The Rays took on the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series tonight in the winner take all game where the winner would claim the American League Pennant. The Trop was rocking for the biggest game in franchise history. Matt Garza took on Jon Lester with a trip to the World Series on the line.
Coco Crisp looked to take advantage of the defensive flaws in Matt Garza with a bunt right at Garza to start the game, but Garza delivered a bullet to Carlos Pena at first to get off to a good start. Dustin Pedroia sent a liner into the second row on a high fastball to put the Rays down 1-0. Garza followed with a walk to David Ortiz. Rocco Baldelli made a great running catch in right field to deny extra bases from Kevin Youkilis. Garza ended the threat by striking out J.D. Drew.
The Rays went 9 up and 9 down the first time through the order as Jon Lester was cruising, but Akironi Iwamura led off the fourth with a line drive to left field to single for the Rays first hit in the last seven innings against the Red Sox. B.J. Upton followed with the Rays fifth strike out of the game. Carlos Pena hit a grounder to Pedroia who got Iwamura out at second base on a very close play for out number two. Evan Longoria took a half swing, but hit the ball with some authority down the right field line. Pena hustled all the way around from first to barely beat the relay throw as the throw was up the line a couple feet. The Rays tied the game at one. Carl Crawford struck out to end the fourth.
Willy Aybar led off the fifth with a double that almost cleared the short wall in left field. Dioner Navarro hit a grounder to deep short and was unable to move Aybar to third, but did wind up on first to put runners on first and second with zero outs for Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli singled to left field on a grounder that found is way between third and short and Aybar made it home safely to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.
With one out in the seventh inning Garza faced a difficult spot after he walked J.D. Drew on four pitches and then allowed his first hit since the Pedroia homer in the first to put runners on first and second with one out after the single by Jason Bay. Garza was effectively wild as he did walk three and hit one between hits. Garza allowed a medium depth flyball from Mark Kotsay's bat, but Drew advanced to third with two outs. Garza didn't break as he struck out Jason Varitek to end the threat.
Willy Aybar led off the seventh inning with a homer to deep left field to give the Rays a much needed insurance lead and extend the lead to 3-1.
Alex Cora started off the inning with a routine ground ball to shortstop that ate up Jason Bartlett as Cora reached first on the error. The Rays would turn to the bullpen after a very good 7 innings by Matt Garza. Garza allowed two hits, walked three, hit one, and struck out nine.
Dan Wheeler entered the game to face Coco Crisp and allowed a single to right field to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Pedroia hit a weak fly ball to left field for the first out and leave the runners in place.
J.P. Howell entered to face David Ortiz and induced a weak grounder to Iwamura. Iwamura fired to Bartlett to get the tying run out at second, but was unable to turn two as the grounder was hit too softly. Crisp didn't go for the bag and tried to break up a double play that was never going to happen and is likely the reason he wasn't called safe.
Chad Bradford replaces Wheeler to face Kevin Youkilis and walked him to load the bases with two outs.
Number one pick from last year's draft, David Price, entered the game to try to preserve the two run lead with the bases loaded and J.D. Drew at the plate. Price struck out Drew a check swing that he wasn't able to hold up on to preserve the two run lead.
Jason Bay led off the ninth working a walk after looking to swing at a 2-2 pitch, but the umpire didn't agree. Mark Kotsay followed with a strikeout for the first out. Price followed with another strikeout of Jason Varitek on a beautiful slider. Jed Lowrie stepped into the box to pinch hit for Alex Cora. Cora hit a ground ball to Iwamura at second that took a high hop, but he was able to bring it in and beat Bay to the second base bag and clinch the win for the Rays.
The Rays win the AL Pennant and are headed to the World Series to face the Philadelphia Phillies!
F@#%, it is 2016 and the Rays have lost 11 games in a row.
After looking at the starting lineup put out by the Rays today I had very little confidence in a Rays victory and decided to watch both the 2008 ALCS Game 7 and tonight's game and was going to only recap the ALCS game. It felt very appropriate with the Rays in a funk and the Red Sox heading into the Trop.
I didn't let he Rays suck me in and stuck to the process as the Rays offense went off in the first as all nine batters went to the plate.
Logan Forsythe: Single to left field.
Tim Beckham: Weak fly ball to right field. One out.
Evan Longoria: Single to left field. Forsythe moved to third and Longoria advanced to second when the ball got by the third baseman.
Logan Morrison: Single to right field. Two runs scored.
Desmond Jennings: Infield fly ball to first base. Two outs.
Oswaldo Arcia: Infield single to second base. Morrison moved to third as nobody was covering for Boston.
Taylor Motter: Doubled to left field. Morrison scored and Arcia moved up to third.
Nick Franklin: Doubled on a line drive down the right field line. Arcia and Motter scored.
Curt Casali: Struck out swinging.
The Rays put up a five spot, but I've seen big first innings not lead to a win in almost two weeks. In the third inning the Rays put up four more as Jennings led off with a solo homerun. Arcia followed with a double to left field. Franklin singled against a drawn in infield on a grounder up the middle. Forsythe would cap the scoring with a two run shot that was absolutely demolished. The homer went an estimated 432 feet to deep left field. The Rays led 9-0.
The Rays tacked on another run in the fifth after Motter led off the inning on an infield single and moved to second when Tommy Layne air mailed a throw into right field. Forsythe just missed his second homer of the game, but doubled off the wall in the left center field gap and scored Motter from second. Rays led 10-3.
In the seventh inning the Rays would add on two more after Motter led off the inning off Koji Uehara. Nick Franklin was able to keep a fly ball fair as he hit a hanging split finger changeup out of the park for a two run homerun. Rays led 12-4.
In the eighth inning Craig Kimbrel entered a 12-6 game to get some work in. Longoria hit a groundball that was deflected by third baseman Marco Hernandez that was ruled a single. Morrison and Jennings followed with strike outs. Arcia singled on a line drive to right field for his third hit of the game. Motter legged out an infield single that scored Longoria to extend the lead to 13-6.
Blake Snell was solid early in the game, but started to lose command after the fourth. He allowed two runs in the fourth after he allowed a two run double to Bryce Brentz, but Brentz bailed the Rays out as he ran into the third out as he was thrown out at third by a mile. In the fifth he allowed one run when he walked David Ortiz with the bases loaded, but avoided more damage. In the sixth he failed to cover first base in a timely manner for the second time on a ground ball to Morrison that scored the Red Sox fourth run of the game.
Ryan Garton came on to end the sixth as he got Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia to fly out to Arcia in right field.
In the eighth inning, Danny Farquhar's second inning of work, he allowed a double to Bryce and a two run homer to Sandy Leon to make the score 12-6. Farquhar ended the inning with two fly balls to center by Marco Heranndez and Mookie Betts.
Xavier Cedeno was called upon to close out the seven run lead in the top of the ninth for the Rays as they looked to win their first game in twelve attempts. Mike Miller, I didn't even know that there was a player by that name playing for Boston, grounded out to short. Xander Bogaerts singled on a groundball against the shift that Logan Forsythe wasn't able to make a play on. Christian Vasquez followed with a single up the middle to put runners at first and third with one out. Travis shaw hit a sacrifice fly for the second out and bring the game within six. Cedeno struck out Jackie Bradley, Jr. to end the game and stop the skid at eleven.
Logan Forsythe: 3/5, 2B, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBI
Evan Longoria: 3/5, 2 runs
Logan Morrison: 2/5, 1 run, 2 RBI
Desmond Jennings: 1/4, HR, 1 run, 1 RBI, BB
Oswaldo Arcia: 3/5, 2B, 2 runs
Taylor Motter: 3/4, 2B, 3 runs, 2 RBI, BB
Nick Franklin: 3/5, 2B, HR, 1 run, 5 RBI