Tampa Bay Rays: An October To Remember

Kyle FlanaganCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2008

After watching the Rays completely handle the Red Sox again in Game Four, all I could say was “wow.”

We all knew the Rays were good, but did anyone know that they were this good?

Did anyone think that Tampa Bay would take the first two games at the hallowed grounds of Fenway by a combined score of 22-5?

Did anyone really think that the Red Sox would be facing elimination in Game Five of an ALCS against Tampa freaking Bay?

I didn’t think you did.

Who knew that Willy Aybar, a guy who didn’t even play a game in the big leagues last season, would  be hitting .500 (6-for-12) in the ALCS, including a long ball and five RBI?

Who thought that Carl Crawford would go 5-for-5 in Game Four, with two RBI and three runs scored?  Who figured that Andy Sonnanstine would shut down a Red Sox lineup by going seven-and-one-third innings and allowing only three earned runs?

Oh yeah, Sonnanstine is one of only two pitchers to pick up multiple wins this postseason—Cole Hamels of Philadelphia being the other with a Game Five win over the Dodgers last night.

Did anyone think Red Sox ace John Lester would give up five runs in five innings of work in Game Three?

Could you have possibly thought that David “Big Floppi” Ortiz would be hitting under the Mendoza line for the playoffs (.161), including a dismal 1-for-14 (.071) in the ALCS?

Anyone else out there surprised by Red Sox captain and leader Jason Varitek’s offensive performance?

In fact, the only person performing worse from the plate than “Big Floppi” is El Capitan, Varitek. The catcher is hitting a gloomy .125 (3-for-24) in the 2008 postseason and has yet to record a hit in the ALCS.

Who would have thought that the Rays could overcome weak Game One offense, in which they scored zero runs, and then promptly rattle off 31 runs in the next three games? Who knew that James Shields, Tampa’s ace on the bump, was going to get no offensive support in Game One and take the loss?

Show me a person who thought that Boston would be facing a second consecutive 3-1 deficit in the ALCS and I will show you a liar. Show me someone who figured that playoff experienced Josh Beckett was going to last only four-and-a-third innings in Game Two and surrender eight runs and I will show you a fabricator.

Who thought Jacoby Ellsbury, the pride of the Red Sox farm system and consistent offensive contributor in the Division Series and last year’s playoffs, would be told to find a place on the pine in Game Four because of his 0-for-14 ALCS?

October is a month that ushers in colder weather in most states. It is a month that kicks off the changing of the color of the leaves. October gives us the first opportunities to see our breath when we exhale.

And October of 2008 has given us the unthinkable.