Day two of the playoffs begins with the first ever postseason game for the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa baseball has endured decades and decades of waiting for this one special moment, and it's finally here! Rob Schneider must be thrilled! Seriously folks, let's all stand up and put our hands together for the franchise that pulled theyselves up by they bootstraps to vault from durst to first.
Your pitchers today are righties James Shields and Javy Vazquez. Bet Ozzie is super-thrilled that Big Game Javy came up in his rotation for today. Still, he's 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA against the Rays on the year. In one start against the ChiSox, Shields pitched six innings and allowed just one run (an Alexei Ramirez ding-dong) but didn't factor in the decision. Dude was 9-2 at home, though, with just a 2.59 ERA.
What does this all mean for today? Absolutely nothing. It's the playoffs, and anything can happen! Except for a commissioner-issued exclusion that lets the Yankees participate at the last minute. That's not happening.
This glog happens after the jump:
2:30PM: I'm going to try the ESPN Radio feed again. Let's see who the announcers are.
2:35PM: It's the "Land of the Cowbell," according to Gary Thorne. He's joined by color man Chris Singleton. I am not opposed to either of these gents. (Yet)
2:37PM: Here's a clever interview with Rays manager Joe Maddon in which he reveals that he comes from an Italian family and loves The Godfather movies. Every day I learn new things that make me want to root for Giuseppe.
2:40PM: Shields starts off by throwing a strike to Orlando Cabrera. Here's your live gameday from MLB.com. O-Cabs flies out to Gross. One down.
2:43PM: With Carlos Quentin off the postseason roster, DeWayne Wise gets the start in left field for the ChiSox. He's batting second, and he strikes out swinging on a wicked changeup from Shields. And yes, I can hear the cowbells through my tinny computer speakers. Shields gets Jermaine Dye to ground out.
2:48PM: Vazquez is 12-16 on the year. If throwing a loser on the mound in the first game of a postseason series isn't evidence enough as to how bad a playoff team the White Sox are, then perhaps I've vastly underestimated them. Aki Iwamura grounds out and B.J. Upton flies out on the first pitch. Way to have patience, Annie Anxious. Here's Carlos Pena, who strikes out swinging. If Vazquez throws a no-hitter, I'll eat my hat.
2:53PM: Shields will face Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey in this inning. Combined age: 849. Thome grounds out to Rays MVP Jason Bartlett, but on the right side. That wacky shift!
2:56PM: Konerko grounds out to third. Here's Griffey, back in the postseason for the first time since 1997, or the last time I wore Chuck Taylor All Stars. Griff strikes out swinging on another filthy changeup. Middle of the second!
3:00PM: Evan Longoria just tater-totted and the Trop exploded. 1-0 Rays.
3:03PM: That's the 26th ding-dong allowed by Vazquez on the year, but follows up by striking out Rays lifer Carl Crawford. DH Cliff Floyd sends one deep down the right field line, but it goes just foul. Party pooper. Floyd strikes out swinging on a changeup. Two down.
3:06PM: Here's Dioner Navarro, the catcher with a tidy .800 OPS at home on the year. Okay, it's really just .797 but I really wanted to use the word 'tidy'. It's a crutch. Kid pops one into no-mans-land between short and left and he ends up on second with a double.
3:09PM: Vazquez works fast with the bases empty but works at a Trachsel-esque speed with runners on. This does not bode well for a three hour-or-under game. Gabe Gross strikes out, Vazquez' fourth K. End of 2nd.
3:12PM: Massive injury news: Carlos Pena is out of the game, replaced at first base by Manny Aybar. Seems that Pena got hurt by a bouncing ball thrown by Longoria during warmups before the game. Rookie mistake, I guess.
3:15PM: Alexei Ramirez leads off with a single up the middle. Here's A.J. Pierzynski, who singles in front of Crawford. Very quickly, the White Sox have two on and no out.
Jose Juan Uribe sac bunts the runners over.
3:18PM: O-Cabs comes up in a big spot and does what he does best: pops out. Two down. Here's DeWayne Wise again. Neat Dewayne Wise fact: he was born exactly one month after me. Other neat fact: he just hit a three-run tater tot. 3-1 ChiSox.
3:23PM: That was the 25th dong allowed by Shields on the year. And you know, the Sox totally live or die by the dong, as per Gary Thorne. Dye just doubled to deep left-center. The wheels are coming off the Rays bandwagon very early. Here's Jim Thome. Chris Singleton just said "this game isn't over yet". Really? I thought these things had a sixty minute time limit. Thome grounds out to second.
3:28PM: MVP Jason Bartlett singles past Uribe to lead off the third for the Rays. Maddon calls Bartlett "the glue" of the team, meaning that when the grownups go out for wine and dancing, Bartlett won't leave Maddon's side and asks dumb questions. Aki Iwamura hits a huge flyball over Griffey's head and ends up with a triple, scoring Bartlett. 3-2 White Sox.
3:31PM: Upton strikes out on a foul tip bringing up Aybar. Hey wasn't that a movie? "Bringing Up Aybar"? Aybar flies out to Wise, who laser guns a throw to home that NEARLY gets Iwamura tagging. 3-3 Tie.
3:33PM: LONGORIA HOMERS AGAIN! 4-3 Rays. Two taters on his first two playoff pitches. Amazing!!!
3:35PM: Last third baseman to tater twice in his first ever playoff game: Chipper Jones. Good company for Longoria, especially if he ever wants to go hunt wild boar.
3:36PM: Carl Crawford flies out to end the inning. End of the third. What a game!
3:41PM: The last two players to tater twice in an ALDS game were Frank Thomas in 2006 and A.J. Pierzynski in 2005. This is mildly interesting, at best. Konerko goes down looking. Seems that Pena is out of the game with slightly blurred vision in his left eye; he scratched the eye at home last night. ANY GUESSES AS TO HOW?!?
3:43PM: Griffey grounds out. Shields induces Alexei Ramirez into grounding out to first. 1-2-3 inning, lets head to the bottom of the fourth, whaddya say?
3:52PM: It'll be Floyd, Navarro, and Gross here in the fourth. Vazquez starts Floyd out with three straight balls. Cliff drills the fourth pitch into the seats...but just foul. Javy comes back to strike Floyd out. Navarro pops out.
3:55PM: Gabe Gross walks and steals second with Bartlett at bat. Gross ain't fast but A.J. throws out just 18% of base-runners on the year. Bartlett pops out, end of the fourth.
4:00PM: Pierzynski leads off the fifth with a single; he's 2-for-2 now. BTW, Longoria is officially the first ever baseball player to hit a ding-dong in his first two playoff at-bats. Uribe flies out to Crawford.
4:03PM: Ozzie calls for the hit-and-run but O-Cabs swings and misses at a high, hard one...Pierzynski gets thrown out 'stealing' second by a country mile. Fella didn't even bother sliding, he just meandered into Iwamura's tag. O-Cabs lines out to end the inning.
4:08PM: This is the bottom of the fifth inning. Iwamura, Upton, and Aybar will be featured as your hitters this inning. Aki leads off with a single to right. Singleton says he was talking to Aki's translator before the game about how excited Iwamura was about today's game. Was Singleton just talking to the interpreter? Or was he talking to Aki through the interpreter? These are the boring questions I need answered.
4:12PM: Beej Upton nearly GIDP's but Ramirez bobbles the ball at second while attempting to relay to first. That's a fielder's choice, despite the fact that we are all governed by a higher being and have zero free will.
4:16PM: Aybar singles and Upton advances to second. Here's superstar rookie and history's new friend Evan Longoria. He's not the first to ding-dong in his first two career playoff at-bats, as per the Tampa Bay research staff. Gary Gaetti did it back in the 1987 ALCS. Longoria singles, and it's 5-3 Rays.
4:20PM: Clayton Richard comes on in relief of Vazquez and promptly gives up a single to Crawford. Aybar scores, 6-3 Rays.
4:25PM: The southpaw Richard was supposed to neutralize the lefties Crawford and Floyd. Cliff hits another long foul ball, one of five straight foul balls, before striking out swinging on a slider.
4:26PM: Navarro goes down swinging, as well, and we're finally headed to the sixth inning.
4:31PM: It'll be Wise, Dye, and Thome here in the sixth. Shields has already thrown 75 pitches through five innings. Wise bunts back to Shields who picks it up and tosses to Aybar who scoops it for the out. Dye flies out to right. Hey, it's Jim Thome. Oh, I screwed that joke up big time.
4:33PM: Shields gets Thome to ground it back to him, and it's another 1-2-3 inning for the right-hander. Okay, now we're moving along at a nice pace.
4:38PM: It'll be Gross, Bartlett and Iwamura to bat here in the bottom of the sixth. Richard is still in the game because Gross and Iwamura are lefties, and Bartlett is a twerp. Gross strikes out.
4:42PM: Bartlett follows suit and strikes out. Here's Iwamura, who already has a triple and a single on the game. Iwamura strikes out swinging, and Richard has officially completed the vaunted "Strike Out Five Tampa Hitters in a Row" task that AL East fastballers used to do with such frequency.
4:47PM: Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't James Shields once go by the name Jamie Shields? Konerko just singled off him, whoever he used to be. Griffey strikes out.
4:50PM: Grant Balfour is warming up in the Tampa bullpen as Shields nears 100 pitches. Note: Troy Percival is off the Tampa roster for the playoffs because he is a creampuff, so I'm sure Maddon is getting nervous as Shields gives up his first walk of the game to Alexei Ramriez.
4:52PM: Pierzynski gets hit with a pitch on his leg and the bases are loaded. Shields is D-U-N done as Maddon signals for Balfour. Tight, tentative times in Tampa!
4:56PM: Balfour allowed just three ding-dongs on the year in fifty-eight innings. Heck, he only gave up 28 hits of any kind. He'll face Juan Uribe with the bases loaded and just one out. J.P. Howell is now warming up in the Tampa pen. Uribe goes down swinging. Two down.
4:59PM: There's a discussion going on between Balfour and Cabrera as Balfour is moving halfway towards the plate and Cabrera is kicking dirt towards the mound. What the heck is wrong with O-Cabs? What a nut! Home plate ump Joe West calms everyone down. Balfour strikes out O-Cabs and the two gentlemen give each other the ol' Evil Eye. Ozzie emerges from the dugout to get his own players back under control. IT'S A TEMPEST IN A TROPICANA BOX! Seventh inning stretch time.
5:04PM: Hey, maybe Clayton Richard should have started this game. He's still in and he retires Upton on a fly ball to right. Aybar grounds out.
5:07PM: Here's Longoria for his fourth plate appearance of the day. So far he's 3-for-3 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Ozzie approaches the mound for a chat but keeps Richard in the game. Longoria walks. With Crawford up, Evan takes a big lead, and heads for second just as Richard attempts to pick him off. He's safe, though, as Konerko couldn't get the ball out of his glove.
5:08PM: Crawford grounds out, and the seventh inning is doneskis. Still 6-3 Rays.
5:12PM: Lefty J.P. Howell is the new Rays pitcher. He'll face pinch hitter Brian Anderson and his .232 batting average to start the eighth. After working the count full, Anderson strikes out looking.
5:17PM: Howell gets Dye to strike out on a near-check swing. Here's Thome, 0-for-3 with three groundball outs on the day. Make that 0-for-4 with four groundball outs. Maybe Thome needs a reboot.
5:22PM: Clayton Richard is still in the game, pitching to pinch hitter Rocco Baldelli. Look out for those mitochondria, sir! He grounded out. Navarro's up next.
5:25PM: Navarro flies out, Gross singles, and Bartlett singles.
5:28PM: Iwamura walks. Richard's streak of good times has certainly ended. Here comes Octavio Dotel to 'relieve'.
5:31PM: Chances of Upton hitting a tetra tot here are higher than you think. I'm going 50-50 between that or a strikeout.
5:33PM: Kid struck out. What do I win? We're headed to the ninth, still 6-3 Rays.
5:36PM: With Troy Percival off the postseason roster, Dan Wheeler is going to close out for the Rays in today's game. Fella went 13-for-18 in save sitches during the regular season. He'll face Konerko, Griffey, and Ramirez.
5:42PM: And Konerko takes what he thinks is ball four and starts trotting down to first base. Turns out the scoreboard was wrong, it was just ball three. I hate it when that happens. With a full count, Konerko fouls off a bunch of balls, and on pitch number ten Paul launches a deep one to left that goes over the wall. Solo tot Konerko! 6-4 Rays.
5:43PM: Ken Griffey follows that up with a sad fly out. One down.
5:47PM: Alexei Ramirez is getting foul-happy now on a 1-2 count. On pitch number seven, though, he strikes out swinging.
5:49PM: AJ flies out to end the game. Final score: 6-4 Rays. Dick Vitale is dancing in the aisles with Rob Schneider, Kevin Costner, and Wade fuggin Boggs. It's Successfultober in Tampa! Thanks for joining me in this liveglog, readers. See youse later.