AL East showdown under the roof
All the years I’ve come here, and I never tried to imagine what it would be like to cover a September series at Tropicana Field that mattered. And here we are.
This used to be where we’d come to unwind after a stressful, crowded, intense series somewhere else.
And just as I was in the middle of typing, Big Papi just left the yard. A three-run blast off Kazmir, and just like that, Dice-K has himself a three-spot to work with. Make that a four-spot as Mike Lowell also puts one out. The Rays can’t feel good about Kazmir opening the game with eight straight balls, which obviously left him in the mode of, “OK, I need to get the ball over the plate and take my chances”. He did take his chances, and Ortiz and Lowell took him over the wall.
Speaking of Lowell, he told his former ghost writer Rob Bradford — and the current beatwriter for WEEI.com — that he has a slight tear of the labrum in his right hip. I didn’t even know the hip had a labrum. Also, if Lowell can take the likes of Kazmir deep, Sox fans should feel pretty good bout the chances he can salvage his way through the rest of 2008.
At any rate, there is quite a media following for this series. The press box has three packed rows. Faces in the crowd: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com; Hal Bodley of MLB.com; Scott Miller of CBS Sports (seat there for him, but he’s yet to arrive); the aforementioned Bradford; Joltin Joe Haggerty of Comcast Sportsnet, the Woburn Times, NECN, CN8 and Boston Metro. Oh, and WEEI. Is there anyone he doesn’t take a paycheck from? Make sure to check out the underrated Hacks with Haggs blog when you get a chance. That’s http://www.hackswithhaggs.com in your game program.
Tito’s take on the Rays and this series, before the game was pretty good:
“I don’t think, because we’ve been here before, we should
downplay what we’re going through the the next couple of weeks. This is exciting.
This is great,” Francona said. “The Rays are certainly the story of the year and I understand
that. If it wasn’t for us, I would be a fan of them. I’m not. we really want to
win. I’d hate to be walking around here like, oh, we’re the team that’s been
here. We need to match the energy, if not exceed their energy. These are big
games for us. I don’t see why they’re any bigger for them than they are for
Look for Jonathan Papelbon to sit this one out after pitching the last two days.