Rays stop Red Sox comeback

Peter Withey
October 29, 2008

It took a while, but the Tampa Bay Rays are no longer a baseball joke.

10 years after the expansion franchise moved into Tropicana Field, the stadium meant for the San Francisco Giants so long ago, the Rays clinched the A.L. East, and did a little more: they got to the World Series.

With a 3-1 win Sunday, Oct. 19, over the Boston Red Sox in game seven of the American League Championship Series, the Rays will advance to the big dance, matching up against the Philadelphia Phillies for baseball’s crown.

The Red Sox nearly made another one of their patented postseason comebacks from two or three games down as they did in 2004 against the New York Yankees and in 2007 against the Cleveland Indians. Both times they won the World Series. They made a comeback in 1986, but a man named Bill Buckner let that slip between his feet in the ninth inning of game 6 of that year’s World Series against the New York Mets.

This year’s championship match-up will feature two young teams with a mix of veterans and youth alike that provide strengths on both sides of the ball.

For the Rays to win the World Series, they’re going to need strong showings from their starting pitching staff to keep the Phillies offense grounded.
They’ll also need their entire line-up to contribute as they did in the ALCS. Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton need to be swinging the bats as they have the entire postseason.

For the Phillies to win the World Series, the word for the Phillies is more production than the Rays. Their starting pitching staff has a 3.19 earned run average in the playoffs so far compared to Tampa’s 3.52, according to Yahoo Sports. Both of their Walk/Hits per innings pitched matched up at 1.32. The Phillies played “Manny-powered” Los Angeles however, and the Rays played Boston’s high-powered offense loaded with threats.

The big “if” factors for the Phillies in the batter’s box are Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and Jimmy Rollins. If Rollins can get his bat going and get on base often, that should open up opportunities for Howard and Burrell to drive runs in. As long as Howard doesn’t swing over curveballs and gets in front of fastballs, Philadelphia should be fine.

In the end it’s going to come down who can outscore who, and which team will draw the other’s bullpen out first. That’s why I think the Rays will come out on top.

Tampa Bay will win over the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

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