DH Cliff Floyd, who grew up in Chicago, said he was "thrilled" to have several family members in the stands to watch the two games in the Windy City. And Floyd made them proud Monday when his at-bat in the fourth sparked a two-run rally. With LF Carl Crawford running from first and no outs, Floyd delivered an RBI double off the leftfield wall.
Floyd said a prayer before the game for a special person who couldn't be there — his father, Cornelius, who died last year. "This is all about him," Floyd said. "I miss him like you wouldn't believe. … He's smiling down. I have a feeling he's gonna smile us all the way through."
Night and day
For 3B Evan Longoria, it has been tough to top his historic day at Tropicana Field on Thursday, when he hit homers in his first two postseason at-bats. The All-Star third baseman went 3-for-3 that day but was 1-for-12 in the series' final three games, with six strikeouts.
Difference of opinion
Cowbells might be all the rage at Tropicana Field, but, apparently, White Sox closer Bobby Jenks wasn't impressed. "Dumbest thing I ever saw," Jenks told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Just annoying. Minor league." But the White Sox's alternative of doing a "Blackout" where fans dress in black and wave white towels? "Whoever came up with that idea," Jenks told the Sun-Times, "is a genius. It brings electricity to us and excites 25 players." Lucky for Jenks, he won't have to see the Trop — until next season.
1B Carlos Pena missed most of the first two games with blurred vision in his left eye (scratched cornea). But Pena did a little bit of everything in Game 4, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two stolen bases.
TBS commercials airing throughout the playoffs have shown CF B.J. Upton and 3B Evan Longoria singing along to Bon Jovi's hit I Love This Town. In the clip, highlights from Tampa Bay's season are intertwined with the rock icon's performance. Longoria and Upton were filmed singing into their bats and dancing outside the Rays dugout, and the rookie third baseman said they were supposed to lip-synch. Even Longoria, an admitted fan of Bon Jovi (and singer Jon Bon Jovi, left), needed some prep work because he didn't know all the words. "Not that song," he said.
A legend grows
C A.J. Pierzynski, below, that evil baseball genius, apparently struck again in the White Sox's 5-3 win in Game 3. Pierzynski stealthily stuck his bat in front of C Dioner Navarro as he attempted to throw out LF Dewayne Wise stealing second base in the third inning. Wise reached safely and scored to tie it at 1 when Pierzynski singled.
Navarro said he didn't realize what had happened until he watched highlights of the game on television.
"That's the way he plays," Navarro said of Pierzynski, though he added later, "I'm pretty sure he didn't mean it." But Rays manager Joe Maddon said it was "not appropriate."
Wise said he didn't see anything, but if Pierzynski did it, it was okay.
"That's like if somebody's squaring around to bunt, they put their bat in the catcher's path so he can't come up and make the throw. That's part of the game," he said. "That's not dirty at all." Same old C.C.
LF Carl Crawford said he's starting to feel like his "old self" again. And the speedy two-time All-Star was especially frisky Monday, walking twice, stealing two bases and scoring. Crawford, who missed about two months with a hand injury, said the time off gave his legs time to get fresh. He wasn't kidding.
Now he's big
3B Evan Longoria has been added to the roster of players whose life-sized, peelable, stickable likenesses can be bought from Fathead.
And you can dance … for inspiration
TBS caught 1B Carlos Pena performing what looked like some hybrid of the haka dance and a swamp chicken mating ritual in the dugout. His explanation: "The guys saw me warm up, and they think I'm silly because I do these warmups that are kind of old-school. But now they want me to do it all the time. I give it to them because it makes them laugh and it makes them loose."
Taken for granted
The Rays' left-right combination of J.P. Howell (2.22 ERA in 891/3 regular-season innings) and Grant Balfour (1.54, 581/3) put the potent White Sox lineup on the canvas in the last 31/3 innings, allowing just two baserunners.
"(Howell) goes out there and I feel like it's game over," Balfour said. "And for (manager) Joe (Maddon) to give me the ball there … I'm sitting there in the bullpen and I want the ball, you know. I want to get in the game. I'm sure everyone does, and to finish the game with (Ken) Griffey and a strikeout, it's an awesome feeling."
Tokens of appreciation
White Sox head trainer Herm Schneider presented Rays manager Joe Maddon with two bottles of Argyle wine and the command to "take care of yourself" after the game. Maddon was so touched that he pulled away from live television interviews to thank Schneider, whom he became friends with during a 1995 junket to Europe.
What to watch, part II
Remember on Sunday when the Rays and Bucs had 4 p.m. games and there was some lively Internet debate on which one to watch live and which one to TiVo?
Well, it could happen again.
Imagine. If the ALCS goes its full seven games, the Rays play the Red Sox (here) or the Angels (there) on Oct. 19, most likely an 8 or 8:30 p.m. start on TBS. That happens to be the same night the Bucs host the Seattle Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium. Game time: 8:15 p.m. on NBC.
Think either network would be willing to move a game time up a few hours?