Youkilis appeared to putting some good swings together in the bottom of the eighth inning. Lowrie led to fthe inning with a base hit to center before advancing to second on J.D. Drew’s ground ball back to Sonnanstine. Pedroia drove in the Stanford alum, with a base hit up the middle while Youkilis lined a double off the Green Monster with two outs plating Pedroia from second.

Hopefully the Sox can continue to swing the bats as well as they did in the latter innings of Game Four, when they send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound in a re-match of Game One against James Shields. Matsuzaka has been the only effective pitcher for the Sox in the ALCS and he needs to come on and stop the bleeding in Game Five to prolong the Red Sox season. Matsuzaka is coming of a a Game One start where he pitched six no-hit innings and finished the game scattering four hits in seven strong innings while walking four and striking out nine. Shields pitched equally well in Game One pitching 7.1 innings allowing two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six.


WIN: Andy Sonnanstine

LOSS: Tim Wakefield


The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Carl Crawford, TAMPA BAY ---- 5-5 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs, 3 Runs-scored, 2SB
  1. Willy Aybar, TAMPA BAY ---- 4-5 5 RBIs, Run-Scored
  1. Evan Longoria, TAMPA BAY --- 1-4 HR, 2 RBIs

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