Sunday, 27 April 2008

Aki picks his moment

Boston Red Sox 1 - Tampa Bay Rays 2

I kind of feel this morning as though I need to set up an auto-complete for the blog, where I can just press a couple keys and make a whole paragraph about a battling performance appear...

Yesterday, I wondered whether the good or the bad Edwin Jackson would turn up. Well, he was wild, but the good kind of wild, definitely putting his last two starts behind him in impressive fashion. He worked 7 innings, and allowed only five hits to the potent BoSox lineup. He gave up just a solitary run in the fifth - an unlucky run at that. After Coco Crisp reached first, a wild pitch eluded Shawn Riggans long enough for him to go all the way to third. With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury then ripped a ball down the third base line. Evan Longoria made an awesome diving stop, but couldn't quite get it to first in time. It was still a great play though, very much in keeping with our recent defence.

As good as Jackson was, that one run looked as though it was going to be enough for the Sox. The reason - Clay Buchholz. Now, the Rays have had some good pitching performances this year, but that was something else. He was, for most of the game, simply unhittable. Through 7 innings, the Rays had but a single hit, a BJ Upton double in the fourth. But, and I think I've mentioned this before, we have some serious battle this year.

So, one out in the eighth, and up comes Dioner Navarro to pinch hit. He fights through his at-bat, and eventually finds a pitch he can stay with and bloops it into right for a single. One out later, and Aki Iwamura to the plate. Aki looked for a curveball, and when it came he didn't need asking twice. He belted the ball over the fence down the right field line - his first homerun of the season. 2-1 Rays.

Cue some rapid action in the bullpen. Trever Miller and Scott Dohmann had pitched the eighth, and after a very quick warmup, Troy Percival came in for the ninth. And he looked good for his day off Friday, forcing two quick fly outs, before striking out Varitek on a nasty changeup to seal his fifth save of the season (and fourth this week).

That's five straight wins now, a 13-11 record, and I tell you something - I am enjoying this. We are playing some superb baseball, and even when we're up against things, we are still working, still fighting, not giving up. And thats the way it should be.

This afternoon's series finale is one that you do not want to miss - James Shields against Josh Beckett as the Rays go for the sweep. There'll be a different Ray in uniform, as infielder Andy Cannizaro was called up from Durham after the game, Elliot Johnson being optioned back to make room.

2 comments:

Pat (RayBiscuits) said...

Hey John-
That little comment about Andy, the "new kid in town" made me look forward to his performance... but he didn't play at all. In case you missed the game, I won't tell you anything about it. But it was another pitchers' duel as one would imagine.
-Pat (www.raybiscuits.mlblogs.com)

John said...

Hi Pat - as you can see now I certainly did watch last nights game. And I think its fair to say I enjoyed it a lot! Awesome performnce by Shields.

I think Cannizaro is mostly going to be the utility back-up guy. And if Bartlett keeps up his good fielding, he might not get much action!