October 20, 2008

Rays vs. Phillies

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

The never-say-die Rays did it. I didn’t think they could come back after that stomach punch win (to steal a phrase from Bill Simmons) in Game 5, but they did it. They even looked pretty dead in the water for Game 6 but in Game 7, when both teams were all-in, everyone on the Rays stepped up and showed why they deserve to be the American League champions.

Really, I couldn’t be happier with this turn of events. A city will get to feel the joy of being one top of the world, a young team will forever have great memories of making it to their sport’s pinnacle and most importantly, they’re doing it when nobody believed that they even had a chance to. A quick look at America’s Line and you have to scroll down pretty far to see Tampa Bay Rays sitting there, now at 5/2, but opened at an astounding 150/1. I wonder how many people plunked down a few bucks on that?

What great managing by Joe Maddon in the eighth inning; his use of pitching matchups was almost Larussa-like. Then sticking with the unheralded kid – David Price of only 10 major league appearances – to close out the Sox in the ninth; that was ballsy. Now Price will have that sort of clutch legacy that everyone will remember (especially because it was against Boston) and think about down the road, on his way to becoming a stud.

So now, the Phillies will travel to sunny Florida (is it still sunny and warm there in late October?) to start the Fall Classic on Wednesday night. Having the week off may be to the disadvantage of the Phillies – like the Rockies last year – as you seem to lose momentum and your hitters won’t be as fresh coming off that much downtime and having faced only batting practice pitchers for a while. The Phillies should hope that Cole Hamels is as good as he’s been recently because they might need him if the bats slumber.

And how’s this for a bit of irony: In the all-important all-star game, you know the one that decides home field advantage for the World Series, guess who the winning and losing pitchers were. Yes, Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir pitched the top of the 15th and got the win while Phillies closer, who hasn’t blown a save since last season, did so in the midsummer classic. So Philly, when you’re trapped in that hideous dome for Games 6 and 7 with the Series on the line, remember who put you there.

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