Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What a year

It’s over.

This magical summer ended on a cold Wednesday night in South Philly when the Phillies beat the Rays 4-3 in Game 5 of the World Series.

Forget the ending, it was a wonderful ride.

From the Opening Day win at Baltimore to the Game 2 victory against the Phillies at the Trop, the Rays provided us with memories we won’t soon forget.

Walk-off wins.

The victories at Fenway Park.

Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston.

This team won the American League East title and the American League pennant, incredible achievements for a team with the worst record in baseball the previous two seasons and nine last place-finishes in their first 10 years.

They won 105 games this season, more than the Phillies, more than any team in baseball.

They just came up short in the World Series.

No shame there.

None at all.

Look! Sun!

See the sun on the field? No rain in Philly today.

There are gray clouds over the city, but mostly blue skies over Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies get ready for batting practice.

Both teams are preparing as if this is a regular game with full batting practice for each squads.

The only difference is the first 5 ½ innings are in the books and the score is tied 2-2. With just 3 ½ innings left, there is a strong possibility the team that scores first wins.

It will be like a restart with five laps to go in the Daytona 500.

This should be interesting.

Rain yes, Game probably

The morning rain and snow did not happen here in Philly.

They are now calling for afternoon rain.

Scattered showers are in the forecast from about 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. After that it is suppose to be just windy and cold.

Not the best night for a baseball game, but it doesn’t seem likely commissioner Bud Selig wants to wait another day to finish Game 5 of the World Series.

The suspended game is scheduled to resume at 8:37 p.m. today with the score tied 2-2 and the Phillies batting in the bottom of the sixth inning.

According to, it will be in the high 30s and very windy with a wind chill in the low 30s.

But no rain.

The forecast for Thursday calls for sun all day with temperatures in the 40s. The evening forecast is much the same as tonight’s, only the wind chill will be in the high-30s.

Take away the afternoon rain and it doesn’t appear as if Thursday night will be much different than Wednesday night.

So, unless this afternoon rain is more than scattered showers or if it hangs around longer than predicted, or Selig decides to not mess with a potentially messy situation, the Rays and Phillies should retake the field at Citizens Bank Park tonight.

Stay tuned …

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The forecast calls for brrrrrrr

Turns out Tuesday was a nice night in Philly. Nice night if you like cold, windy nights.

But no rain.

Or snow.

Those are expected for this morning and should be finished by the afternoon, which means Game 5 might actually come to its long-awaited, much-anticipated conclusion, and, perhaps with it, the World Series.

The Phillies lead the Rays 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, which is scheduled to resume tonight (weather permitting) in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5 with the score tied 2-2.

Why wasn’t it finished Tuesday?

The answer depends on whom you talk to.

The early forecast called for a rainy, miserable night. That never happened. So, maybe Major League Baseball’s only error was on the side of caution.

Some think the game was never going to be played, because the Citizens Bank Field needed a day to recover from the beating it took during Monday’s rain, which rendered the field unplayable and forced the suspension of the game.

Others lean toward the conspiracy theory that FOX, which is broadcasting the series, did not want a baseball game interfering with its popular show, “House.”

Tuesday was an off day regardless of whether there was a Game 6 or not, and the network wanted it to remain an off day.

Believe what you want.

But believe this: It would have been one cold night at the ball yard had they played Tuesday.

And believe this, too: it’s going to be one cold night at the ball yard if they finish the game tonight.

Game 5 still in limbo

Major League Baseball has yet to make a decision on the status of Game 5 of the World Series, which is supposed to resume at 8 p.m. today in the bottom of the sixth inning and the score tied 2-2.

The Phillies led the Rays three games to one in the best-of-seven series. One more win and they win their first World Series championship since 1980.

It is cold, rainy and windy in Philadelphia, and while the chance for rain is supposed to diminish tonight, the temperature is expected to dip below 40, making for a cold, miserable night.

It won’t exactly be the ideal conditions to resume a World Series game, especially given the circumstances that led to suspending the game Monday.

There’s a good chance a decision will be made early this afternoon.

We’ll keep you posted.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maddon tweaks lineup

Joe Maddon tweaked his lineup for tonight’s Game 5 of the World Series, moving Carl Crawford up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order and inserting Rocco Baldelli in right field.

By batting Crawford second, he dropped B.J. Upton, Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria down one spot.

“I just wanted to tweak it a click,” Maddon said. “See if Carl can get up there a little bit and just unfreeze Carlos and Longo a bit. They haven’t been hitting, and see if it makes a difference or not. It’s just a minor adjustment.”

Peña and Longoria are a combined 0-for-29 in this series and 1-for-43 since Longoria’s home run in Game 5 of the ALCS.

“I just wanted to do something just to clear their minds,” Maddon said. “It was more to give them a different outlook on the day. That’s all. They’re basically still hitting in their same order, one slot down. Carl has been swinging well. He’s a familiar No. 2 hole hitter. B.J., it looks like he has his RBI swing back.”

Baldelli is in right because Philly is throwing the left-handed Cole Hamels. And because Maddon has another of his hunches.

“Ben (Zobrist has) done a nice job,” Maddon said. “ just wanted to get Rocco out there. I know he’s ready to play. Rocco can do something special, I believe. Not that the other guys can’t, but Rocco’s capable of doing something extraordinary, so I wanted to get him out there.”

It's win or go home for Rays

It’s chilly and windy here at Citizens Bank Park. There is also a chance to rain tonight.

The wind is blowing to right field.

You see a lot of winter jackets and hoods on those walking around the stadium.

It’s not an ideal setting for a baseball game, but the Rays can make the weather irrelevant with a win tonight in Game 5.

If not, well, this amazing season ends in South Philly.

Scott Kazmir is on the hill for the Rays.

He’s had an up and down postseason. The Rays need him to be up tonight.

They need hits from Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria.

Defense from everyone.

These Rays have been resilient all season.

Count them out, and they bounce back.

Cole Hamels is pitching for the Phillies. The lefty is 4-0 in four postseason starts, including Game 1 of the World Series.

The Rays are already counted out.

We’ll see if they can bounce back.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Floyd out; Hinske added to roster

PHILADELPHIA – Eric Hinske was added to the Rays roster Sunday afternoon prior to Game 4 of the World Series.

He replaces Cliff Floyd, who injured his right shoulder in Game 2.

“We tried to get (Floyd) through (Saturday),” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He was available. He isn’t (Sunday).”

Hinske, who was taken off the roster after the American League Division Series, has not appeared in a game during this postseason. He remained sharp by taking his regular spot in batting practice.

“I haven’t had an at-bat in three weeks. If I get in there I’ll swing,” Hinske said.

Floyd told Hinske on Saturday that there was a good chance he might not be able to finish the series. Maddon told Hinske to be sure to take ground balls at first and third base during batting practice, since he could be used there as well as the corner spots in the outfield.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Hinske said. “You don’t want to see a teammate get hurt, but yeah, I’m excited to be active and to help any way I can.”

Hinske’s immediate role would be as a pinch-hitter, Maddon said, adding that he doesn’t see using Hinske as the designated hitter should the series return to Tropicana Field.

Hinske said it was tough to remain sharp during the ALCS and the first three games of the World Series.

“Kind of. You know you have no chance of getting in that game that day, but you got to be professional about the situation. There’s always a chance like right now,” he said.

Great day for a Game 4

It’s a beautiful day here in Philadelphia. And busy, too.

The Eagles are playing the Falcons this afternoon across the street. The Who are in concert tonight.

There’s a lot going on here at the sports complex in South Philly.

And let’s not forget Game 4 of the World Series between the Rays and Phillies, which is scheduled for 8:29 p.m. today, and should start on time.

Question: Which is more surprising: It’s Oct. 26 and the Rays are still playing? Or, it’s 2008 and The Who are still touring?

Tough choice.

Back to baseball …

The Rays need a win to even the series or face the prospect of beating Cole Hamels in Game 5 to avoid elimination.

They lost a tough one early Sunday morning – 1:47 a.m. to be exact – when Eric Bruntlett scored from third on a dribbler by Carlos Ruiz that rolled about 40 feet up the third base line.

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria really had no play. The ball was hit that slow.

The Rays have been good at bouncing back from tough loss all season.

That trend will be put to the test tonight.

Phillies win in ninth

Carlos Ruiz’s dribbler up the third base line with the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Eric Bruntlett and gave the Phillies a 5-4 victory over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series.

The hit came at 1:47 a.m.

Rain delayed the start of the game 91 minutes and pushed back first pitch to 10:06 p.m., making it the latest start time in World Series history.

Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday night.

For a city that waited 15 years for the World Series to return, it was worth the wait.

The Phillies, behind 45-year-old lefty Jamie Moyer, the second-oldest pitcher to start a World Series game, built a 4-1 lead through six innings.

But the Rays chipped away with two in the seventh.

B.J. Upton set-up the ninth inning excitement when he singled to lead off the eighth inning then took it upon himself to circle the bases and score the tying run.

Upton stole second and third on consecutive pitches and scored when the throw to third by Ruiz hit him in the leg and rolled toward the Rays dugout.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Upton steals, scores. It's 4-4

The Rays, who looked well on their way to defeat after back-to-back home runs by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the sixth inning, have battled back and tied Game 3 of the World Series 4-4 in the eighth inning.

Trailing 4-1 after the Utley and Howard went deep off starter Matt Garza, the Rays scored twice in the seventh. Carl Crawford beat out a bunt and Dioner Navarro followed with a double down the left field line.

Crawford scored when Gabe Gross bounced out to first base, and Navarro came home on Jason Bartlett’s grounder to shortstop.

The Rays scored the tying run in the eighth when B.J. Upton leadoff with a single. Upton stole second and third on consecutive pitches and came home when the throw from Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz hit him in the leg and rolled toward the third base dugout.

So it's late, so what

Normally I’d rail about the stupidity of Major League Baseball for allowing a game to be played after a long rain delay, but I won’t now, and here’s why:

It was only a 1 hour, 31 minute rain delay.

First pitch wasn’t until 10:06 p.m., and that sounds awfully late to start a baseball game, but the game was starting late anyway, because heaven forbid they start a World Series game in the afternoon or late-afternoon.

The fans here at Citizens Bank Park didn’t seem to mind the delay. Some sat in the rain, while most stood in the concourses, drinking beer, watching the Penn State-Ohio State game on TV monitors and pretty much enjoying the fact their Phillies were in the World Series.

It’s not raining now.

A little chilly and breezy, but the fans are having a good time, waving their white towels and chanting “Eeeva, Eeeva,” every time Rays third baseman Evan Longoria comes to bat.

The playing field appears excellent.

And it’s Game 3 of the World Series.

So, play ball.

Scheduled to play ... eventually

The forecast calls for rain until the early evening, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said he believed tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series will still be played at Citizens Bank Park, though it will start late.

After meeting with the umpire crew and officials from Major League Baseball at 4:30 p.m., Maddon said the game time could be moved back at least a half hour, from 8:35 p.m. to sometime after 9 p.m.

“They’re thinking the proverbial window will show up post 9, 9:30 (p.m.) possibly,” Maddon said. “Once it does, it’s not going to be a window, it’s going to be wide-open spaces after that. Unless anything changes there’s a good chance it will start a little bit off time, but nevertheless, get the full game in.”

Maddon said a definitive cut-off time to call the game if the rain lingers longer than anticipate was not discussed.

“There’s no definitive (time),” Maddon said. “When you’re talking 10 o’clock you’re getting a little bit crazy, but there wasn’t a definitive, ‘If we get to 10 o’clock and we’re still not playing we’re not playing.’ There was nothing like that.”

Maddon said he had not thought of how a rainout would affect his pitching rotation since the Series would loss the off day Tuesday and the teams would play five straight days should the Series go seven games.

“I think we’re going to play,” he said. “From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, I think we’re going to play, so I’m not there yet. We’re going to play. It’s just going to be late.”

Forecast isn't good for Game 3

It’s raining on and off here at Citizens Bank Park.

The tarp covers the infield.

The forecast doesn’t look good for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series, according to, which is calling for 100 percent chance of rain at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 90 percent at 9 p.m.

That’s not good.

No word from Major League Baseball on the possibility of playing tonight.

Again, none of this would be a factor if there was a roof over this stadium.

Rain coming, no word on Game 3

It is a wet, windy, nasty day here in Philly.

And it’s a bit chilly for those of us from Florida. The temperature is in the mid-50s and expected to not get much warmer.

But that is not the story.

The story is the rain.

It is not raining now (12:30 p.m.), but it is expected to later this afternoon.

Heavy rains are still in the forecast, but they are supposed to be over by early evening.

How that will affect Game 3 is still anyone’s guess since this is being posted more than 8 hours before the scheduled first pitch.

Major League Baseball does not like rainouts, especially during the World Series.

A lot will depend on the field conditions.

We’ll keep you posted.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maddon said there will be baseball

The temperature is dipping through the 50s here at Citizens Bank Park as the Rays finish their workout Friday night.

It will get colder, too.

Game time temps could be in the 40s for these next three games.

Oh, and it could rain Saturday, which could force the postponement of Game 3 to Sunday and push the three games in Philly back a night, meaning the Series would lose Tuesday’s off day and create a situation where the Rays could face Cole Hamels two more times if the series goes seven games.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was told the rain will stop about 8 p.m. Saturday, and he expects to play Game 3 as scheduled.

Maddon has been right a lot this year.

We’ll see if he’s right on this one.

Of rain and age

It’s chilly here in Philly.

And it could rain, too.

Where’s a roof when you need one?

There’s talk Saturday’s game can be postponed because of rain. We’ll see, and we say that because there’s talk Saturday’s rain might not get here until Sunday.

Anyway …

The Phillies are about to start their work out here at Citizens Bank Park, a gem of a ball yard.
Jamie Moyer, 45, who will be the second oldest pitcher to start a World Series game should he make it to the mound for Game 3 on Saturday night, is at the podium in the press conference room.

We’re not saying he’s old, but he was once All-Colony.

Back in Philly

Flew through Philly a week ago on the way back from Boston, and I looked down on Citizens Bank Park as we landed.

My buddy, Whitney Johnson of WDAE fame, was also on the flight, and we wondered while eating breakfast during the layover if that was as close as we would get to the home of the Phillies this October.

The Phillies had won the National League pennant two days earlier.

The Rays almost clinched the American League crown the night before in Game of the ALCS but couldn’t hold a 7-0 lead in the seventh.

Was it a blip in their wonderful postseason run or the start of a historic meltdown?

Ah, but I am back here in Philly, because the Don’t Doubt Us Rays held off the Red Sox in seven games and have played the Phillies even through two games of this World Series.

I landed a few hours ago, but didn’t see the ballpark. We came in on a different runway.

I’ll see the stadium later today, though. The Rays are scheduled for a late afternoon workout.
And I’ll see it for the next three nights, too, for Games 3, 4, 5 of the Series.

Great stadium, by the way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Price could be the difference

Now we know why the Rays didn’t bring David Price up earlier. Why tip your hand?

The Red Sox didn’t know what they were dealing with when Price closed out Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

The Phillies didn’t look any more clued in Thursday when Price got the final seven outs of the Rays 4-2 victory in game 2 of the World Series, a win that evened the Series at 1-1.

The hard-throwing left-hander joined the Rays in mid-September and was used sparingly during the final weeks of the season. Rays manager Joe Maddon didn’t really use him at all in the American League playoffs until the eighth inning of Game 7 against the Red Sox.

It’s tough to formulate a scouting report on a pitcher you seldom see, though with Price, you’re going to see a high-90s fastball and a well-located slider.

Still, baseball people are only really comfortable when they think they know what’s coming.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both batted twice against Price on Thursday, so that might prove large in the next few games.

Yet, neither seemed to have a clue against Price.

The element of surprise, the ability to work more than one inning, the ability to dominate a pretty good lineup could be the difference in this World Series.

The Rays wouldn’t have had that advantage had they brought Price up in August or used him more in September.

Way to go, Joe!

The Rays’ Joe Maddon and Marlins’ Fredi Gonzalez, a pair of Sunshine State skippers who did more with less payroll, are Sporting News’ 2008 Managers of the Year, as selected by a panel of 18 major league managers.

Maddon, despite a payroll that ranks 29th out of 30 major league teams, has his team in the World Series as he presides over one of baseball’s most remarkable turnarounds.

He managed Tampa Bay to a 97-65 regular-season record, good for first place in the American League East, a division in which the Rays had finished out of last place only once in their 10 previous seasons of existence and never won more games than they lost in a season.

Maddon, 54, attributed the turnaround primarily to a pitching staff that matured, especially in one particular area: “Command of the fastball. Simplistic,” he told Sporting News. “Also, the bullpen in general — you can’t play this time of year without the bullpen we have.”

Gonzalez, meanwhile, had the Marlins — whose payroll ranked 30th out of 30 teams — in thick of the National League East race for much of the season, before Florida finished 84-77, in third place behind the N.L. champion Phillies and the Mets.

He credited his team’s approach to its success: “The guys believed in themselves,” Gonzalez, 44, told Sporting News. “They had confidence and came to the park every day ready to battle, and we always felt like we were in every game until the final out.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's up with the pole?

Been covering the Rays for 11 years. They make it to the World Series and here is my view from the auxiliary press box.

Great, two poles in the building and I’m behind one of them.

That would be the foul pole in left field. High up the foul pole, since the aux box is in the land that used to be known as The Beach and is now known as the tbt Party Deck.

The amount of media covering the series meant some of us had to give up our seats in the main press box to writers from some of the bigger papers around the country.

Actually, it’s not a bad view of the game. I mean, Carl Crawford is playing right in front of me, so how bad can that be? And I no longer have to worry about a foul ball crashing in to my laptop, which is a big worry when you sit behind home plate. No one has ever hit a ball this far at the Trop.

Besides, I’ve learned long ago that it is not important where you sit as long as you have a seat somewhere in the building.

I'll take the Series over the Stadium

I never made it to Yankee Stadium this summer. I wanted to.

I spent many days and nights inside the old ballpark and many dollars in the souvenir shops across the street buying those cool old black and white photos of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard.

I wanted to go back one last time and say good-bye to an old friend.

Never made it, though just about everyone I know did.

But, I’m going to the World Series.

At Tropicana Field.

Something I never thought I would ever cover, the World Series and a World Series game at the Trop.

Yankee Stadium was basically October’s stage, the scene of plenty of great World Series baseball.

Now it is the Trop’s turn.

Here we are on the afternoon of Game 1 and we can only wonder what memories await us during this Fall Classic.

I would have liked to have said farewell to Yankee Stadium; taken one last walk around the ballpark. But I have my memories and a few of those old photos.

Instead, I’m saying hello to the World Series.

You know what? I’ll take that trade.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baldelli gives Rays 2-1 lead

Had a good feeling about Rocco Baldelli all day.

Something about Baldelli getting the hit that delivers the pennant.

That could be true if this 2-1 lead holds up.

Baldelli singled home Willy Aybar to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Aybar opened the inning with a double to left field off Jon Lester.

The Rays could have had more runs, though. B.J. Upton lined out to short with runners on second and third to end the inning.

Will that haunt the Rays?

We’ll see.

Game 7 even at 1-1 after four

There is life in this building.

And some Rays offense.

Evan Longoria lined an opposite field double down the right field line with two outs in the fourth inning, scoring Carlos Peña all the way from first base with the Rays first run of the game.

Peña slid home ahead of the tag by Jason Varitek, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and tying this Game 7 of the ALCS at 1-1.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead six pitches into the game on a home run by Dustin Pedroia.

That was the only hit allowed by Rays starter Matt Garza, who has six strikeouts through four innings.

Red Sox starter Jon Lester was perfect through three innings.

Akinori Iwamura reached him for a leadoff single in the fourth but was erased on a force-out by Peña.

Longoria saved the inning with another clutch hit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Unlikely sources of power

It’s turning into a power game, and the power is coming from a pair of unlikely sources.

Jason Bartlett, who homered once during the regular season, drove a line drive into the left field seats in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score at 2-2.

The Red Sox went back on top in the top of the sixth when Jason Varitek homered to right-center field.

It was the 11th career postseason home run for Varitek, but his first of this postseason. What’s more, it snapped an 0-for-15 slide.

That hurts.

James Shields allowed a single to Coco Crisp, who turned out to be the last batter he faced.

Shields threw 109 pitches, 65 for strikes.

New home plate ump

Home plate umpire Derryl Cousins left the game after the third inning because of an injury suffered when he was hit in the chest with a foul ball.

Tim McClelland moved from first to behind the plate.

This might be nothing or it might be everything.

Cousins has a notoriously small strike zone, one that bothered Scott Kazmir in a game in Anaheim earlier this season.

Kazmir felt he was squeezed by Cousins, and Rays manager Joe Maddon was tossed in the seventh inning for arguing on Kazmir’s behalf.

Rays starter James Shields has been in and out of the strike zone for the first three innings. He walked three batters in the third inning as the Red Sox scored once to take the lead.

After a 15-minute delay, the umpires returned to the field. Shields took the mound and looked much sharper.

Was it the rest?

Or the new home plate umpire?


Upton for MVP

B.J. Upton is my vote for ALCS MVP.
Who else could it be?

The Rays center fie lder just hit an another bomb, this one hit the C-ring catwalk in left-center field to give the Rays a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Game 6.

That’s his fourth home run of the ALCS and his 15th RBI.

He is now tied with Troy Glaus for the most home runs in an ALCS and one shy of trying Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran for the most home runs in a single postseason.

Upton’s seven homers has tied Boston’s David Ortiz’s American League record for the most home runs in a single postseason.

The Rays win this thing, and Upton is the MVP.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crisp batting first for BoSox

Red Sox manager Terry Francona tweaked his lineup again for tonight’s Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, moving Coco Crisp to the leadoff spot and dropping J.D. Drew to sixth, where he will hit behind Jason Bay.

Jacoby Ellsbury is not in the lineup again, despite a career average of .286 against Rays starter Scott Kazmir.

Ellsbury, hitless in 14 ALCS at-bats, was benched for Game 4. Drew was moved to the leadoff spot, where he was 0-for-4.

Crisp is batting .300 against Kazmir. He was 1-for-2 with a double against Kazmir in Game 2.

Something to keep in mind tonight: starting the left-handed Kazmir will mean Jason Varitek and Jed Lowrie, a pair of switch-hitters, will bat right-handed. Varitek is hitting .284 right-handed as opposed to .201 left-handed. Lowrie is batting .338 right-handed and only .222 left-handed.

Zim says no rain

Don Zimmer, sitting in the visiting dugout at Fenway Park, looked at the sky and said there will be baseball tonight.

You could actually see some blue behind the clouds.

Zim would know. He’s only been in this stadium for about a billion games.

The tarp is off, and the Red Sox are taking batting practice.

A wet afternoon in Beantown

There are few sights in all of sports sadder than tarp covering an infield, especially when it is before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. But that’s how it is here at Fenway Park in Boston as the clock approaches 4:30.

A steady drizzle falls on this jewel of a ballpark.

All reports indicate rain won’t be a factor tonight, and the game is still scheduled to begin at 8:07 p.m.

We’ll keep you updated.

Kaz pitching tonight for Rays

The Rays will try to close out the American League Championship Series tonight with their least effective pitcher.

Manager Joe Maddon tweaked his rotation, skipping James Shields for Game 5 in favor of Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir, who has struggled in two postseason starts, has the better career numbers against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“We felt it was the right thing to do right now,” Maddon said. “We like that. We like the fact that he’s pitching with an open day following, the ability to utilize the entire bullpen. We also like the idea of him pitching here, and we like the idea of Shields being able to pitch at home, if necessary.”

Shields will start Game 6 on Saturday night at Tropicana Field should the Red Sox win Thursday.

If the series were tied 2-2, then Shields would have started tonight. But with the Rays leading 3-1, Maddon decided to have Kazmir start on his normal fifth day.

-- Roger Mooney

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The tarps will come off the seats near the top of Tropicana Field when the Rays return for a possible Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and/or for the World Series should they advance that far.

Tickets for Game 6 of the ALCS go on sale today to those who won the chance to purchase in the Postseason Ticket Opportunity through Winners will be notified by email this morning, and the special internet pre-sale will begin at 5:00 p.m. Any remaining tickets will go on-sale at, at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Now, for this stat, DUCK!

The Rays and Red Sox combined to hit 11 home runs through the first three games of this ALCS. It is the 16th time in 39 ALCS that the two teams combined to hit 10 or more home runs. The Red Sox have been involved in six of those series, including the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees when the two teams combined to hit 20 home runs in the seven-game series, which, fittingly, ended with a home run.

This is the third straight ALCS to produce at least 10 home runs and the 12th in the past 14 Octobers.

— Herald Staff

Friday, October 10, 2008

Game Tonight

It is October 10.

The Bucs have changed quarterbacks again.

High school football season, for some teams, reaches the halfway point tonight.

Florida plays LSU this weekend in a game that could have national title implications.

They’ve already dropped the puck on the hockey season.

And the Rays have a home game.

Against the Red Sox.

In the American League Championship Series.

First to four wins heads to the World Series.

The Rays.


Rays vs. Red Sox: A history of run-ins

Aug. 29, 2000. Perdro Martinez, perhaps tired of losing twice to the Tampa Bay Rays in two of his last three starts against them, drills Gerald Williams, and Williams responds by charging the mound. The Rays retaliate as Dave Eiland and a parade of relievers continue to throw at Brian Daubach. The benches clear again later in the game. A total of eight players are ejected, though Martinez is not one of them. He retires the next 24 batters and takes a no-hitter into the ninth inning where it is broken up John Flaherty.

Sept. 29, 2000. The Rays eliminate the Red Sox from playoff contention one month later, and Roberto Hernandez waves "bye-bye" after recording the final out. One night later, Morgan Burkhardt hits a two-run homer of Hernandez to erase a 2-1 deficit and start a three-run rally in the ninth for a 4-2 victory. The Red Sox are seen waving to Hernandez, though most use only one finger.

May 5, 2002. Ryan Rupe begins the game by hitting Nomar Garciaparra and Shea Hillenbrand in the first inning. Trot Nixon swings and misses at a pitch, and the bat flies out of his hand toward Rupe. Randy Winn gets plunked later in the game.

July 18, 2002. Esteban Yan and manager Hal McRae are ejected as Manny Ramirez and Brent Abernathy are both hit twice.

Sept. 9, 2002. Warned by the commissioner's office to knock it off, Derek Lowe nevertheless hits Felix Escalona twice.

Sept. 10, 2002. The Rays respond, drilling Doug Mirabelli, Garciaparra and Lou Merloni. Lowe and Rays pitcher Lee Gardner earn suspensions.

Sept. 27, 2004. Scott Kazmir empties the dugouts when he hits Manny Ramirez and Kevin Millar during consecutive at-bats. Kazmir was retaliating because Bronson Arroyo had already plunked Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez. Kazmir and Lou Piniella are ejected.

April 24, 2005. Bradenton's Lance Carter gets into the act when he throws behind Ramirez, who responds with a home run, and David Ortiz, who responds by making a move toward Carter. The ejections total six, and eight players are either fined or suspended. Two days later Curt Schilling calls out Piniella on his radio show. Schilling calls out Rays announcer Joe Magrane after Magrane criticizes Schilling during the Rays next telecast.

March 27, 2006. The volatile Julian Tavarez kicks Joey Gathright as Gathright scores on a wild pitch during a spring training game in Fort Myers. Tavarez slaps, then punches Gathright as the benches empty. Ty Wigginton breaks a bone in his right hand, and Taverez gets slapped with a 10-game suspension.

June 5, 2008. Boston fans finally get to witness a dustup of their own after Shields drills Crisp and bedlam ensues. Shields was responding to a hard slide into second baseman Akinori Iwamura by Crisp the night before. Three players are ejected, and eight are suspended, including Crisp and Iwamura.