Game One, American League Division Series
Rays 6, White Sox 4
See you tomorrow.
Bottom of the eighth, 6-3 Rays.
Three more White Sox batters in the ninth + no baserunners = Game 1 playoff win for Rays.
This just got interesting
Rays and Sox coaches and players exchanged unpleasantries after Grant Balfour struck out Orlando Cabrera to end the seventh with the bases loaded. Cabrera, possibly responding to Balfour's typical self-directed jawing, had earlier made a kicking motion at the mound, prompting Balfour to take several steps toward the plate. The situation settled by home plate umpire Joe West, Balfour went on to whiff Cabrera, at which point he stormed off the mound, fist-pumped and began yelling to no one in particular again.
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen stepped from the dugout and began screaming, as did Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. Sox catcher A.J. Pierzysnki, who had been a first base, expressed his feeling all the way back across the diamond as Rays catcher Dioner Navarro first stepped in front of Cabrera, then Martinez.
Up Down Under
Grant Balfour is entering the game.
And now presenting, more great Australians.
Rays playing the Hulk Hogan card
A lengthy mid-inning spot was dedicated to letting Hulk Hogan, Knobs and John Cena pump up the crowd. Didn't work too well. The masses seemed a little lukewarm on the Hulkster. Question: Has that shipped sailed, in your opinion?
Javier Vazquez has been sufficiently Longo'd
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has removed starter Javier Vazquez for reliever Clayton Richard. Vazquez will likely see Evan Longoria in his slumber tonight at the Vinoy.
Longoria's line so far:
3-for-3, 2 home runs, three RBIs.
Vazquez's line: 4.1 innings, eight hits, six runs, earned, 86 pitches, 54 strikes.
Longoria mannishness update
His third-inning homer hit the C-Ring 125 feet above the field
According to SABR, he is also the SECOND player ever to hit homers in his first two postseason at-bats. Gary Gaetti did it with the 1987 Twins.
He's up again in the fifth. Duck, Gulfport.
Rays first baseman Carlos Pena left the game with what the team called "slightly blurred vision in his left eye" after scratching it at his home last night. A team spokesman said the injury is not considered serious and he is expected to play in Game 2 tomorrow.
Memo to Carlos Pena: Don't use that new woodchipper without goggles again until after season. (I'm kidding. I have no idea how he scratched his eye).
End of three, 4-3 Rays: Huge, huge, huge inning. Tying it with some great hustle by Akinori Iwamura (triple, run) and Jason Bartlett (run) was one thing, but Evan Longoria's second homer after the game-tying sac fly by Aybar ... well, huge.
(Pictured: Akinori Iwamura slides home safely. Times photo -- Dirk Shadd. Click to enlarge.)
Also, will be interesting to see how Shields attacks this inning after sitting awhile.
Re: Prediction time:
Anyone have Evan Longoria in the pool? Home run to left.
James Shields is, dare we say, feelin' it right now.
Two innings, no hits, two Ks, one ball out of the infield.
Amaze the blogosphere with your smarts! Who will have the first base hit in Rays postseason history?
Trivia question to get you free beer at The Green Iguana forever
First pitch, Rays postseason history: James Shields to Orlando Cabrera, 2:38 PM. Strike.
Here's the introduction of the entire Rays team for your listening pleasure.
The White Sox were introduced to what would be described as just less than a smatter of applause. Former Ray and Odessa resident Toby Hall got a couple cow bell clunks. Sounding like a partisan crowd today.
Ouch. Former Ray and Sox manager Ozzie Guillen got booed. Nice hand for future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. ... A.J. Pierzynski ... not so much.
An hour and change til game time. Goosebump practice.
And did you ever notice Kevin Costner's character was named 'Ray'? Just sayin'
- BRANT JAMES
The sun came up over Treasure Island this morning. My Pinellas County property taxes went down. A Democrat was leading Florida polls in the presidential race.
The Rays are hours from beginning the ALDS against the White Sox.
What!?! Ridiculous. ...
Welcome to the epicenter of the Apocalypse, Tropicana Field, where the Rays play their first postseason game in a matter of hours. I'll blog live from every playoff game until the hometown nine is either ousted or hefting the World Series trophy, and you're invited along.
This is your forum. We can kick the can on strategy - "You gotta bunt right there!" - chat about the team whatever you like. Your call. Keep it clean, keep it clever ... and stay classy Tampa Bay.
10:43 a.m. - American Flag-rolling/waving practice is about to begin in left-center field with dozens of military members holding a monstrous Old Glory.
TRIVIA QUESTION: (and an easy one) What do Terry Crisp and Tim Marcum have in common, and how can Joe Maddon join their fraternity?
QUESTION: What's your excuse for ditching work today so you can attend/watch the game?
11:41 a.m. - The Rays have taken the field for pre-game warm-ups.
It is soooo close to lunchtime ...