Game 8 of the ALCS
Sorry, I couldn’t resist that headline. I’ll never forget the image of Manny Ramirez parading around the home clubhouse at City of Palms Park in March of 2004, when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees again for the first time since the heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of 2003.
“It’s Game 8,” Ramirez howled over and over again.
So here we were today in Port Charlotte for Game 8 of Sox-Rays, coming off that epic ALCS of a year ago.
In actuality, it was a game that meant absolutely nothing, and that was fortunate for the Red Sox in a game they lost 12-4.
But in reality, the matchup gives us reminders of the great series of a year ago, and also the reality that these two teams will be staring each other in the eye again all year.
This was my first trip to Port Charlotte in seven or eight years, back when the Rangers used to train here. They’ve done a great job sprucing up the place. It used to be, um, not so nice.
The Red Sox had a representative traveling squad today, which will hardly be the case next week after four-ninths of the starting nine goes to the World Baseball Classic.
Ellsbury, Lowrie, Bay and Bladelli all made the trip.
Highly-regarded prospect Michael Bowden had a tough one, giving up five hits and four runs over 1 2/3 innings. Jason Bay had the toughest day of all, chasing down flyballs he couldn’t see all day in a treacherous sun field. And just for good measure, Bay was plunked in the elbow in his final at-bat. He was fine. And also happy to get out of Port Charlotte.
Saturday, there will be a doubleheader at City of Palms. Seven innings against Northeastern, and then nine big ones against the Reds. Until then …