Rays-White Sox: ALDS Game Two Fan Reaction/Game Three Preview

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IOctober 4, 2008

I said someone had to step up if the Tampa Bay Rays wanted to beat battle-tested lefty Mark Buehrle in Game Two.

That player for the Rays was second baseman Akinori Iwamura, hitting an opposite-field blast off Buerhle to take a one-run lead, which put the Rays ahead for good.

Honestly though? Iwamura hitting a home run under playoff pressure? Maybe this is a sign that things are going too well for the Rays, and that they are destined for greatness this season. This is a guy who slaps the ball comparable to Ichiro, and hit six home runs in 627 at-bats this season.

We all knew Rays' ace Scott Kazmir would be exceptional, and he certainly didn't disappoint.

Baseball nation needs to start getting to know the Rays' bullpen, though. They were absolutely outstanding once again in preserving the win for Kazmir in Game Two. J.P. Howell threw two innings of scoreless baseball and left me wondering, where the hell did he come from?

Howell went from 1-6 last season to 6-1 this year with a minuscule 2.22 ERA. It seems like everything has clicked under the Joe Maddon regime.

One of my best friends from college said before this season that it would be "the Rays' year." I'll happily admit that I thought he was utterly insane.

If you don't live in Florida, there's probably only a handful of you who thought the Rays could make such an unpredictable run.

Don't look now, but the Rays still need a win! Looking forward to Game Three:

1) Matt Garza goes for the Rays, John Danks for the White Sox at the Cell.

Both of these pitchers don't allow a whole lot of runs, but because they're back at home, the White Sox have the advantage.

2) Rays showing maturity.

As their leader Carl Crawford said in a postgame interview with MLB.com after the 6-2 Game Two win, "2-0 is definitely a good feeling, but there is no guarantee." This gives me a lot of hope for the Rays, because their vocal leader understands the real meaning of the playoffs.

3) The White Sox bats have to come to life.

Six runs over two games isn't going to cut it for the Southsiders. If Danks wants some security, the White Sox need to get after Garza early. Garza has given up 12 earned runs in the first inning this season in 30 total innings, so it will be very interesting to see if the big bats of Konerko, Dye, and Thome can get after him early and often.

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