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Rays, Red Sox say rivalry's just getting started

ST. PETERSBURG — Sunday's game was the 25th of this season, the 194th overall and clearly the most significant between the Rays and Red Sox.

But there are likely to be some more big games between the teams in years to come.

The rivalry is really just starting, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Sunday, and has a chance to continue for a long time.

"I think it's been established," Maddon said. "A lot of this turning the corner is incumbent on us winning. … The word 'rivalry' is tossed out way too loosely sometimes. In the past the rivalry's been built on the fact that there's been altercations between the groups, which I think is totally wrong. That just means the teams have been fighting.

"But now you have two teams — I know they consider us a peer at this point, I know all the respect they have for us has grown dramatically. And that's how you become a rivalry. You don't become a rivalry because you want to fight somebody. You just become adversarial, and there's a difference."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona agreed and said he expects the Rays to be good for a while.

"It makes life in the American League East difficult," Francona said. "We all know what the Yankees can do and are capable of doing. The Blue Jays have an unbelievable pitching staff and some injuries that maybe kept their winning total down this year. And then all of a sudden you've got another team that comes out and wins 97 games. We beat up on each other, and it's hard.

"It makes life very difficult, and it's not going to get easier because they're not going to go away."

Rhode Island Rocco: With so much at stake Sunday, New Englander Rocco Baldelli heard from several people in and around his home state of Rhode Island.

Although Baldelli said, "I'm probably going to treat it like every other game that I played this year," he could tell by the dozens of text messages on his phone that his friends and relatives were not.

"I'd say most of the people I know are rooting for me," he said. "But there are some who say, 'I hope you get four hits and lose.' "

Lining up: With the Sox starting LHP Jon Lester, Maddon went to his more right-handed lineup, with switch-hitter Willy Aybar at DH and Baldelli in rightfield.

After saying pregame Saturday that he still had faith in struggling RF Gabe Gross, Maddon had Ben Zobrist pinch-hit for him after a third-inning strikeout that extended his postseason disaster to 1-for-16 (0-for-10 in the ALCS).

"I just didn't like the first at-bat," Maddon said. "We were already down by a run; we had to just try to gain some more offense right there. I thought we needed to do something to score. Ben had been swinging the bat well in batting practice still. If we had been up, I would not have done it."

Going deep: With one swing in the first inning Saturday, B.J. Upton tied three records: seven homers in the postseason matched the AL mark (Troy Glaus, 2002 Angels); four homers in an LCS matched a record shared by seven others (including teammate Evan Longoria); and 11 RBIs tied the LCS mark (David Ortiz, 2004 Red Sox).

Upton's 15 RBIs overall for the postseason are four shy of the record shared by Ortiz, Sandy Alomar (1997 Indians) and Scott Spiezio (2002 Angels). The seven homers are one shy of the mark shared by Barry Bonds (2002 Giants) and Carlos Beltran (2004 Astros).

The 13 combined homers by Upton and Longoria are one shy of the postseason mark for teammates, held by Bonds and Rich Aurilia (2002 Giants).

Miscellany: RHP Troy Percival told team officials he planned to return Sunday, but as of shortly before game time, he had not been seen at the Trop. … SS Jason Bartlett was the first player hit by a pitch twice in ALCS play since Detroit's Pat Sheridan in Game 5 in 1987.

Rays, Red Sox say rivalry's just getting started 10/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 6:11pm]
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