American League Division Series, Game 3
'We're on a mission from Garza'
Welcome to Chicago. The Second City, the city of Big Shoulders, where there's a broken dream and a steak joint on every corner.
The wind's been blowing a little colder - actually 62 degrees feels pretty good here - through this Windy City, with the Cubs swept out of the NLDS last night by the Dodgers. Today the White Sox could join them in postseason oblivion, but the Rays must finish the deal.
Matt Garza said last week he relished the opportunity to close the Rays' first playoff series before a hostile "blacked out" crowd at US Cellular Field and today he gets his chance. The White Sox have proven tough to KO in the last month of the season, so it'll be nothing less than interesting. ...
If it was easy ...
no one would care. Rays lose 5-3 and the Sox drawn within a game in the best-of-five ALDS.
One last chance ...
The Rays will send up Jason Bartlett (0-2, walk), Akinori Iwamura (2-for-4) and B.J. Upton (1-for-4, two run homer) in the ninth. The maligned Sox pen has been steady so far - Matt Thornton got a strikeout and a fist-bump from Willy Aybar - and you can fully expect Bobby Jenks to stride in to an electric atmosphere in the ninth, assuming the Sox don't tack on several in the eighth.
411 = 5-3
Well now, B.J. Upton's interesting day just added another facet. Two-run shot to left, 411 feet of it, and the Rays trail by two runs in the seventh. And Danks is done, perhaps the best news of all for the Rays. In comes Octavio Dotel to relieve.
Danks getting scary
John Danks proved himself as a big-game pitcher when he allowed the Twins just two hits on Tuesday in their one-game playoff for the AL Central. He's backing it up right now. He's struck out four of his last six batter since the White Sox gave him a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning.
The pack is back
Matt Garza drew the ire of the sellout crowd before the bottom of the fifth inning when he twice had umpires summon grounds crew to repair the landing spot for his left foot at the base of the mound. One television replay showed Garza’s foot slip visibly in soft soil after the first attempt by two men with shoves to scrape away loose soil and then pack it back down.
Well, then, the White Sox have returned
DH Jim Thome had been woeful in the series into Game 3 and his double off the center field wall was an ominous sign in what became a three-run inning for a 4-1 lead. The Rays have come from behind to win each of the first two games, but this is obviously different.
The Sox tie it
Does B.J. Upton have a play at home on Dewayne Wise if he doesn't muff Pierzynski's single?
The footing around the infield seems good enough despite the rain. Sox groundskeepers seem to have thrown the appropriate amount of drying compound about the place. Or so they would have you believe. Who knows, the Sox might have seeded the clouds to wet the track without need of shenanigans.
Don't forget this sequence, especially if this game is close
With one out in the first inning, the Rays had Akinori Iwamura on third and Carlos Pena on first when Evan Longoria lifted a flyball to right that Jermaine Dye hustled in to capture. It was not hit far enough for Iwamura to tag up.
TBS' switchboard is going to light up if somebody blows up that pigeon with a liner. Garza and Navarro shooed the thing away and now it's back ... with a buddy. Pigeons.
Took a lap around the ballpark as we wait out the rain and recorded the sounds of a very-black-clad crowd wiling away time. Home plate to the outfield concourse is here. (I stopped recording for a bit as my recorder was getting wet), and the right field stands back to home plate is here. There are some quaint bronze statues on the outfield concourse of Charlie Comiskey, Harold Baines and others, but I didn't linger to read the placques (forgot a hat).
Speaking of the crowd, it will be as black, as in real black. If not for the fact the White Sox have used a Crayola box of colors in their 107 years and their fans like vintage jerseys, the seating bowl would absorb the glow of the stadium lights like a black hole tonight.
That big red tarp on the infield is not a good sign. It's drizzling and it might keep it up until around 6 p.m.
The Rays are obviously the rage of the moment but this is a football town. That team called the Bucs will kick off against Denver at just about the same time as first pitch, so today figures to be the day a lot of area residents learn where the "picture in picture" button is on their remote control.
But we know you're a multi-tasking bunch and you'll have no trouble juggling two games in two sports and joining us here again for what has proved to be some lively discussion and a cool forum for Rays fans so far in the postseason. (Just do me a favor and lay off Stephen Holder's Bucs blog today)