Random thoughts while watching Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Rays and Red Sox.
The Rays look like a team that simply has run out of gas — physically, emotionally, mentally. In two games in Boston, they looked nothing like the team that racked up 92 wins with strong pitching, near perfect defense and timely hitting. Instead, the pitching was spotty (25 hits allowed in two games), the defense was awful and they hit in small bursts. You could hardly blame them. The Rays spent 12 days on the road. They went from, in order, Tampa Bay to New York to Toronto to Texas to Cleveland to Boston and back home. That's a total of 6,303 miles. Along the way, they played — and won — three do-or-die game in three cities in four days. No wonder they look like they keep hitting the snooze button on this series.
Oh, there's one other thing to consider as a reason why the Rays are down 2-0. Maybe the Red Sox are better. There's a reason why the Red Sox easily outdistanced the Rays in the American League East, you know.
It's hard to gripe about Fenway Park with the Green Monster and odd angles and weird distances and whatnot. After all, the park has only been there for, what, 101 years? Plus, the Rays play there just about more than any other park other than Tropicana Field and they get the same chances to bat the Red Sox do. Still …
I don't ever want to hear anyone whining about the catwalks at the Trop. Those things come into play a handful of times a season. But how many fly balls that should be outs clank off the Green Monster? The Red Sox hit two of those Saturday and both led to runs. Having said that, the Rays, through two games, acted like they had never seen Fenway, let alone played there.
Although Rays fans probably didn't dig it, one of the better TV moments of the day was watching a replay of Rays pitcher David Price reacting to Ben Zobrist throwing a ball away on a potential double-play ball in the fourth inning.
Playing the rhyming game, Price said something like, "Oh wham!''
Rough day for Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist. Not only did he have an error, he left five runners on base, including an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and the Rays down, 6-4, in the seventh inning. It was the pivotal play of the game, although it was a fairly routine 4-6-3 double play and not quite the play of the century as the TBS announcers made it out to be.
You gotta love Rays rookie outfielder Wil Myers. Give the kid credit, he took some major ribbing from the Boston crowd and handled it with class and grace. The Fenway Park crowd started riding Myers early in Game 1 when he backed off catching a fly ball. They jeered him with "Myyyy-errrrs, Myyy-errrs'' for the rest of Game 1 and for Game 2. Yet, he showed what kind of person he is by signing autographs for Red Sox fans before Game 2 and then flashed a big smile after he got a standing ovation for catching a routine fly ball in the fifth inning Saturday.
Most telling number
Rays starter David Price got stronger as the game progressed, but here's how you know he struggled early. (Well, other than those six runs he gave up in the first five innings.) According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Red Sox swung and missed at only two of Price's first 57 pitches.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Was that the last time we ever saw David Price on the mound in a Rays uniform?
2. The Rays should absolutely do what they can to bring back Delmon Young, unless he asks for just too much money. But if he is willing to play for a few million, the Rays sure could use him. He's the closest thing they've had to a legitimate designated hitter in a long time.
3. This is the second time the Rays have fallen behind 2-0 in a playoff series. The last time was 2010 when they dropped the first two games at home to the Rangers then won two in Texas to force a deciding Game 5. Bold prediction: the Rays will force Game 5 again in this series.