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World Series: Rays' careful planning goes for naught in clincher

PHILADELPHIA — As odd as the circumstances were Wednesday night in resuming the first suspended game in World Series history after a delay of 46 hours, things actually went pretty close to the way the Rays planned them out.

It was just a couple of unexpected hits by the Phillies — a double by Geoff Jenkins to start the sixth and another by Pat Burrell in the seventh — that messed things up in the final three innings of the 4-3 Series-ending Game 5 loss.

"That's reality TV at its best right there," manager Joe Maddon said. "The heck with Lost and all those other things, whatever, American Idol. Start a game in the bottom of the sixth. If you want to keep the fans interested, just go there.

"It's a tougher way to think. I had everything thought through before the game and a lot of things presented exactly as we thought it would, but they got hits when they weren't supposed to."

As if the circumstances and cold weather (44 degrees when play resumed) weren't odd enough, consider that God Bless America was sung before the game rather than the national anthem, the home team batted first and after warming up in the bullpen, reliever Grant Balfour went to the dugout before taking the mound.

Jenkins, hitless in his meager three postseason at-bats, led off with a double off Balfour that one-hopped the right-centerfield wall. He moved to third on a bunt and scored when Jayson Werth blooped a ball over the drawn-in infield that second baseman Akinori Iwamura, racing out with his back to the plate, couldn't hang on to.

"If Aki had made that play, it would have been a great play," Maddon said, "but it didn't happen."

The Rays tied it much more simply in the seventh as Rocco Baldelli — the cover boy of the new issue of Sports Illustrated — knocked the first pitch he saw from Ryan Madson into the leftfield seats.

They had a chance for more when Jason Bartlett, after a single and a bunt by, of all people, reliever J.P. Howell, tried to come around to score when Iwamura grounded a ball up the middle. But second baseman Chase Utley made a heady play after snagging the ball, faking a throw to first and firing home to nab Bartlett, who had his head down and didn't appear to be running all out.

"It's a good baseball play on both sides," Maddon said. "I liked what J.B. did, I didn't like what Utley did. It was a good baseball play. I would not change anything about it except that he would be safe."

Burrell's double, off the left-handed Howell, helped put the Phillies ahead to stay. Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett went to third on a groundout and scored when Pedro Feliz lined a single off sinkerballer Chad Bradford through the drawn-in infield. David Price took over in the eighth and shut the Phillies down, but the Rays couldn't rally against closer Brad Lidge.

Maddon said he wouldn't second-guess anything — playing the infield in, Bartlett trying to score, not bringing Price in sooner.

"It just did not work out," Maddon said.

World Series: Rays' careful planning goes for naught in clincher 10/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:58pm]
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