American League Division Series, Game Two
Watermelon = White Sox; Crazy dude = Rays. (But you got that).
You can un-grip the recliner armrest now ... the Rays have released the hounds. 6-2 after a dunk Dioner Navarro RBI single (scorer says double, but, come on)
Chad Bradford in to finish.
Rays' margin for error just got a little wider, courtesy a B.J. Upton triple and a follow-up single by Carl Crawford.
4-2 Rays in the eighth. White Sox going to Octavio Dotel. And you can fully expect Carl Crawford to seen try to steal second base off A.J. Pierzynski, who last night admitted holding baserunners on is "not something we do (well)."
Upton had been having a tough night - 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a pop-up.
Dan Wheeler ...
... up in the pen. It would appear J.P. Howell needs no help at this point, but Wheeler is the closer. A homer allowed like yesterday would be .... not good for the Rays.
Crucial spot here: the Sox 2-3-4-5 hitters are either going to come up in the eighth or ninth. That includes Jim Thome, an you remember what he did Tuesday.
Balfour vs. Cabrera, II
... this time it's personal. Man on second and one out, Balfour coming in to face Cabrera, intriguing considering last night's fun.
And Balfour shuts it down. 3-2 Rays, entering the bottom of the sixth.
QUESTION: Should Balfour be the Rays' closer?
Well now that changes everything
Akinori Iwamura gets a curtain call after a two-run homer. What hasn't this guy done for the Rays this season? The rather massive contingent of Japanese media that jumped off the Yankees/Matsui beat will be bustling tonight.
Did you know ...
... that Scott Kazmir's lifetime 9.74 strikeouts/9-inning ratio as a starter is second all-time among lefties? He trails only Randy Johnson and (10.63).
Kazmir continues to have fits and starts, but he's clearing settled in after a rough first couple innings. Perhaps the sight of David Price working in the pen as he pitched from the stretch proved inspirational. Still, his pitch count is already in the 80s and he'll not last much longer no matter what he does.
Due up for the Rays: Longoria, Aybar, Baldelli.
Anybody out here ...
... go to Game One. Would love to hear your observations, how the Rays/Trop staff handled their first postseason game. What was good/bad?
The lefty settled in the third, producing his first 1-2-3 inning. Buehrle's back on the hill after his shortest sit of the game, an inning after allowing three hits and a run. It could be, as the kids say, go time.
Chad Bradford, the righty and David Price, the lefty.
And David Price is still working in the pen as the Rays bat. Hmmmm. Kazmir remains in the game, however.
Everyone seems sort of surly right now.
Let's lighten it up, shall we?
Longoria's up ...
... close your windows. Nevermind. 4-3, inning over.
37 pitches, 17 strikes ...
... but Kazmir gets out of it only down 2-0. Mark Buehrle had enough time to walk down to The Pier and feed the pelicans. It'll be interesting to see if the long wait as an ill effect.
Umm, that's bad
Fairly disconcerting start if you're a Rays fan. HBP, BB, 1B. One mound conference already. How long do you stay with Kazmir with the bullpen pretty fresh? Thoughts?
Is everyone tired?
It's pretty subdued inside Tropicana Field tonight. That's somewhat understandable considering how amped the crowd was on Thursday for the Rays first-ever postseason game, but, seriously, it's Friday night.
Pena scratched again:
The Rays just made a lineup change, removing the first baseman Carlos Pena because of blurred vision. He apparently scratched his eye at home on Wednesday night and has experienced blurred vision since. Pena lasted one at-bat yesterday before removing himself from the lineup. Willy Aybar will play first base again and Fernando Perez has entered in right field for Rocco Baldelli, the original starter. Baldelli is now the DH.
Welcome back for Game 2, a massive one for the Rays. They could put a major headlock on the series or they could leave for Chicago with the series anew. A daunting task considering the disparity in the Rays record on the road as opposed to at the Trop. And the fact they get John Danks, another lefty, at US Cellular Field.
Hall of Famers, plus one:
Cool moment around the batting cage a few minutes ago with former Red/Oriole Hall of Famer Frank Robinson having a lively conversation with the White Sox Ken Griffey Jr. He will certainly join Robinson one day in Cooperstown, and it's intriguing to think what his statistics could be had he not lost so much time to injury and work stoppages.
Oh, and Harold Reynolds was there, too.