Red Sox manager Terry Francona acknowledged there would be stolen bases against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, whose fluttering pitches give runners a good jump, take a long time to get to the plate and are hard to handle for catchers. Turns out, Francona was right. The Rays stole three bases (Carl Crawford had two) in the abbreviated, 2 2/3 innings by Wakefield.
Trop is tougher ticket
Fenway Park might tout itself as "America's Most Beloved Ballpark," but it turns out Tropicana Field has been a tougher ticket in the American League Championship Series. That's according to ticket broker Thomas Coehlo, who said front-row seats behind the Fenway dugout Tuesday went for just $350-$400, significantly lower than Game 3 ($550-$650), a 9-1 win for the Rays. Coehlo, a Rays season ticket holder, said tickets in the Home Run Club at the Trop for the first two games were about $1,500.
"For Red Sox fans, it's old hat to them; they've won before," Coehlo said. "They've got their tail between their legs. … Part of it is the economy, part of it is the newness is over. They're upset they're losing and who they're losing to."
By comparison, Coehlo said, ALCS tickets in the front row behind the dugout at Fenway in 2007 against the Indians were $1,500-$2,000 and ones in the 2004 ALCS vs. the Yankees were $2,000-$3,000.
The good luck dance
1B Carlos Pena often sets the tone in the Rays lineup. But it's the dance he does in the dugout before each game that keeps them loose. Pena said the moves, seemingly a hybrid of the haka dance, are actually a warmup routine of stretches and calisthenics he has done since Little League. Strength and conditioning coach Kevin Barr laughed at the derivation and told him to do it in front of the team. And early in September, Pena did, drawing a roar.
"They started laughing," Pena said. "And we won. The next day we come out, (manager) Joe Maddon said, 'Where's your dance?' We won again. All of a sudden it becomes a routine."
"It in part gets us loose, kind of reminds us to have fun out there," OF Fernando Perez said. "It's just kind of the character of the team, self-deprecating and young, and carefree. It's literally just a bunch of men yelling at a guy to jump off his hands. It's very silly, but I can't imagine a game without it."
And now the dance can benefit charity. There are shirts made with "Holla Pena" and "Do that dance" as part of an illustration, above, with part of the proceeds going to the Children's Cancer Center. They're available on encoreselect.com and at some retail stores.
Paint the corner
Boston artist Kevin Shea kneeled over an easel, touching up the perfect blue of the sky in his watercolor. Shea works all the corners surrounding Fenway Park, capturing street scenes of fans and passersby that he hopes they will buy as keepsakes. He was stationed at Van Ness and Yawkey Way. One of his portraits made at the World Series last year caught the attention of Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who bought a copy after seeing it on a local Web site. "I go down in about February and paint the Everglades, too," Shea said. "Plus, that's close to Fort Myers, so I can go over and see some spring training."
Pena's fan club
Carlos Pena, below, shared hugs and posed for pictures by the visiting dugout after batting practice. Pena, who grew up in Haverhill, Mass., had more than two dozen family and friends at Fenway Park for Game 4. That included Vincent Lembo, vice president of nearby Northeastern University, where Pena attended college.
Lembo said that Pena holds a special place in the heart of the university, where the Rays first baseman still holds the honor of being on the school's governing board. "No other athlete has that honor — that's how much people respect that guy," Lembo said. "We couldn't have picked a better ambassador for our school." After hearing Lembo rave, Pena's father, Felipe, told him that "because of those beautiful words you were saying about Carlos, he's gonna hit a couple home runs for you." Almost on cue, Pena hit a two-run homer in the first.
Instruments of Change
Glen Schubert, a Tampa man who wants to offer free musical instruments and instruction to children who cannot afford it, is selling a domain name he possesses, raysfever.com, on eBay to raise money, he said in a release. For information, check instrumentsofchange.com.
We're all day to day
Red Sox manager Terry Francona bobbed and weaved a question about whether slugger and playoff powerhouse David Ortiz is still ailing from a wrist sheath tendon injury that cost him 45 games and sapped his customary power. "I don't know if he's perfect. No, I doubt that. But I also don't think we want to sit him. That wouldn't make a lot of sense. (The Rays) have to make pitches. If they don't, if he gets one good swing, even when he's scuffling, if he makes one good swing, that could change a ball game. But I don't know if anybody is 100 percent. I haven't been 100 percent since 1976." Ortiz entered ALCS Game 4 0-for-10 after struggling in the division series, when he admitted he missed the few hittable pitches. Ortiz did come through with a triple in the seventh and is now 1-for-14 in the ALCS.
Pedroia, the throwback
Rays manager Joe Maddon on the qualities he sees in scrappy Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia: "He played in 1910, 1920, 1930, all the way up to present day. I think that the term throwback is thrown around way too loosely at times. When I saw his comments in the paper regarding their loss (Monday) where he was complimentary of us, but I could just sense from his attitude that he's just about beating you. So that's why I think he plays in every generation, because he's got all the right perspective." Historic homer
Tampa native and ex-Ray Kevin Cash became the second Red Sox player to hit a home run in his first postseason at-bat, joining Jose Santiago, who did so in Game 1 of the 1967 World Series against St. Louis.
Say hey, Willy
Rays manager Joe Maddon has seemingly made all the right moves this season, and Tuesday was no different. Maddon put switch-hitting Willy Aybar at designated hitter, instead of left-handed hitting Cliff Floyd. Of course, the numbers backed Maddon up. Floyd was 1-for-11 vs. Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield, and Aybar was 1-for-1 with a homer. But Aybar, batting from the right side, proved a good pick, hitting a two-run homer in the third and later adding two RBI singles.
The Red Sox and the city and county of Sarasota have broken off negotiations to move the team's spring training facility there from Fort Myers. The Red Sox have trained in Fort Myers since 1993.
Walk this way
The Rays led the majors in bases-loaded walks during the regular season (25). So it was only fitting that, in their five-run sixth-inning, the Rays scored with a bases-loaded free pass to Evan Longoria. Plays worth another look
1. Bottom of the second, one out, none on, Rays ahead 3-0. The Red Sox's Jason Bay had his bat busted by Rays RHP Andy Sonnanstine, and the flying barrel disrupted 3B Evan Longoria enough to create not one but two errors. One, he bobbled the soft grounder. Two, he threw it past first base and the ball bounced into the stands. When Mark Kotsay singled, it looked like trouble for the Rays. But 2B Akinori Iwamura and SS Jason Bartlett turned a slick double play on Coco Crisp to get Sonnanstine out of the inning unscathed.
2. Willy Aybar's RBI single in the fifth. TBS commentators had just pointed out how hard it is to score from second at Fenway Park on a base hit to left because of shallow leftfield. Then Carl Crawford raced around from second to score on Aybar's single. But Crawford gets an assist on the play — his threat of a stolen base had Red Sox SS Jed Lowrie out of position while trying to keep him close when Aybar hit the ball in the hole between short and third.