Monday, 6 October 2008

ALDS game 3 - Not over yet

Tampa Bay Rays 3 - Chicago White Sox 5

The recipe was almost the same. An early deficit. A battling comeback. All that was missing was the happy ending.

Winning at the Trop against an experienced Chicago team is one thing. Doing so at a raucous US Cellular Field is quite another. Yet, that being said, the Rays made another good go of it last night in a rain-delayed, must-win game for the Sox.

We actually got on the board first thanks to an RBI-infield single from Aki Iwamura in the second. Perhaps a sign of things to come had already been shown at that stage however, as we left two men aboard in each of the first two innings against an impressive John Danks. We didn't take the chance to really get on top early and ultimately paid for it.

On the hill for the Rays, Matt Garza was mostly solid. He allowed the Sox to tie the game in the third, but generally had made a good start. Then came his bogey inning, the fourth, and a breakout for Chicago. Garza gave up a lead off double to Thome, and the Sox took advantage, eventually scoring three times in the frame to move into a lead that they wouldn't lose. They added another in the sixth to complete their scoring for the day.

Garza's final line (6IP, 7H, 5R, 4BB, 4Ks) wasn't his best, but was the sort of start that more often than not gives the hitters a chance. And, considering the power of the White Sox lineup, it can probably be counted as a successful start for a game in which he was lacking his best stuff.

The Rays' hitters though struggled against Danks. Nothing to show from the third, fourth, fifth or sixth.

But the battling remained. Rocco Baldelli led off the seventh with a walk. Bartlett and Iwamura couldn't get him in, but with 2 out BJ Upton stepped to the plate and crushed a prodigous homerun into the seats in left. 5-3, and the game was back on. Carlos Pena followed with a single, bringing the tying run to the plate in the shape of Evan Longoria. Ozzie Guillen went to the 'pen and brought in the veteran Dotel, who proved his worth ending the threat with a called third strike to Longo.

And that was that. Nothing much doing for the Rays in the eighth or ninth, and a first ever postseason loss to cut their series lead to 2-1. Considering the early pressure the Rays put on Danks, it was a disappointing showing in the end. Some impatient hitting, admittedly combined with some impressive pitching, meant that to be honest even after BJ's homerun you never really got that special Rays' comeback feeling.

Still, two more chances to wrap things up. The first of which is tonight in what is a MASSIVE game for Andy Sonnanstine. He has been great all year, and I'm a big fan, but this is going to test him like never before. While a loss isn't the end of the world, going back to the Trop for a winner-takes-all decider is a far from ideal position to be in. Add to that the homerun-hitting lineup to the power nature of the park, and its a huge challenge. Perhaps even moreso for a pitcher like Sonny who relies on making hitters put the ball in play. He's going to need to pitch just about his best game of the season, with more pressure than he's ever experienced.

It's a big ask.

Go on Sonny, we believe!!!

No comments: