Tampa Bay Rays' starting pitcher Matt Garza got touched up, but it was a flat out ugly game for the AL East Champions.
Chicago White Sox starter John Danks was downright filthy, despite giving up a two-run blast to centerfielder B.J. Upton that closed the gap to 5-3 in the seventh inning.
Overall though, I was really disappointed with the Rays' performance. It's not necessarily that I thought they would crush the White Sox on the road, but they couldn't get anything going on offensive. When they did, they stranded runners; nine of them to be exact.
Here's one enormous positive that I take away from this game, though. The Rays' bullpen was phenomenal once again! Bradford pitched two brilliant innings, putting up all zeros to keep his team close.
Thanks to Danks, however, the Rays didn't have many chances to score runs.
Let me express how impressed I was with this kid. He started out the game rocky, but what else can you expect from a young pitcher making his playoff debut? Otherwise, once he settled down, the strikeouts piled up.
The Rays had just four players with hits, all of whom found the field twice.
Lastly, I want to talk about the performance of White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. He is widely-known for his unbelievably overpowering fastball, but he dropped a 12-6 curveball to strike out Carlos Pena to end the game. He made things interesting by allowing Upton to reach with two outs, but quickly got ahead of Pena 0-2 and finished him off with the aforementioned golden pitch.
Looking Forward to Game Four (Keys for the Rays)
1) Don't get too anxious.
You lost a game, but you are still a game ahead in the series. It's an old cliche, but this isn't the end of the world. I saw a lot of heads drooping in the Rays' dugout after the game, but you have to realize that they still have the White Sox on the brink of elimination!
2) Andy Sonnanstine will come up big.
Okay, so maybe I'm a betting man. I'm not betting on this game, but I really think Sonnanstine will come out with the victory at The Cell. He faces Gavin Floyd, a talented rookie, but Sonnanstine throws off hitters with his unorthodox delivery. I see the Rays winning this one.
3) Finding clutch hits will be important.
Clearly, today wasn't a huge "clutch" day for the Rays. They were awful with RISP, and they will need to improve on that to win in Game Four. Look for the experience of Cliff Floyd to bleed through and spark this team with a late-inning double to drive the victory train.