Monday, 20 October 2008

ALCS game 7 - American. League. Champions.

Say it slowly.

Say it again.

Believe it.

The 2008 American League Champions are the Tampa Bay Rays.

Playing for the 2008 World Series title will be the Tampa Bay Rays.

Boston Red Sox 1 - Tampa Bay Rays 3

Seven outs away, and coasting to a five-game win, to a game 7 decider against the defending World Champion Red Sox. I cannot begin to tell you how nervous I was last night. As it turns out, I was far more nervous than anyone wearing a Rays uniform.

And you know what? After all they have done this year, that doesn't even surprise me anymore. They have taken on the best all year long, and they have never waivered and never faltered. They are unbelieveable.

And last night, no-one was more unbelieveable than Matt Garza. He gave up a homerun to the second batter of the game, and then nothing. He simply powered through the dangerous Boston lineup time and time again. He didn't allow another hit until the seventh inning. He left after 7+, having struck out 9 and given up just the two hits. It was a magnificent display of pitching under huge pressure. And nobody could possibly argue that he wasn't a worthy choice for the series MVP.

Garza's performance was just one of a littany of storybook tales that helped sned the Rays to their storybook World Series. The relief effort might have been even bigger. Dan Wheeler, JP Howell and Chad Bradford all pitched to a batter or two in the eighth, as Boston loaded the bases with two out and JD Drew coming to the plate. Who does Joe Maddon call from the 'pen? David Price. A 23-year-old rookie with just 5 regular season appearances. Crazy?

Nah. Because David Price was clearly the coolest man in the Trop. Slider, slider, fastball, fastball. JD Drew struck out, inning over. Price comes back out for the ninth. He walks the leadoff man, but again shows his remarkable calmness - strikeout, strikeout, ground ball. His first ever save. In game 7 of the American League Championship Series. This kid is something special.

So is Evan Longoria, whose impressive battling at-bat was responsible for tying the game up in the fourth. He fought off several pitches before flipping a pitch down the right field line for an RBI-double. And the way Garza was throwing, even against Jon Lester, only one team looked likely to win it.

Move on to the fifth, and Willy Aybar is on second. Rocco Baldelli comes to the plate with an 0-6 career mark against Lester. This is a Rays' fairytale right? Well then, how about a game-winning RBI for a long-tenured Ray who had earlier in the year been diagnosed with a condition that left him in a constant state of fatigue, and which meant that he wasn't certain whether he would ever play Major League Baseball again. Sounds good to me. Rocco slapped the ball into left for a single and Aybar came motoring around to score the go-ahead run.

Aybar has been a bit of a hero for the Rays this season as well, and he gave the team some breathing room in the seventh, going deep for the second time in the series..

And now the Rays are going to another series.

The World Series.

I'm not quite sure I can believe it.


Cyn said...

Congratulations!!!! I'm very happy for you!

I'm sad that the Sox lost Game 7, but quite proud of my team. They have no reason to feel badly about this season.

It JUST hit me that I get sad every year when the season finally ends. But for Rays fans...REAL Rays fans...their season has always ended at the end of September and this year, for the first time EVER, it'll end at the end of October.

It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? I'm truly happy that you're getting to experience that!

Take care!

John said...

Thanks Cyn, you're right - its absolutely awesome!

Michael Norton said...

Congratulations, John! Savor every moment of it because you don't know when, or if, it will come your way again.

Michael Norton
Some Clubhouse