- My point about the Yankees defense needing serious improvements is emphasized because of these Fielding Bible awards, if one thinks anything of them. There is a category called “Trailers” and the Yankees have four starting players within this category: Jason Giambi, who will most likely be dismissed. Robinson Cano, who had a miserable season, because as good as he finished, those first few months actually DO count. Derek Jeter, who should rebound next season, but his D will most likely not be any better. Bobby Abreu, who may or may not return. 1B will improve almost by default, just about anyone that takes over should be better defensively, and if it is Tex then it will be a HUGE upgrade. Cano should at least be better, right? And Abreu still hits well, and has less ground to cover than some right fielders, and resigning him to a two year deal if possible is a good idea. Point being? To rip on an arch rival, of course. Not really, the point is that the Yankees won 89 games this season, which is pretty good. Improving upon the defense will improve the team, especially if they go after another pitcher that keeps the ball on the ground. When three of four of a teams infielders are “trailing,” then that is not a good sign at all.
Right here, here, and even right here, one can find why Mike Jacobs isn’t necessarily the best idea for a rebuilding Royals franchise. Jacobs hits for power, but as they all point out, he is non-existent against lefties. But the main flaw with Jacobs, other than an inability to field, is that he just does not get on base. The first link consists of a good article about Dayton Moore. And one of Moore’s quotes was that the organization needs to stress the “importance of OBP.” Well, Jose Guillen was a mistake, and I am assuming that these quotes were taken after that terrible signing. But now, the Royals have two guys, that hit for some power, and make outs at a rather alarming rate. Jacobs’ road OPS is superior on the road, naturally, because he has played in a pitchers park. A .337 road On base is ok, but the last two seasons it has been slightly below that. And there is better overall talent in the AL, I think, so the competition that Jacobs faces will be more difficult to succeed against. The other main concern with this trade is that the Royals have guys who can play first and/or DH. I just believe in OBP, and the Royals will hit a few more home runs, there just might not be anyone on base. Also, half dimensional players, who are 28, may not fit into a teams plans when they realistically may not be competitive for a few years, at least. But anyway, Happy belated birthday, Mike Jacobs, as it was yesterday!
And finally, if you are not reading this guy’s blog then you are behind in the times…
Finally, with the help of a fellow reader of Keith Law’s The Dish website, independent of ESPN, I found what I was looking for. The probablity that a run will score in two different situations. The first situation: Runner on third with no one out. The second situation: Bases loaded with no one out. THESE odds refer to a run being scored, as it says, and not the average amount of runs being scored in these particular situations. Because with a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, the one that Joe Maddon was facing in Game 3, only the first run that crosses the plate, matters.
The odds of scoring when the bases are loaded, and nobody out, is 85.6%. The odds of scoring with a runner on third, and nobody out, is 82.7%. So in walking the bases loaded, the odds increased that Maddon would lose the game if one took out the variables (pitcher, hitter, etc), but the margin is very slim and probably did not matter all that much. But again, it was still a 4% increase in the chance of a loss when the bases on balls were issued. Now, my argument was that a guy like Balfour was less likely to handle this situation because his mentality is somewhat Farnsworth-esque. Of course, that cannot be measured, like the probablity of scoring runs in these situations can. I would probably have played the odds and left the man at third as the only intentional baserunner at that point. But it is very close, so it probably didn’t matter too much either way. But I thank this commentor, because I had been looking for this information before I posted my first blog on the scenario. Little did I know, I had the book anyway!
Two managerial decisions that puzzled me while watching Game 3 of the World Series last night. Both touched up on by ThePrinceofNewYork, in his daily blog.
Why not pinch hit for Gabe Gross in the ninth inning against JC Romero? Gabe Gross is a lefty, JC Romero is a lefty. At the time of this, I thought to myself that Baldelli should be pinch hitting. But I didn’t have any numbers handy, even though I assumed that Baldelli against a lefty would make a lot more sense than Gross against a lefty. Excuse me for not knowing Gabe Gross’ splits off the top of my head while away from my computer. But I would have known this, and known it by heart, had I been managing the Rays last night. This was a bad managerial miscue in my opinion.
Why walk two batters to load the bases? I understand what they were trying to accomplish by walking the bases loaded. But the downside to doing that is having nowhere for the hitter to go. And “The Prince of New York” makes some good points as to why this may have been a poor idea. My opinion? Grant Balfour walked 24 hitters in 58 innings this season, which happens to be the only season worth mentioning. His career numbers indicate that he has had more trouble allowing free passes than one would like. But in the postseason, Balfour has eight walks in ten innings, and has displayed at times an inability to control where the ball is going. Now, I don’t know that I agree with walking the bases loaded with anyone on the mound, especially someone who knows how to stike batters out. But to make the decision to walk the bases loaded with a guy on the mound who may very well walk a batter on his own, may not have been the best decision. But Balfour gave up a weak grounder that ended the game anyway. However! That weak grounder may not not have scored that run, because the runner on third was forced home, and would not have been forced home with no one occupying the other two bases.
Bucs 20 Cowboys 16: No Tony Romo, no problem…for the Bucs. I think that the Cowboys are better if Romo is in there, as do many others, but the Bucs are no slouch either.
Redskins 31 Lions 20: The Lions are a terrible, terrible organization. But the Redskins have not played well the past two weeks. Either that or they ran into consecutive teams that were a little better than we thought (Rams, Browns). The Redskins I saw dominated the Eagles in every aspect of the game after falling down 14-0 early. I still think the Redskins are good, teams may be figuring out Jim Zorn’s strategy a little maybe.
Bills 23 Dolphins 20: The Bills are pretty good, I still am not sure how good though. A good win last week, but the Chargers are underachieving so far. I do however know that they are better than the Dolphins. It should be somewhat competitive, but the Dolphins seem like a team that will lose close games this year because they just aren’t good enough. At least, unlike last year, they have a QB that is worthy of playing time, even though he lacks arm strength. But we all know at this point that arm strength is not as important as smarts.
Patriots 27 Rams 17: I am definitely not sold on the Rams being good. Maybe Haslett has given the team some life, I don’t know. And I am still unsure about the Patriots too, but the game in is New England and I do think they are better. Matt Cassell also showed that maybe he isn’t a horrendous starting QB. The jury is out a few more weeks.
Chargers 30 Saints 24: Have in London, boys. Saints don’t have Reggie Bush which means the running backs should stay between the tackles a little more. The Chargers are better, and both teams need this game.
Jets 24 Chiefs 13: The Jets are not that great, but the Chiefs are bad, and Larry Johnson-less. The Chiefs just need to continue to rebuild, and if that means trading Larry Johnson in the offseason, then do it. Johnson has become a distraction on a bad team, and has taken a pounding from the running back position. I would trade him while he still has value.
Eagles 28 Falcons 20: Obviously, the Falcons are better than everyone thought. But the Eagles are getting healthy, and they are at home. I agree with what the analysts are saying, Matt Ryan may be in for a long day with all the blitzing that Jim Johnson does. But the Falcons should still keep the game within reach, partially because the Eagles don’t know how to put opponents away.
Raiders 19 Ravens 16: The Ravens may end up blowing out the Raiders. But the Ravens are not that good. The Ravens come off to me as an 8-9 team (3-3 currently). They can stay tight with some good teams, but will probably lose those games. And they can beat some bad teams. I just feel an upset this week.
Panthers 31 Cardinals 21: Cardinals throw the ball well. The Panthers are the more complete team. That being said, Arizona is far from a pushover, and the best team in the worst divsion that we have seen in a while.
Jaguars 27 Browns 19: The Browns are finally playing better but the division is finished. The Jaguars feel more like a 10-win team, but still better than the Browns are.
Texans 33 Bengals 24; Texans are better than the Bengals. And I really hope, for the sake of the organization, that the Bengals get rid of Chad Johnson after the season.
Giants 26 Steelers 23: The best game of the week. The Giants are good, but this is their most difficult task thus far. They will blitz, they will pound the ball, they can throw the ball. Pretty solid team, but after all they did win the Super Bowl last season. The Steelers are good too, but how doo are they? I don’t know that they are better than the Giants. The game is in Pitt, so that will help the Steelers, but I think the Giants win a squeaker. But being in the same division as the Giants, I am wanting to see the Steelers prove this pick wrong. And I would be lying if I didn’t want to see them throw a few exclamation points on at the end.
49ers 20 Seahawks 17: Two bad teams.
Colts 19 Titans 17: Peyton Manning goes conservative ala the Ravens-Colts 2006 divisional playoff. The Titans are better but I believe this is a close game, and the Colts show everyone that they are still a contender. More a mild contender than in the past, but hey, the Titans have to lose to someone, right?
No, this format of comparing two teams is not some original blow-your-mind type concept, but it will do. Position by position analysis, mild analysis, but it is something.
1B Advantage: Toss-Up
Ryan Howard is a big time bat, but Pena had the better year each of the last two seasons. Howard may be the most overrated player in baseball at this point. Good, but overrated. Pena’s defense is superior, and as a hitter, in what is most likely the best division in baseball….in a very long time, Pena actually performed better, overall. One reason that Howard hits so many homers is because A) He is good B) He is playing in a park that benefits his power numbers. Granted, this matchup is very close, and either one could come through, but just bring in the lefties and both should be under control in the late innings.
2B Advantage: Phillies by a large margin
Chase Utley is the best second baseman in the game of baseball. Utley may end up going down as one of the better ones to ever play if he keeps this up. A very good defender, and a great hitting second baseman. Iwamura is decent. An ok hitter, with a solid glove, they say. But this matchup is very favorable to the Phillies.
3B Advantage: Rays by a large margin
Evan Longoria is already showing the league why the Rays gave him that extension early in the season. Talent galore. Solid defender, and already a very good hitter. Superstar shall come easy if he wants it to. If Feliz plays all the time, then there is a true void in this lineup. I don’t know, maybe he has some great Series, but as great as his glove is, he is that bad with the bat at this point.
SS Advantage: Phillies
Jimmy Rollins is a good, all around SS. Jason Bartlett is good defensively, but can’t hit much. I prefer that guy that can do well on both sides of the ball, even though Rollins wasn’t exactly dominant at the plate this season.
C Advantage: Rays
No, I cannot quantify what either does behind the plate. But Carlos Ruiz is a liability when standing at the plate, while Dioner Navarro is not. Navarro wasn’t as good as he was early in the year, but he is a better hitter than Ruiz, by far. Another black hole in the Phillies lineup.
LF Advantage: Phillies
Pat Burrell works the count, draws walks, and hits for power. Carl Crawford hits for average, plays defense and steals bases. I will take the patient hitter who can do real damage. Crawford is a nice player at this point, but Burrell is a bat that belongs in the middle of a good lineup.
CF Advantage: Rays
Shane Victorino is a nice complementary player. I suggested he be moved down in the lineup earlier in the year, and I think I might stand behind that even though he turned it on after he read my blog. But he is definitely worthy of a starting job, and is an entertaining player to watch. But BJ Upton has the real talent of the two. Upton turned it on in the postseason, and even though I think I dislike the way he plays the game, we cannot deny the talent that he has. If one of these guys is going to go off, I think I like Upton’s chances a little more.
RF Advantage: Phillies
If Rocco Baldelli were actually Joe Dimaggio, then the Rays would have won 106 games or so. But Baldelli has been sidelined his entire career it seems. If it’s Gross or whoever else out there it really doesn’t change it. I think Baldelli is the most talented option, definitely, but I will take Werth because he is more of a known quantity at this point.
SP Advantage: Rays
James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson. All 26 or younger, and all about average, and three are well better than that. Jackson is only a bullpen option at this point, but the other four that are going to pitch are all solid. The Phillies really only have one pitcher I would be very confident in, and that of course would be Cole Hamels. Hamels may be slightly better than any one starter on the Rays, slightly. But the Rays have three guys that are significantly better than any of the Phillies other starters. Jamie Moyer overachieved and seems to have run out of gas. Brett Myers is ok. Joe Blanton is ok. And the Rays lineup has the ability to work the count and get some of these guys out of there. And that same lineup has the ability to knock the 2-3-4 starters out simply because they should be able to hit them. But it is a short series, so who knows?
Bullpen Advantage: Phillies
If Joe Maddon uses David Price as much as he can, then I think this is closer. Price could be used like Papelbon was in 05.’ And I understand a manager’s hesitance in using a 23 year old pitcher who has been in the majors for a very short amount of time, in crucial situations. But Price is nearly unhittable right now, and if used properly, he could pitch multiple innings against a lineup that has two good left-handed hitters. But overall, the depth of the Phillies pen is greater, and they have a set up man and closer who have been pitching very well all year.
I think the Rays are a far stronger team, but then again I thought the 06′ Tigers would roll over their competition too. The Phillies lineup is top heavy, while the Rays have guys up and down the lineup who are at least capable of swinging the bat, outside of Bartlett who isn’t exactly a difficult batter to retire. Cole Hamels will probably have to win both his starts if the Phillies even want to take this seven games. But the problem with that is, as good as Hamels is, he will be opposed by a good starter on the other side. Defensively, the Rays are better. Offensively, the Rays are a little better. The starting pitching of the Rays is better. The Phillies DO have the better bullpen, but I like the Rays if they have the advantage in those other areas. But after all, this is just a prediction, and doesn’t hold much water.
RAYS IN 6
It’s quite funny over at SoxandPinstripes, where the two dueling writers, Jeff and Vince, always grapple with one another as to who is or who is not an “Ace.” Ace as we all know, is very subjective. An undisclosed writer whose blog I frequent, , came to a conclusion that pitchers with an “Adjusted ERA” of 115 or above should be deemed as “Aces” for the 2008 season. But even though they may be Aces for a year, that doesn’t mean they should have obtained the “Ace” label for good. One year does not deserve a permanent status as being the best at your position, or one of anyway. Josh Beckett is a great example, because he has only had one great year, but he has mixed on multiple above average seasons, and two incredible postseasons in which he was the most valuable player on the team. Jon Lester has merely one great season, and that is the only season that he has completed. So I don’t feel that he is quite there, although he was easily an “Ace” during this season.
An “Ace” of course is defined as “High quality.” So in this case, the highest tier of pitchers would be worthy, but there must be a line somewhere to indicate where pitchers fall, whether above or below. And few should be above. The Red Sox appeared on the surface to have 3 aces on their 2008 roster once the season finished. But Dice-K is really a number 2. Matsuzaka has pitched only one great playoff game (out of 6 total I think), walked far too many batters this season, and did not throw all that many innings compared to other number one starters. Matsuzaka is good, and had a really good year, but he is not great, and is a number 2 in my opinion. Jon Lester is going to be really good I think, but give the league some time to adjust to him. Lester’s chances to become an Ace look very promising, but he has one season, One! Beckett I do believe is there. Truly great last season, right in his prime, and I like to think that he wasn’t fully healthy this postseason. The reason for not thinking he was healthy? Because they told us that he wasn’t.
On to the Aces…
- Roy Halladay: Arguably as good as anyone. Maybe not worthy to have won a Cy Young this season, but that is only because Cliff Lee was incredible. It is true that Halladay has a good defense backing him up, and he is a sinkerball pitcher. But his K numbers are legit, and the Hall of Fame isn’t out of the question.
- Chein-Ming Wang: Wang started off great this season, but eventually cooled off, and eventually was lost for the year. But Wang may actually be slighty underrated because he has “failed” in the postseason. I think that Wang is on the lower end of “Ace” status, but I have seen him dominate, and he has posted multiple seasons of quality. Yankee stadium isn’t exactly friendly to righties either. Wang joins Posada as the only underrated Yankees to ever play.
- James Shields: Low end again, but good. Back to back good seasons for Shields. If the undisclosed writer’s method is applied here, then Shields has had back-to-back years of ERA +’s over 115. But neither has been spectacular, and that is why he qualifies on the lower end.
- Scott Kazmir: I am slightly torn on this because Kazmir has four good seasons in a row, but only two in which he was healthy all the way through. Kazmir’s stuff is lethal, but if he is not beaten, he can at least be dispatched earlier than other aces could. Kazmir suffers from “Matsuzaka syndrome,” where he throws far too many pitches in too few innings.
- Josh Beckett: After what he did last year, and the fact that he strikes out many batters, and walks only a few, he is one. I expect him to come out firing next season to erase my doubts…
- Cliff Lee: Lee has had two above average seasons pre-2008, and one of them was pretty good. I know that he has had only one great year, and I fully expect him to digress next season. But this year was exceptional, truly exceptional. ERA+ of 175.
- Justin Verlander: Verlander had a crap year this year. But Verlander posted great years in succession before this season. I don’t know what was wrong with him, injury, etc. But if he doesn’t pitch well next season, then I will be very, very surprised.
- John Lackey: May have made some comments that I didn’t like, but it is his opinion. Lackey has pitched well for a long time now. Cy Young caliber last season, and this season too. 2008 of course consisted of some injuries to start the season, but he was great when he pitched. And unlike last season, Lackey was good in the postseason (I don’t hold anything against pitchers who don’t get to the postseason, because most of the time it isn’t their fault. But I will give bonus points for pitching well if they do grab a berth in extended play).
- All of the Rangers pitchers combined are about as valuable as an ace…
- Felix Hernandez: …Hernandez has a lot to prove, but has posted two consecutive better than average years, and he has extraordinary talent. And let’s face it, that Seattle defense doesn’t exactly help the “King’s” ERA. But the walk totals need to come down a little.
- Erik Bedard: Another “iffy” candidate, but as bad and disappointing as Bedard was, and as injury plagued as his season ended up being, he was still 14% above average according to ERA+. Bedard has sustained injuries, but he has great stuff, and has had two seasons of stellar performance.
- Johan Santana: An ace among aces. Maybe not clearly the best pitcher in baseball as he was for a period of time, but still right there with the best. As a matter of absolute fact, Santana was one of the three best pitchers in the NL this year, even though the scouts told us he may be on the decline. Santana is great, period.
- Cole Hamels: Incredible change-up, one that rivals his division counterpart Santana. Hamels has produced two really good years in a row, and the playoffs have only added to a player that may become a legacy in the city of Philly.
- Tim Hudson: Not many people seem to talk about Huddy anymore, even though everyone knows he is good. But Hudson has put up ERA+’s of 120 or greater in seven of the past eight seasons. 2006 was a below average season for Hudson, but that is it. Hudson is kind of an under the radar Ace. We all know he is good, but no one ever discusses him with the best in baseball anymore.
- Carlos Zambrano: Fiery ole Zambrano. Everyone knows he is good, but he has been a workhorse for several years now. Before 2008, Zambrano threw over 200 innings in five consecutive seasons. And this season in “only” 188 innings, Zambrano was still 15% better than the average.
- CC Sabathia: Among the best of all the Aces. Sabathia eats a bunch of innings, and applies some of the best results to those innings. CC will make a lot of money this season, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want him on my team.
- Roy Oswalt: Another semi under the radar Ace. Anyone who knows baseball knows that he is great, but the casual fan may not know how good he is. As bad as Oswalt’s season began this year, it ended pretty nicely. Eight years in the big leagues and nothing short of a 120 ERA+.
- Tim Lincecum: The Exception. That is what I will call him. A Felix Hernandez type where they need to prove us a little more, but the “Feel” is there. And I cannot deny that I feel that feeling. Why not Lester, but Lincecum and Felix you ask? As much as I like Lester, and I really do like him, I don’t think he will be quite what these two will be.
- Jake Peavy: There is a reason teams want to give up multiple quality prospects for him.
- Brandon Webb: Sinkerballer in a hitters park. The guy is good.
- Dan Haren: After I realized what Oakland does to pitchers, I felt that Haren may end up being a number two starter. So far, I am wrong. Haren has four consecutive solid seasons in a row, and the last two have been great. Maybe the DBacks will add a bat since they sacrificed the farm anyway.
Aces? Maybe, but not enough for me to label them that.
- Brad Penny: Not quite enough.
- Kelvim Escobar: My most difficult omission of this group, but being hurt every three years doesn’t help.
- Chris Carpenter: Pitch, then we’ll talk.
- John Smoltz: He may be done, so even though he has been an Ace for many years now, he may be finished
- Daisuke Matsuzaka: Show me that your BABIP is no fluke.
- Fausto Carmona: Stay healthy in 2009. The stuff is great.
- Ben Sheets: Stay healthy, period.
- AJ Burnett: I have given up on you staying healthy.
- Aaron Harang: Close, but I need a little more. Although two good years, one that consisted of 234 innings, makes it tough to leave you off.
- Zack Greinke: Almost there…, probably are, just a little more though
Already there? Maybe, just give me a little more…
- Jon Lester
- John Danks
- Francisco Liriano (health)
- Dustin Macgowan: Must wait until at least 2010 now.
- Chad Billingsley: More innings
- Joba Chamberlain: See above
- Edinson Volquez: Hanging out with Lester and Danks for a few more months.
And of course there are many other promising young arms out there. But “Ace” is subjective, at least the way I attacked it. There is a way to do it by the numbers as well, but this was a little more fun.
The Rays deserve to win and were the best team in the American League this season, and most likely the best in all of baseball. I don’t agree with Sean Casey staying on the bench in the seventh inning, as he could have batted for either Varitek or Cora. I also would have pinch run Ellsbury for Ortiz in the 8th. Buck Martinez stated that the reason they didn’t was because of the chance that the game might go into extras. “Extras” do not come without a tie game in regulation. The seventh inning move may or may not have mattered, the 8th inning did not, ultimately. But the Rays were the best team. They had a good run differential, won 97 games, and won the American League with a tightly contested, seven game series. By the way, there is no one that scared me more out of the pen than David Price, and that was before he retired four of five batters with truly electric stuff. Number one starter is his if he chooses to grab it in the next few seasons. Congratulations, Rays.
Sean Casey should have pinch hit for Jason Varitek.
For an organization that is, shall we say, frugal? And of course does not make that much money to begin with. This must be a move that is based on Billy Beane expecting to win either this upcoming season or the next. Billy Beane has locked up the underrated, but injury prone Mark Ellis. Not “Nick Johnson like,” in that Ellis cannot stay on the field at all, but more like the “JD Drew type” where he plays well more than half the games, but has only a few full seasons under his belt.
Mark Ellis has been an above average defender at second for some time now. And his bat is plenty capable enough for that position too. But Ellis is far from a star, and that is understood when he only accepted a two-year deal, that is worth $10 million, with an option for a third. An Oakland based writer after the 2007 season, nitpicked his way into a “Mark Ellis was as valuable as Derek Jeter” debate. It was a good effort, and Ellis and Jeter weren’t too far apart to call him crazy that season. But Ellis is no Jeter.
Ellis however, can still help a team win, and if Billy Beane believes so, then so do I. Unless of course Billy has something else up his sleeve… So Beane must be confident that either this season or next, the A’s could win 90 games. He must be thinking that maybe the Angels are primed to be pounced with all of the decisions that they have to make this offseason. And if not, it is very unlikely the Angels repeat and win 100 games, especially if there is a team that can actually challenge them within the division. Because Billy Beane does not just give millions of dollars to 32 year old players. Beane is a bargain hunter. Paying money to a 37 or 38 year old player isn’t out of the question for him, but it will only be for one year, and will be for far less money than this. If Beane thought the team had little chance to win that 90 game mark that he eyes, then I have trouble believing that he extends Ellis’ stay in the bay.
With the season on the line, and all hopes dashed, seemingly, the Boston Red Sox made the greatest comeback I have ever witnessed in a postseason game.
I was glued to my tv the night the Cleveland Indians made THE most incredible comeback I have ever seen in this sport. Down 14-3, I think, to the Seattle Mariners, they somehow came back to win that game. That was a truly unbelievable event in the world of sports. That same night, over on ESPN 2, Sammy Sosa tied the game up against the Dodgers or someone, with a two run home run in the ninth, two outs too I think. This may have been the greatest night of baseball I have ever seen.
But that night I had no personal stake in either game. A great night of baseball nonetheless. But I am not a fan of any of the four teams that competed. I am a fan, however, of the Boston Red Sox. I am not going to lie, I was keeping my eye on the game, but I was flicking between other tv shows as well. South Park being one of them. But I never truly gave up… altough things looked about as dim as they could get. It was basically finished, and basically finished in my mind, but giving up completely was not something that was done. And then I flicked back, missing a half inning, what was a very important half inning. One in which David Ortiz actually had a good swing, and one in which three other players had to come through, all with two outs.
So I was ”suckered” back in. I had hope once again. Thinking to myself, I was, why did they do this to me? I still knew it would be very difficult to overcome a three run lead in merely two innings of play, but it was something. And without this something, there would have been nothing else to the season. Papelbon retired the Rays in the top of the eighth, and the 5-6-7 hitters were coming up for the Red Sox. Still, a victory was a longshot. Bay walked on four pitches, something that is simply inexcusable, from a pitchers standpoint. Then Drew rocketed a ball into the right field stands, something he does well when he is seeing the ball well. Jed Lowrie and Sean Casey were disposed of. Then Mark Kotsay laced a ball just out of the reach of Upton’s glove, actually hitting his glove, but falling in for a double. Coco stepped to the plate. Coco is a player, that when at the plate, I don’t have much faith in. There are plenty of ways to get him out, and there is a reason he isn’t a full time outfielder for this team. But as Francona stated, Coco had a truly great at bat, and smoked a single that allowed the game tying run to score from second in the form of Kotsay. Coco was thrown out at second, which as my Dad said, wasn’t a bad play. It was an errant throw that happened to be right to Carlos Pena, and with two outs, trying to get in scoring position is a good idea. Outs are bad, but this was a “less bad” out.
The Rays threatened in the top of the ninth, only to see Pena get duped into that inviting two seam fastball that Masterson uses to induce ground balls. Inning over.
And then, then came the ninth, which started rather meekly. Two quick outs. Then Youkilis had a very good AB, something he does quite frequently. But the end result was a routine ground ball to Longoria. And this play symbolizes the game in my opinion. Whether or not blowing a bubble matters or not, I don’t know. It probably makes little difference, but while Longoria makes a nice play, he blows a bubble, then makes a low throw that Pena cannot scoop. Man in scoring position, two outs. Evan Longoria is a very good player, already. And I am not necessarily getting on his case for blowing a bubble in the middle of a crucial situation, although it really doesn’t look good. If I am going to get on someone’s case for taking it easy, it will be BJ Upton. Those nonchalant prances in center, as talented as he is, come off as very arrogant to me. He has actually misplayed a few of them in my opinion because he approaches the ball like he already has it caught. But back to the play, it kind of showed me that the Rays maybe weren’t all there at the end of this game. That they thought they had sealed the deal, and were off to the World Series.
…Up to the plate steps trade deadline acquistion Jason Bay. Four tough pitches to take…and Bay is intentionally walked. Buster Olney is right, when Drew is “locked in” he is among the best in the game. But knowing he was locked in simply because he belted a home run two innings earlier, is not completely realistic for an opposing manager. And 4-7 is a small sample size, but one could look at it either way. Drew doesn’t exactly kill lefties, Bay however, does. Bay has been good against both lefties and righties over the course of his career though. Drew then smoked another ball that had enough juice to end up over the head of the right fielder. Whether he was playing in too much or not, hitting the ball hard, more often than not, results in good things. And this time it was a very good thing. The game was won, and all was good in the City of Beantown for a few more days.
With all that emotion felt, the Rays are a very good team. And they are still only one victory away from a trip to the Series. The realist in me knows that it will be extremely hard to win the next two games. But anything can happen, and if the Rays win, then congratulations! They were the best team in the American League. But the Red Sox are still alive, and still have a chance. And win or lose, it will not change what happened in game 5 to all of the people that care about this Red Sox team.