Rays 3.5 Innings From Regaining Homefield Advantage
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THE GOOD: No more Cole Hamels. The Rays are now 3 and a half innings away from sending the series back to the Trop and regaining home field advantage. And with last's night game being suspended, they know Hamels is done for the series. Hamels only threw 75 pitches and despite the run in the 6th inning, he probably would have been good for at least one more inning...No more Scott Kazmir. While the suspended game cost the Phillies at least one inning from their ace, the Rays were already into their bullpen with Grant Balfour pitching the 5th inning...BJ Upton's baserunning. We think it is safe to say that Upton's trip around the bases in the 6th inning is enough to erase the 724 base running gaffes committed during the regular season. After reaching on an infield single, it was imperative that Upton get into scoring position with 2 outs. Despite 4 pickoff attempts, a tricky lefty on the mound and the River Jordan standing between he and second base, Upton got a great jump and stole second base easily. But Upton saved his best baserunning for last. When Carlos Pena drove a single into left-center, Upton first had to traverse the mud between second and third. The toughest part was then rounding third, crossing into the soaked grass while turning at near-full speed. You could see the strain on Upton's face just to stay up-right as he raced home, slid past the catcher and slapped home plate. If the Rays go on to win the World Series, it is not hyperbole to wonder if that will go down as the biggest baserunning play in World Series history, on par with Dave Roberts' stolen base in the '04 ALCS.
THE BAD: Scott Kazmir. 103 pitches in 4 innings. 6 walks. Of course, maybe we should label that "Good" considering Kazmir gave up 4 hits, 6 walks and hit a batter in 4 innings and somehow only allowed 2 runs...Baserunning gaffes. In the first inning, Carl Crawford hit a line drive that Jimmy Rollins dropped. Crawford had stopped running. Otherwise he would have beat the throw to first. In the 5th inning, Rocco Baldelli led off the inning with a pop up that was dropped by Rollins. Baldelli could have easily made it to second base and yet was standing on first when the play ended. That was followed by Jason Bartlett grounding into a double play.
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon stated after the game that Grant Balfour would be his pitcher to start the 6th inning. Balfour only threw 9 pitches last night and would not have been available to pitch tonight had Maddon used somebody else to start the 6th inning. The other option would have been to go with David Price who is a starting pitcher and would be used to the typical pregame routine. Of course, with Cole Hammels due to lead off the bottom of the 6th, it is possible that Maddon is starting with Balfour to force the Phillies to use one of their left-handed pinch-hitters and then will substitute David Price without Balfour throwing a pitch...This wouldn't have happened in The Trop...Joe Maddon moved Carl Crawford up to the 2-spot in the lineup shifting BJ Upton, Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria down a spot. Maddon said he wanted to tweak the lineup but didn't want to do anything too drastic...The Rays had already checked out of their hotel and had to bus 30 miles to Wilmington, Delaware to find a place to stay.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA...
- Bud Selig insists that he informed both teams prior to the game that a World Series game would not be shortened, only suspended no matter what the score. However, players in both clubhouses were unaware of the rule change and Rays players insisted they thought they were in their final at bat in the 6th inning. [Yahoo! Sports]
- Joe Posnanski says baseball should have never let the game start, saying they used "reasons that defied every bit of logic and sports-sense imaginable." [Kansas City Star]
- Rob Neyer wonders why the game wasn't suspended after the 5th inning with the score 2-1 Phillies. Some Phillies fans are a little upset to say the least. [ESPN]
- Jayson Stark says that no matter what happened before and what happens next, this series will always be remembered for the rain. [ESPN]
- Gary Shelton says the Rays are not dead yet and if the Rays go on to win the World Series, they should add some infield mud to the trophy case. [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon said that he does not buy Joe Blanton's explanation that it was just dirt on his cap. [St. Pete Times]
- John Schlegel points out that rain delays and postponements are nothing new in the World Series. [MLB]
- A Top 10 list of reasons last night's game was suspended. [Big League Stew]