ALCS: Letting The World Series Slip Away?
Or, they stab the Red Sox with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast. Even though I’m not an Eagles fan, that stanza fits here quite nicely. After being seven outs away from the World Series with a 7-0 lead, the Tampa Bays imploded — well, at least their bullpen did — and allowed the Red Sox to steal Game 5, 8-7. The theft also allowed the “here comes the comeback” talk to increase in volume.
The series resumes in St. Petersburg, Fla., tomorrow night with the Sox still trailing, three games to two, but the catatonic Rays have to be doubting themselves after watching their World Series tickets dissolve in Fenway’s midnight madness. If you are a Rays fans, you have to worry. The young bucks choked the way few have choked before. They were inches from a clean getaway, a Fenway sweep that would have embarrassed the defending world champs and elevated the Tampa team to elite status. And they coughed it all up in three ridiculous innings.
Maybe next time, Joe Maddon will stay with the pitcher that’s working instead of going to the bullpen for going to the bullpen’s sake. Kazmir was pretty much unhittable last night and he was still dealing when he was replaced. His last inning of work was a three up, three down, two strikeout gem. Why replace him when the Red Sox are struggling mightily to even put a bat on the ball?
Nevertheless, the Rays are still up in the series and they still have two chances to close it out, starting on Saturday. If the Rays are going to do the deed, they’ll have to do it against Josh Beckett and perhaps Jon Lester. It would also serve them well to adopt the mentality of their manager:
If we had won it, we’d be in the World Series by now. We’ll just have to wait one more day, hopefully, to get that done,” the Rays’ manager said shortly after the game. “Listen. It is what it is. I don’t dwell on it. Nobody feels worse than the guys out of our bullpen right now. Nobody feels worse. They’ve done a tremendous job all year. I thought we played a great game.
“They just came back and beat us tonight. That happens sometimes. We’re going to go home, take tomorrow off and come back, and Shields will pitch in Game No. 6. But you can’t dwell on it. Again, we’ll lose for a half-hour or so, and then we’ll move on. We have another game to play.”
Game 6 is Saturday night and it’s danger of being overlooked by all the other sporting events that go one during college football season. Maybe that’s how the Sox planned it. If they do have to lose on Saturday, the impact might get lost in the wash of everything else that’s going on.