Monday, 13 October 2008

ALCS game 1 - They get knocked down...

Ok, some delayed blogging going on here, and for once its not because I didn't stay up to watch the games live, but rather because I did. I went to bed a 7AM on both Friday and Saturday night (should that be Saturday and Sunday morning?) and believe me the lack of sleep was not conductive to writing of any kind, let alone highly polished (hmmm...) baseball analysis. To be honest I'm still incredibly tired this morning, but I remain totally committed to not missing a single pitch of the Rays' postseason! Anyhow, here's my game 1 recap, game 2 will follow shortly:

Boston Red Sox 2 - Tampa Bay Rays 0

The story of Friday night's game one was simple. James Shields was outstanding. The Rays' hitters were not.

Ok, so they did have to deal with an in-form Daisuke Matsuzaka, but despite him holding Tampa Bay hitless through six innings, we still had plenty of chances. Indeed thanks to Shields' performace we had chances to win.

The first of those chances came in the first inning when Dice-K walked the bases full of Rays. Cliff Floyd couldn't come through in the clutch, and then Matsuzaka settled down. He eased through the next five innings (aided by some very un-selective Rays swinging), until Carl Crawford led off the seventh with a single. Floyd followed with a single of his own, and the Rays were threatening to tie the game up with runners on first and third and nobody out. No help. Pop fly, strikeout, groundout and the Red Sox were out of the inning.

The final chance came in the eighth, and rather summed up the Rays' day at the plate. Singles from Aki Iwamura and BJ Upton led off the inning, and finally chased Matsuzaka, with Terry Francona bringing in Okajima to face Carlos Pena. Pena took 3 straight balls, and then swung at the 3-0 pitch, getting it off the end of the bat and flying out tamely to right. Justin Masterson then came on to pitch to Evan Longoria and continued Longo's miserable run at the plate by getting him to ground into a threat- and effectively game-ending double play.

James Shields (7.1 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) can feel rightly proud of his effort on the mound, but ultimately left with the loss. In total the Rays managed just 4 hits, while striking out 11 times. And just like that, their homefield advantage was gone - to get to the World Series they'd have to win at Fenway.

And they would absolutely HAVE to win game 2.

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