Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Longo brings spark Rays were looking for

All night, I was looking for the spark.  Something that showed me the Rays realized how precarious their situation was getting this year.  For the most part, I didn't see it.  Up and down the Rays went. Striking out. Grounding out. And flying out.  In the 8th, Evan Longoria looked like he had the spark... hitting a homer to tie the game.  But, then the Rays offense continued to putter and got no runs even with a bases-loaded, no out situation.

Then comes the bottom of the 13th.  By then, the game had become a battle of the wills.  Neither the Rays nor the Red Sox were giving an inch.  Each team was deep in their bullpen. The Rays had cleared their bench.  The rally energy was gone. Every one was looking for the big hit to end the game.  

It's moments like this that are the difference between good players and great players.  The great ones know they have to put their team on their back.  The great ones know that it's up to them. They know what they did before wasn't enough. They know they have to shake off their earlier failures and live for this moment. And that's what Evan Longoria did last night.  He responded. With his arms raised watching the ball go out of the park, Longoria once again showed what makes him so special. Longo showed why, at 23, he's one of the most popular players in the American League. He showed why he's the bane of Red Sox nation. Now, let's see how the rest of the team responds to that kind of leadership.

Here are some things I noticed in the Rays long 4-2 victory over the Red Sox:

  • Run Prevention rules. Before Longo's heroics, run prevention was the rule of the day.  The Rays pitchers and defense did a real good job of keeping the Red Sox from getting a rally going. Their 2 runs came off of solo shots from the normal Rays killers: Kevin Youkillis and Dustin Pedroia. But, other than that, the Rays kept them at bay with good pitching and solid defense.  If the Rays are going to be successful in catching the Red Sox and Yankees, run prevention is the key.
  • Line-up changes.  Joe Maddon kept his Sunday line-up intact for last night's game.  Jason Bartlett led off and B.J. Upton went down to the 7 spot. Meanwhile, Willy Aybar got the DH duties and Pat Burrell came off the bench. I'm not sure that the switch provided the "spark," I was looking for. The Rays entire offense looked listless against Jon Lester.  Bossman couldn't get anything going and Aybar's big play was a ground-rule double error (more on that later).  
  • The case of the equipment bags in the bullpen.  Although I don't like it, the umpires made the right call according to the rule book.  The fact remains that the Rays needed to push those runs across, regardless of the play before.  Not only that, the equipment bags shouldn't have been there.
  • The Red Sox upgrades aren't really that intimidating. The Red Sox were active at the trade deadline, getting Victor Martinez from Cleveland. But, to me, the Red Sox lineup was just as intimidating with a healthy Mike Lowell at 3rd and Youk at 1st.  Judging from last night's game, these teams are still pretty evenly matched.
  • Send the Red Sox to New York beaten and broken. The Rays have the opportunity to send the Red Sox up to New Yankees stadium beaten and broken.  Hopefully, they can keep that spark going tonight and finish them off.

1 Comment:

Bud Light said...

I'm just glad Maddon is starting to see the light
and playing the best players available and send loyality to the back of the bus!!
We now have a chance to save this season!!

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