American League Championship Series, Game 6
It's very scary now ... ain't it? It's a one-game season
Once more, with feeling
Longoria, Crawford, Aybar due up in the ninth, almost assuredly against Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox are 30 outs (and a run tomorrow) from trying to defend their world championship.
How we feeling out there?
It would appear this is go time with Papelbon loosening in the pen. This Upton at-bat has a "must-have" feel for Rays.
Beckett is gone
Five innings, four hits, two runs, one walk, three whiffs and Boston in position to tie the series, leading 4-2. Hideki Okajima in for the Red Sox.
Very bad things
The starting pitching was not there tonight. Bullpen not shutting it down. Timing hitting, nope. And the defense is suddenly betraying them. Bad omens if you have a blue Mohawk.
Beckett is on pitch 48 with a one-hitter and cruising and Javier Lopez is up in the Boston pen. Perhaps the 15-minute delay allowed Beckett's balky oblique to tighten.
15-minute delay ends.
Derryl Cousins left the game because of an injury. He took a "blow to the chest area" (a Jason Varitek foul ball off the upper body) in the first. Tim McClelland is now at home plate, a disconcerting notion for a pitcher with perhaps an entirely new strike zone now in order.
One third down
RED SOX: Two runs, five hits
RAYS: One run, one hit.
James Shields has struggled, escaping a major jam to end the third. Josh Beckett, meanwhile looks more like the guy who went into the Bronx as a 23-year-old and shut out the Yankees in Game 6 to seal a world title for the Marlins.
There is a delay: Apparently home plate umpire Derryl Cousins was injured on a foul ball by Jason Varitek in the second inning and is being tended to. So everyone has left the field.
Talk amongst yourself. Here is a topic: Petrarch was arguably the most important figure of the Italian Renaissance.
Missed it by that much ...
... James Shields is flailing. Mark Kotsay was one grain of wood from putting that last pitch at least over B.J. Upton's head, maybe over the center field wall.
And except for one pitch, it seems the scary Josh Beckett is on the mound for Boston.
Are you nervous yet?
... play by Evan Longoria stopping a hard shot down the line and almost turning two on a ball that should have been in the corner. Mark Kotsay's subsequent single to right makes it even bigger. In a somewhat related note, the Red Sox are all over James Shields right now. Four hits and a J.D. Drew moon ball that just curled foul.
Here is a sound that will echo through your soul and torment your dreams if you're a Rays fan. It was the sound of a couple hundred Red Sox rooters mobbing the players' exit at Fenway Park about 1:30 in the morning Friday, screaming their lungs out as their team - which had overcome a seven-run, seventh-inning deficit to force a Game 6 in the ALCS - boarded a bus to begin its trip back to Tampa Bay. That sound will be multiplied by 10 and repeated upon their return if the Red Sox come back from a 3-1 ALCS deficit for the second year in a row, in the process knocking out the Rays.
The Rays have looked unitiated and baffled just a few times in their first postseason. Once came in Game 3 of the Division Series in Chicago. They ended the series the next day. After six innings of utter dominance in Game 5 against Boston, something happened again.
The question is: do the Rays respond again? Does this go to Game 7? Keep the champagne and Pepto both on ice.
And now, something cheesey to make you feel good.
If you're looking for a good omen ...
I passed a Rays' employee whose name is Chris Champagne will leaving the field to return to the press box just now. You know what that is used for.
Plenty of Red Sox jerseys inside the Trop tonight
And some Phillies t-shirts, here for some pre-emptive taunting of their future World Series foe. Should be an interesting night.
Apparently three tickets just shook loose
Times newshound Ed Encina informs me that "My Name Is Earl" star Jason Lee had three tickets to tonight's game, but called the Rays PR staff a while ago to cancel. Hopefully it had nothing to do with a second Chipmunks movie.
--- BRANT JAMES