The Conference Championships are over, and the matchup for the 2009 Superbowl is set. The Arizona Cardinals capitalized on Philadelphia’s mistakes to win the NFC Championship 32-25. Behind the stellar defensive play of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers contained Ravens’ rookie QB Joe Flacco. The Steelers’ 23-14 win puts them in the Super Bowl for the second time in 4 years. This is the first Super Bowl appearance, and second Championship game (the Chicago Cards won the 1947 meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles).
The 2009 Super Bowl will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on February 1st, 2009. Super Bowl Tickets are available now!
The 2008 Tampa Bay Rays went from worst to first in the NL East, and beat the defending Champion Red Sox to make it in to the World Series. The Rays will try to follow it up with another great season. Some tickets are available now, and more will be as the season draws closer.
4/6/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
4/8/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
4/9/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
4/10/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
4/11/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
4/12/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
4/13/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/14/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/15/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/16/2009 – White Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/17/2009 – White Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/18/2009 – White Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/19/2009 – White Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
4/21/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
4/22/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
4/23/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
4/24/2009 – Rays at Athletics – McAfee Coliseum
4/25/2009 – Rays at Athletics – McAfee Coliseum
4/26/2009 – Rays at Athletics – McAfee Coliseum
4/27/2009 – Rays at Twins – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
4/28/2009 – Rays at Twins – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
4/29/2009 – Rays at Twins – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
4/30/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/1/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/2/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/3/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/4/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/5/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/6/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
5/7/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
5/8/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
5/9/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
5/10/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
5/12/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
5/13/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
5/14/2009 – Indians at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/15/2009 – Indians at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/16/2009 – Indians at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/17/2009 – Indians at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/18/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/19/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/20/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/21/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/22/2009 – Rays at Marlins – Dolphin Stadium
5/23/2009 – Rays at Marlins – Dolphin Stadium
5/24/2009 – Rays at Marlins – Dolphin Stadium
5/25/2009 – Rays at Indians – Progressive Field
5/26/2009 – Rays at Indians – Progressive Field
5/27/2009 – Rays at Indians – Progressive Field
5/28/2009 – Rays at Indians – Progressive Field
5/29/2009 – Twins at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/30/2009 – Twins at Rays – Tropicana Field
5/31/2009 – Twins at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/2/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/3/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/4/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/5/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
6/6/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
6/7/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
6/8/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
6/9/2009 – Angels at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/10/2009 – Angels at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/11/2009 – Angels at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/12/2009 – Nationals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/13/2009 – Nationals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/14/2009 – Nationals at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/16/2009 – Rays at Rockies – Coors Field
6/17/2009 – Rays at Rockies – Coors Field
6/18/2009 – Rays at Rockies – Coors Field
6/19/2009 – Rays at Mets – Shea Stadium
6/20/2009 – Rays at Mets – Shea Stadium
6/21/2009 – Rays at Mets – Shea Stadium
6/23/2009 – Phillies at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/24/2009 – Phillies at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/25/2009 – Phillies at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/26/2009 – Marlins at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/27/2009 – Marlins at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/28/2009 – Marlins at Rays – Tropicana Field
6/29/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
6/30/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
7/1/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
7/3/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
7/4/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
7/5/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
7/7/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/8/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/9/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/10/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/11/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/12/2009 – Athletics at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/14/2009 – AL All-Stars at NL All-Stars – Busch Stadium
7/17/2009 – Rays at Royals – Kauffman Stadium
7/18/2009 – Rays at Royals – Kauffman Stadium
7/19/2009 – Rays at Royals – Kauffman Stadium
7/20/2009 – Rays at White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field
7/21/2009 – Rays at White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field
7/22/2009 – Rays at White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field
7/23/2009 – Rays at White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field
7/24/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
7/25/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
7/26/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
7/27/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/28/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/29/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
7/31/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/1/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/2/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/3/2009 – Royals at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/4/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/5/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/7/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
8/8/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
8/9/2009 – Rays at Mariners – Safeco Field
8/10/2009 – Rays at Angels – Angel Stadium of Anaheim
8/11/2009 – Rays at Angels – Angel Stadium of Anaheim
8/12/2009 – Rays at Angels – Angel Stadium of Anaheim
8/14/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/15/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/16/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/18/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/19/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/20/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/21/2009 – Rangers at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/22/2009 – Rangers at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/23/2009 – Rangers at Rays – Tropicana Field
8/24/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
8/25/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
8/26/2009 – Rays at Blue Jays – Rogers Centre
8/28/2009 – Rays at Tigers – Comerica Park
8/29/2009 – Rays at Tigers – Comerica Park
8/30/2009 – Rays at Tigers – Comerica Park
8/31/2009 – Rays at Tigers – Comerica Park
9/1/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/2/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/3/2009 – Red Sox at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/4/2009 – Tigers at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/5/2009 – Tigers at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/6/2009 – Tigers at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/7/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
9/8/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
9/9/2009 – Rays at Yankees – Yankee Stadium
9/11/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
9/12/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
9/13/2009 – Rays at Red Sox – Fenway Park
9/14/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
9/15/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
9/16/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
9/17/2009 – Rays at Orioles – Oriole Park at Camden Yards
9/18/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/19/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/20/2009 – Blue Jays at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/22/2009 – Mariners at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/23/2009 – Mariners at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/25/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
9/26/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
9/27/2009 – Rays at Rangers – Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
9/28/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/29/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
9/30/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
10/1/2009 – Orioles at Rays – Tropicana Field
10/2/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
10/3/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
10/4/2009 – Yankees at Rays – Tropicana Field
Until 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays had never won more than 70 games in a single season. Now they are matched up against the Red Sox to decide which team will represent the American League in the World Series. Though the Sox have an all time record of 111-58 against the Rays, Tampa had the edge in the series this year. The Rays won the season series 10-8, and were 6-0 in one run games.
It’s also worth noting that the Angels’ 8-1 record against the Red Sox in the regular season did not seem to have much effect on their ALDS matchup.
The rivalry between the Sox and Rays is coming to a head. The teams have cleared the benches six times in the past eight years, including the altercation earlier this year between Coco Crisp and James Shields. That incident resulted in eight suspensions, and a tense, highly competitive atmosphere in the matchups to follow.
“We had the one incident this year. That to me also is ancient history,” Rays skipper Joe Maddon told Yahoo! Sports writer Brett Huston. “The rivalry is being built because we’re good. This year truly is building into a legitimate rivalry, whereas in the past I think it was more fabricated.”
2008 ALCS Schedule
Game 1 – Friday, October 10th 8:37pm @ Tampa Bay
Game 2 – Saturday, October 11th 8:07pm @ Tampa Bay
Game 3 – Monday, October 13th 822:pm @ Boston
Game 4 – Tuesday, October 14th 8:22pm @ Boston
Game 5 – Thursday, October 16th 8:22pm @ Boston
Game 6 – Saturday, October 18th 8:22pm @ Tampa Bay
Game 7 – Sunday, October 19th 8:22pm @ Tampa Bay
Game 1 – James Shields vs Daisuke Matsuzaka
Game 2 – Scott Kazmir vs Josh Beckett
Game 3 – John Lester vs Matt Garza
Game 4 – Tim Wakefield vs Andy Sonnanstine
Game 5 – Daisuke Matsuzaka vs James Shields
Game 6 – Scott Kazmir vs James Shields
Game 7 – Matt Garza vs John Lester
Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox playoff tickets are available now!
David Ortiz’s production on the year is down, in part due to a nagging injury he is playing through. However, he has been heating up as the season draws to a close. In the series against the Rays, Ortiz was 4 for 12 with three homers and seven runs batted in. He provided all of the Sox offense in the final game, and nearly half in the first. With Mike Lowell’s role in the postseason looking more like a question mark, Ortiz’s production is becoming more important for October.
His two homers and three RBI’s on Wednesday were not enough to overcome Time Wakefield’s tough outing. Wake only managed to last an inning and a third, giving up 6 runs on 6 hits (including three homers). Boston’s bullpen got quite a workout, but only surrendered two runs (both charged to David Pauley) in 6 2/3 innings.
The Rays took the season series from the Sox, winning 10 out of 18 contests. Boston hasn’t won a series against the Rays since sweeping them at Fenway in early June. The Sox are currently two games back in the AL East, but have a comfortable seven game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card.
After a off day, the Sox travel to Toronto for three games. Then they come home for the remainder of their regular season – 4 against Cleveland, 3 games against the Yankees. The Rays host the Minnesota Twins for four games before going on the road to wrap up their season. They travel to Baltimore for 4 games in three days before heading to Detroit for three to close it out.
For the first time in seven games at Tropicana Field, the Boston Red Sox came out victorious. The Sox scored early and often, roughing up Rays starter Scott Kazmir for 9 runs in 3+ innings.
Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka’s short and relatively sweet outing consisted of 5 innings pitched; 3 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts. The only blemishes on his night were an Akinori Iwamura homer and tossing 101 pitches to 21 different batters through just five innings.
Sox call-up Chris Smith relieved Matsuzaka, and did not fare well. Smith gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in just 2 innings, but managed to get out of the seventh inning without surrendering any more. Mike Timlin and David Pauley threw uneventful 8th and 9th innings to put the Sox back up at the top of the AL East Standings (albeit tied with Tampa Bay).
David Ortiz’s first inning homer got Boston’s offense started. Two batters later Mike Lowell homered as well to extend the Sox’ early lead. With the team’s bats recently cooling off a bit, the Sox offense has gotten a boost from the production of Ortiz and Lowell- both playing through nagging injuries.
Jason Bay continued his success in a Boston uniform, leading off the fourth inning with a solo homer. With Jed Lowrie on, Jason Varitek hit a line drive shot to left; continuing his recent hot streak. Pedroia and Ortiz each drove in a run, and Ortiz hit a second shot to put the Sox up 11-1. Ellsbury hit a two out solo shot in the 5th and Youkilis drove in Chris Carter on a double in the 6th to end Boston’s offensive onslaught.
Tonight Josh Beckett (12-9, 4.10)is matched up against Andy Sonnanstine (13-7 4.47) to decide sole possesion of first place in the American League East.
The hits just keep on coming, unfortunately just not for the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays finished off a three-game sweep over the reigning World Series Champions with a 7-6 victory Wednesday night at Tropicana Field and in doing so increased their AL East lead to 3 ½ games over the struggling Sox.
“It’s a really good feeling. I can’t tell you that I expected it—I’d be lying—but right now we do expect to win on a nightly basis,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Rays improved the best record in baseball to 20 games over .500 at 52-32.
Rookie Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 while driving in three runs to lead the way for the Rays in their second series sweep of the season over Boston on their home field. Longoria connected on an RBI single in the first inning off of Red Sox starter Dice-K Matsuzaka and then delivered the big blow in the seventh inning when he smacked a two-RBI double to left-center field off of reliever Craig Hansen to put the Rays on top 5-4 at the time.
The Sox were unable to hold on to a three run lead which they had built up over five innings off of Rays starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. A Dustin Pedroia homerun in the first inning put the Sox up early 1-0 but Longoria tied things up in the bottom half of the first with his RBI single. Manny Ramirez would put the Sox back up 2-1 with an RBI groundout in the third inning which scored Pedroia who had tripled earlier in the frame.
Boston tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning on a J.D. Drew triple that scored Pedroia. Drew then scored on a Kazmir wild pitch to give the Sox a 4-1 lead.
After Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless sixth inning, Manny Delcarmen came on to work the seventh inning and that’s when things went south for Boston. Delcarmen was not able to retire any batter that he faced, allowing three hits in a row to Josh Barlett, Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford.
Sox manager Terry Francona had seen enough and summoned Craig Hansen from the pen to try and get out of the bases loaded jam. Only problem with this move was that Hansen’s performance was as equally as pathetic as Delcarmen’s. Hansen would also not retire any batter he faced, walking two and allowing the two-RBI double to Longoria that gave the Rays the lead for good.
“We missed a lot of opportunities to spread the game out,” Francona said. “But still saying that, we had a lead … they got to Delcarmen, and things unraveled in a hurry.”
Once again, the Sox were able to score two runs late in the game to cut the Rays lead to one but were unable to tie the score before the game’s final out.
“It reaffirms to us that we can play against these guys and we can beat the Red Sox,” Maddon said. “Now we have to prove that we can beat them in Fenway Park also.”
He’s right. The Rays are 6-0 against Boston this season at Tropicana Field and 0-6 against them at Fenway Park. The teams will not meet again until a three game series at Fenway in early September, followed by another three game set in Tampa Bay the following week.
One positive note for the Sox was the performance by 2B Dustin Pedroia. On the game Pedroia went 4-for-5 with a home run, triple and two doubles. He had two RBI’s and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Over the course of the streak he is 25-44 for a .568 batting average with three homers. Even with the great numbers, the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year is not happy with the result in the series sweep.
“This series, they played better than us. They pitched better than us. They hit in the clutch better than us,” Pedroia said. “That’s why we didn’t win any games.”
Things will not get any easier for Boston as they now travel to New York for four games against their arch rivals. The Yankees are not exactly playing great baseball but always elevate their level of play for this match up.
In tonight’s match up, two lefties will take the mound in a battle of the southpaws. Jon Lester will toss for the Sox while Andy Pettitte will chuck for the Yanks.
Here are the other pitching match ups for the remainder of the series:
Fri, Jul 4 1:05 pm EDT J. Beckett vs. D. Rasner
Sat, Jul 5 3:55 pm EDT J. Masterson vs. M. Mussina
Sun, Jul 6 8:05 pm EDT T. Wakefield vs. J. Chamberlain
For a long time, ‘the Tampa Bay Rays win’ was a phrase that you expected to only hear 60 maybe 70 times a year. Well, the Tampa Bay Rays won again last night beating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 and are on a pace to win a franchise record 100 games. The team that for so long was MLB’s runts of the litter have proven night in and out that they’re ready to play and win against anyone.
Matt Garza tossed seven solid innings and was able to out-pitch the Tampa Bay killer, Tim Wakefield. Going into the game, Wakefield had been 19-3 lifetime against Tampa Bay and 9-1 at Tropicana Field. None of this mattered to Garza who allowed only five hits and an unearned run in his second dominant outing in a row. The win improves his season record to 7-4 and lowers his ERA to 3.47 on the year.
“These guys aren’t like they used to be,” Wakefield said. “They’re pretty good over there.”
The Rays have now won seven of their last eight games and hold the best record in all of baseball at 51-32. They continue to play solid baseball and prove the critics wrong that they will be a competitor down the stretch run of the season.
“It’s still a long road, and we have to take it day to day,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays took advantage of a few Wakefield wild pitches to plate two of their runs. In the first inning, Carl Crawford scampered home after a wild pitch and then late in the fourth inning Evan Longoria was able to advance from first to second on another wild pitch to move into scoring position. The very next batter, Dioner Navarro, looped and RBI single to right field to drive in Longoria. Navarro would add some insurance in the eighth inning, driving in his second run of the game to cap the scoring off at 3-1.
With the win, the Rays are now 2 ½ games ahead of the Sox in the AL East, the largest deficit for Boston since they trailed by three games on April 9th.
“I don’t really care to talk about who we’re missing. We showed up to win and they outplayed us,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That’s what matters to us. … Regardless of who you have out there, you either win or you don’t.”
Francona could be hinting at the absence of Sox slugger David Ortiz from the lineup who has been sidelined now for over a month with a wrist injury. Regardless of Ortiz not being in the lineup, the Sox need to find a way to win close games. They’ve lost four straight now by a total of only five runs.
Their lone run yesterday came on a J.D. Drew sacrifice fly in the 4th inning, but other then that their bats were held in check most of the night by Garza and the bullpen work of J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour in the eight and ninth innings.
“We go out there against Boston fully expecting to win,” Balfour said. “We’re not shocked to win a ball game. It’s really no surprise to us.”
Boston will try to avoid the series sweep for the second time this season in Tampa Bay by sending Dice-K Matsuzaka to the mound to take on Rays ace Scott Kazmir. Matsuzaka is currently 9-1 with a 3.21 ERA on the season while Kazmir’s numbers are also very good at 7-3 on the year with a 2.28 ERA. Matsuzaka has not faced the Rays yet this season while Kazmir will be trying to avenge a loss on his first start of the season back on May 4th.
Following the game, the Sox will head to New York to take on the Yankees in a four game series over the weekend.
The Boston Red Sox did all that they could to try and pull out a victory Monday night, but the Tampa Bay Rays were able to hang on and capture a 5-4 victory in the first game of three in a series which features the top two teams in the AL East.
Tampa led the game 5-2 entering the 9th inning and sent out closer Troy Percival to try and finish the Sox off. Percival was able to strike out Manny Ramirez for the first out of the inning but then allowed three consecutive hits. Mike Lowell doubled to get things started. Kevin Youkilis then singled to put runners at the corners with only one out. Up next, Brandon Moss doubled to deep right, scoring Lowell and moving Youkilis up to third.
Jason Varitek just got under a Percival change up but the fly ball was deep enough to drive in Youkilis from third on a sacrifice fly. With the score now at 5-4, Rays manager Joe Madden had seen enough from his closer and called for J.P. Howell from the bullpen to record the final out. Madden and Percival exchanged words as the closer was not happy to be replaced in the middle of the inning.
“Percy was very upset, and I knew he was going to be very upset. He and I go way back, and everything’s going to be fine between he and I,” Maddon said. “He’s been (closing games) for years and I know he wants to be the last man standing, but I have to do what I believe is right at that particular moment.”
Howell came on to face Julio Lugo who was able to stretch the count full only to line out to short ending the game and the Boston rally.
“This is an intense series,” Lowell said. “I know there’s a little history, but I think both teams played good baseball.”
The history Lowell’s referring to goes back to the two team’s last series at Fenway Park when Coco Crisp charged the mound after being plunked by Jamie Shields. Shields, who started last night’s game and picked up the victory, was suspended six games for his actions that resulted in a benches clearing brawl.
“I knew from both sides nothing was going to happen. It was over,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re professionals, they’re professionals, and all that business is in the past.”
The Rays were able to jump on the board early scoring a run in the first inning on a solo home run by B.J. Upton off of Sox rookie pitcher Justin Masterson. The home run was Upton’s 6th on the season.
A Lowell single in the 4th drove in Dustin Pedroia to even the score at 1-1. Lowell finished the game with three hits.
Tampa Bay came right back in the bottom half of the inning scoring twice on a Gabe Gross two-run homer that gave the Rays a 3-1 advantage. This was the third game Masterson has allowed multiple home runs in this season.
The Rays would tack on another run in the 5th on a Carlos Pena double to put them ahead 4-1.
J.D. Drew continues to hit well for the Sox and belted his 16th home run on the season in the 6th inning to pull Boston a little closer at a score of 4-2.
Masterson was pulled after six innings and relieved by another rookie, relief pitcher Chris Smith. Smith did not last very long after facing some control issues. He would walk the bases loaded and be yanked from the game by Sox manager Terry Francona in favor for Javier Lopez. Lopez was able to get out of the bases loaded jam but did allow for one of the inherited runners to score. The run would be the eventual game winner.
“It’s no fluke. They’re a talented group,” Lowell said. “I think a lot of times when you have a lot of young guys, you don’t know how they measure up. There’s no track record. But I think the talent is there. You’ve got to respect that.”
With the win, the Rays now sit atop the AL East with a 1 ½ games lead over Boston and the best record in all of MLB.
Tonight, the Sox send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the hill to try and stop the bleeding. Wakefield has enjoyed great success throughout his career against the Rays, especially while pitching in Tampa. In 29 career starts, Wakefield boasts a 19-3 record with a 3.16 ERA against the divisional foes.
For Tampa Bay, Matt Garza will take the ball and try to stop Wakefield and the Sox. In his last outing, Garza was nearly perfect allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk in his complete game victory against the Florida Marlins. He recorded 10 strike outs in the performance.
“That’s the best pitching performance I’ve ever caught,” Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans said of the effort by Garza, who allowed only a Hanley Ramirez homer during his first career complete game.
First pitch tonight is at 7:10pm EST.
Recap – The days from 2004 when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup Championship are long gone, and currently the team is struggling to find an identity. Only 5 members of the active 29 on the roster skated in the Lightning’s championship victory four short years ago. The team is young, and the ownership is content with developing them as a unit. Center Vincent Lecavalier had a stellar first half netting 30 goals and 36 assist. These numbers were good enough to earn him 2008 Eastern Conference captain honors at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game.
2nd Half – The Lightning looked much better at home then on the road in the first half of the season, unfortunately for them, they play more road games during the 2nd half where they struggled and lost a conference high of 14 games. Look for Lecavalier to continue to have great numbers, too bad the team will not finish well and he will not be considered as the league MVP for that reason.
Team Name: Tampa Bay Lightning (20-24-5)
Southeast Division Standing: 5th place
Conference Standing: 15th place
Final Predictions: 4th in Southeast Division, 14th in Eastern Conference
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