RED SOX LOSE ANOTHER TO RAYS 9-1; RAYS LEAD SERIES 2-1
(October 13, 2008) – Growing up a Red Sox fan in
The Red Sox appeared to have been mounting another late inning comeback with a lead-off walk by Jason Varitek in the bottom of the seventh followed by a base hit down the first base line by Alex Cora, sending Varitek to third with no-outs. Jacoby Ellsbury lifted a sacrifice fly to deep right field to score the Sox captain for the first Sox run of the game.
Baldelli was compared at one-time to Joe DiMaggio but after suffering numerous injuries that landed him on the disabled list many times in his four year career, then being diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder, he never thought he would be play baseball again. But here he was, defying all the odds, on the
“It was real special to me,” Baldelli told Craig Sager after the game with the expression of shock still written all over his face. It is something that he will remember for the rest of his career.
With help from the top of the Rays line up, Jon Lester cruised through the first inning without breaking a sweat. A polar opposite of Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was already sweating profusely when he stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the frame. The Sox southpaw only needed four pitches to retire the Rays in the first. Lester got Akinori Iwamura to ground out to second on two pitches before getting Saturday night’s hero, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena to ground out and fly out, respectively, on first pitches.
One thing about Lester is that as the game progresses, he grows stronger so when he retired the first three batters of the game, Lester looked as if he brought his A-game to the table. But the Rays made adjustments against the Sox left hander, starting in the second inning.
Most of Lester’s 2008 post-season dominance came from his ability to not let the lead-off batter of the inning to reach. It is actually the most important thing a pitcher can do in a game. But in Game Three of the ALCS, Lester’s streak of 15 innings without the lead-off batter reaching came to an end in the top of the second inning.
Evan Longoria battled his way back from a 0-2 deficit to work a seven pitch walk against the Sox lefthander. Lester was able to catch Carl Crawford staring at strike three but not before another seven pitch at-bat. Before the game, Joe Maddon replaced Cliff Floyd in the line up with Willy Aybar, who is 2-for-6 against Lester, and the utility infielder made Maddon look like a genius with a base hit up the middle. Longoria and Aybar advanced on to second and third, respectively, on a first pitch fastball to Dioner Navarro that crossed up Varitek and went as passed ball. Navarro hit a slow ground ball to second to drive in Longoria with the first run of the game.
Lester faced more trouble in the third when shortstop Jason Bartlett lined a 0-2 pitch into left field to lead-off inning for the second consecutive inning.
After getting hit around hard in the first three innings, Lester settled down throughout the next 2.2 innings by minimizing the damage and keeping the Rays from crossing the plate. He was also aided by superb defense from Youkilis and some mental mistakes from
But not quite. Matt Garza proved to be too much for the Sox offense. The
"My job was to get their hitters out," Garza told Sager when asked about being matched up against Lester. "My guys were to get to Lester and they got to Lester."
In the top of the fifth,
With Tampa Bay taking the 2-1 series advantage, the Sox will look to perform some more of their October magic fans have been accustomed to seeing in the playoffs, as the Rays Daddy, Tim Wakefield takes the mound tomorrow night, trying to even up the series. In his career against the Rays,
RAYS 9, RED SOX 1
WIN: Matt Garza
LOSS: Jon Lester
The 3 Stars of the Game:
1. B.J. Upton,
2. Rocco Baldelli,
3. Mark Kotsay,