Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Shooting from the lip: Rays-Red Sox Game 1

Random thoughts while watching Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Rays and Red Sox.

Word of the day

TBS announcer John Smoltz loves calling the Rays "Tampa.'' Let's hope he can find his way to the ballpark for Game 3 in St. Petersburg. Oh, speaking of TBS, who had a worse day: the Rays defense or the TBS cameramen? Were children running those things?

Worst name

Know what I learned? It's bad to have a two-syllable last name and make a giant blunder in the other team's park. Consider the Rays' Wil Myers backing off a fly ball that led to five runs. He was serenaded with "Myyyy-errrss, Myyyy-errrss'' by the Fenway crowd the rest of the day. You really can't do that with "Yastrzemski'' or "Saltalamacchia.''

Worst blunder

Wil Myers not catching a fly ball in the fourth inning that led to five runs was the worst outfield blunder in a division playoff game since 2009. That's when Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday butchered a two-out liner that, had he caught it, would have given the Cards a win over the Dodgers and a 1-1 tie in the best-of-five series. Holliday's error led to two Dodger runs, an L.A. victory and, ultimately, a series sweep. And who hit the ball Holliday dropped? James Loney, who now plays first base for the Rays.

Best line

"The Green Monster is eating Sean Rodriguez alive.''

TBS analyst Joe Simpson, pointing out that the Rays leftfielder was knocked around, kicked over and eaten by Fenway's famed 37-foot-2-inch wall on a couple of fly balls

Smartest line

"If there's any club that can deal with this, it's the Rays.''

TBS analyst John Smoltz, about the Rays potentially bouncing back from the 12-2 loss

Tweet of the day

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, a noted Boston sports fan, did give a nod of respect to the Rays with this funny line:

"I'm tired of the Rays buying their way into the playoffs.''

For the record, the Rays opened the season with a payroll of $57,895,272. You could put a "1'' in front of that and get pretty near the Red Sox's opening day payroll, $150,655,500.

Random concerns

Anyone else concerned that Matt Moore's once 98-mph fastball is now regularly clocked in the low 90s? … It's only two games, but Rays rookie Wil Myers is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts and an excuse-me swing dribbler as his only hit in the playoffs. This guy can be crazy streaky — good and bad — and the Rays can only pray that this isn't the start of a slump. … The Rays now have to win three of the next four. The Red Sox haven't lost three of four since mid August.

Interesting (and depressing, if you're a Rays fan) stat of the day

All nine Red Sox starters had at least one hit and scored a run, the third team in postseason history to do that. The others: 1936 Yankees (World Series Game 2 vs. Giants) and 1934 Cardinals (World Series Game 7 vs. Tigers).

Three things that popped into my head

1. Blame Wil Myers for his outfield miscue all you want. Criticize Matt Moore's uneven start. Knock the Rays' shaky defense, if you wish. But this was the real problem: The Rays managed just three hits in 7⅔ innings off Red Sox starter Jon Lester.

2. John Travolta attended Friday's game, sitting with Red Sox co-owner John Henry. Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton was at the Pirates-Reds NL wild-card game a few nights ago. You know the Dodgers are going to have a bunch of celebrities at their home games. Who are we going to have? An old wrestler (like Hulk Hogan, below right)? Someone send for Channing Tatum (below left), stat!

3. You know, it might be better to get pounded like the Rays did Friday than to lose an extra-inning heartbreaker. The Rays had to lose sooner or later, especially after winning three consecutive do-or-die games. They can shrug, chalk it up to just being one of those days and move on. So maybe Friday was no big deal. Or maybe they won't win again until April.

Did you know?

• Since the wild-card games began last season, all four winners of those games lost Game 1 of the Division Series (including Rays and Pirates this season).

• The Red Sox went 8-for-17 with runners in scoring position Friday. The only other time the Red Sox had more hits with RISP in a postseason game was the 1999 ALDS Game 4 vs. Indians (12 hits).

• The Red Sox scored 12 runs without a home run, their most runs in a postseason game without a homer. They're the first team to score at least 12 runs without homering in a postseason game since the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series Game 6 vs. Yankees. Here are the teams that have scored at least 12 runs without homering in last 50 years of postseason:

Series Team Opp.

2013 ALDS Red Sox Rays

2001 WS D'backs Yankees

1993 WS Blue Jays Phillies

1985 NLCS Cardinals Dodgers

1978 WS Yankees Dodgers

Source: ESPN Stats and Information

   
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