(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Major League Baseball hitters are in trouble for the next 10 years
The Tampa Rays drop the Devil from their names and become the angels of the American league by defeating the defending champion Boston Red Sox, 3-1.
You can’t script a movie better than this. After a historic comeback in Game 5, the Red Sox didn’t come through this time and were missing one Manny Ramirez with game on the line. Big Papi’s wrist isn’t 100 %, but without Manny’s protection, he’s not the same player and neither is this once vaunted lineup. They were 2-28 with two singles after Dustin Pedroia’s early homer. This was their first loss in ten elimination games under Terry Francona.
The Rays hit a record 16 home runs in the series. Willy Aybar and Evan Longoria stuck to the script and hit two out in a deciding Game 7.
This team ain’t scared of nothin’ and it starts with the calming fatherly influence of Manager Joe Maddon.
Matt Garza, the ALCS MVP was big game in the win. In 7 innings pitched, he allowed 2 hits, an earned run (Pedroia’s homer), had 3 BB and fired 9K’s. Then he gave way to the bullpen. Joe Maddon’s decision to go with rookie David Price with two outs in the eighth could have backfired, but in handing Price the ball in such a tempest situation, he might have let the world know just how great a pitcher his young hurler already is.
“I wanted the ball,” Price said. Price, 23, has a fastball in the mid to upper 90’s and has a slider that seems to drop into another dimension. He’s been compared to Doc Gooden and Randy Johnson.
Could you imagine coming in to the game against the defending champions at home in the late innings with it all on the line and pitching to one of the best recent clutch hitters in J.D. Drew (he overwhelmed Drew on 4 pitches) and have confidence you are going to do the damn thing? That speaks volumes and shows how special this kid is.
Pitching him in that situation is like Randy Moss running back a kickoff with no time left on the clock. Trust you will see him next year starting games not closing them.
Yes, pitching with a 2 run lead (after Aybar’s back breaking homer) in the ninth is like running the 100 with the wind at your back against fantasy baseball players, but a rookie in his first save chance ever in his life?.
Price struck out 3 in an inning and a third.
After walking Manny’s replacement, Jason Bay in the ninth, he struck out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek before getting pinch hitter Jed Lowrie to hit a grounder to second to end the game.
Before the playoffs, Price went 12-1 running up the minor league ladder this season. Price was drafted by the Dodgers but chose to attend Vanderbilt on a academic scholarship and pitched three outstanding seasons.
He was the winner in Game 2 but had to be chomping at the bit waiting out his chance. What a chance it was and the kid looked like a 10 year vet in the process. Now the Rays go up against a dangerous and very powerful Philadelphia lineup.
They have nothing to lose.
Before this season, the Rays has the third worst record ever before advancing to a World Series. Every single one of their ten seasons ended up with more losses than wins.
To do what they did this season in the best division in baseball is nothing short of remarkable. Not taking anything away from the Rays, but would they be in this position if the Yankees signed Barry Bonds?
With the Red Sox and Yankees getting older, it appears the league trophy is being passed to the baby brothers of the division.
Tampa Bay’s young and tenacious roster is in an great position to take over baseball and doing this the way they did it might propel this team to considerable and consistent greatness over the next couple of seasons.
With Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton (a Eric Davis clone), Garza, Carl Crawford (missed most of the season with an injury), Carlos Pena (Ryan Howard lite even though his production dropped off from 46 to 31 homers) and Price, baseball better watch out. Barring injury, look for Price and Garza to become one of the best one two punches in baseball next season. When you have a young pitcher in Price saying he wants to be the best ever publicly, the world better take notice or be punched out looking.
Everyone is saying the Rays bullpen can’t get it done, but adding Price to the mix will be the difference against the Phillies.
Tampa Bay defeats the Philadelphia Phillies in 7 on the basis that I like left handed Price against an Utley/Howard matchup late.