MLB Championship Series Day Six: Tampa Bay Busting Through at Fenway
The greatest part of the postseason is what you witnessed in yesterday's Day Five primer. I picked both the Dodgers and Red Sox, based largely upon Derek Lowe and Jon Lester.
Expect the unexpected when it comes to the postseason.
Jon Lester gets pummeled, Lowe yanked early, sort of surprisingly, and the Dodgers brilliant bullpen is finally foiled in a big way.
Matt Stairs? Wait wasn't he on the Blue Jays?
Yes, he was, and now the little talked about move of grabbing Stairs late in the season has paid off big dividends for the Phillies. Stairs greeted Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton with a rather rude welcoming in the eighth inning.
Are you kidding me?
We also have a guy in Shane Victorino who as early as a few months ago was involved in trade rumors. Now it seems as if every game the Phillies win, he is in the center of it all with a big hit.
On the other side of baseball we have the improbable Rays knocking around Jon Lester at a place he never gets knocked around at. Lester had won his last ten decisions at Fenway and he hasn't given up more than four runs there in more than three starts.
Last night, he got hit and he got hit hard.
It's the increasing unpredictability that makes the MLB postseason great. Every year we get a hero from the most unlikely of places. Neither series is over though, so there is still a few more chances for heroes to be born.
ALCS Game Four: Tampa Bay (Sonnanstine) @ Boston (Wakefield)
Tim Wakefield will look to calm the Boston pitching staff down. Despite tossing the shutout in the first game, the Red Sox have let up 18 runs in the past two.
Wakefield will either buck or continue the trend. We all know the knuckleball will either be on or miserably off and there is no telling what it will be like in Fenway tonight.
Opposing him is Andy Sonnanstine who is a complete turnaround from last night's starter, Matt Garza.
Sonnanstine will look to slow things down and the way things have gone for Boston this year, the results from last night may carry over. Tampa's right hander has been absolutely brilliant in his two starts against the Red Sox this year.
In 13 innings, he's allowed seven hits, two walks, no earned runs, and he's struck out 12 hitters. He received two no-decisions for his efforts, but as it stands right now, Sonnanstine has the Sox's number.
Offensively, I'm going to be interested to see Kevin Cash at the bottom of Boston's lineup. In his 24 postseason at bats, Jason Varitek has just three hits and five strikeouts, including a 0-10 ALCS where four of those strikeouts have come.
Certainly anything Cash can do will be a bonus. The likes of Jacoby Ellsbury need to get the ball rolling as well. Ellsbury has had 14 at bats and has not gotten a single hit or a walk in these past three games. His struggles atop the lineup are killing his team's offense.
I wouldn't panic if I were a Red Sox fan at this point. Designated Hitter David Ortiz is struggling as well, but at any point he and anyone else in this lineup can break out and turn this series around.
I'm not sure what conventional wisdom is at this point, so I don't know if I'm going against it. But I think the Red Sox are way too experienced to let this thing get out of hand.
Boston wins tonight to make it a series once again, or else they could be staring defeat dead in the face. This isn't last year when they had the final two games of the series at home. They have to go back to Tampa and win both games if they don't win in Boston.
Not a position they want to be in and I'd expect them to get the job done tonight.
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