Thoughts on Game 6 of the Sox/Rays ALCS

Thanks TBS. Thanks a lot. 

Technical difficulties, huh? Fantastic. It’s only the most anticipated baseball game of the season after the miraculous Red Sox comeback in Game 5. 

There’s a game being played, but there’s no broadcast of it ’cause TBS is having technical difficulties.

Terrible.

And now, according to an online gamecast, B.J. Upton just blasted a homer that looks like it bore a hole into the roof of The Trop in the first inning.

Thanks, TBS. This is almost as bad as Sox fans booing Big Papi in the third inning of Game 5.

Almost.

1-0, Rays, through one.

Kevin Youkilis just tied it with a solo shot to lead off the second, only moments after the broadcast crew talked about Rays starter James Shields going by the nickname “Big Game James.”

Two things about this.

One, give the crew credit for bringing up the fact that the nickname was originally James Worthy’s. But that’s the point. Where have creative nicknames gone? Why are so many recycled now?

And secondly, exactly how many big games has James Freaking Shields pitched in? He pitches for the Rays.

The Rays.

Shouldn’t you actually have to earn a nickname, whether it’s recycled or not?

And by the way, J.D. Drew just missed on a towering big fly of his own, which just missed the fair pole.

Aww, isn’t that cute? The Rays sold out a baseball game — without the tarp.

Big Game James is one hit away from getting shelled. He walked three in the third to load ’em up before Mark Kotsay lined out to Upton in center. Shields is up over 70 pitches and is down 2-1. The Rays will be lucky to get five innings out of him.

And if this goes to Game 7, the Sox are winning. They just are.

Josh Beckett, who has actually started in and won real live big games, is beginning to find a groove. 2-1, Sox, through three.

Now we’re in a delay because home plate umpire Darrell Cousins appears that he will need to be replaced because of an injury. Talk about bizarre.

This may be the next stroke of luck to bail out the Rays. Watching the game — the part at least that TBS was willing to show us tonight — you could tell that Shields wasn’t exactly happy with Cousins’ strike zone. Considering there was speculation that Rays manager Joe Maddon started Scott Kazmir in game 5 because of Kazmir’s past run-ins with Cousins behind the plate — former D-Backs manager and current Cubs’ color analyst Bob Brenly would tell you in no uncertain terms that Cousins can be sketchy — this could possibly get Shields back on track.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine the 20-minute delay helping him. This is becoming like a rain delay.

How ’bout that for Shields and the Rays? Tim McClelland is going behind the plate to replace Cousins. McClelland called Shields’ gem in Game 1 of the series.

Carl Crawford slaps a flare to left with two outs in the fourth for the first hit since Upton made The Trop look like Cowboys Stadium. If that’s all Beckett’s gonna give up, two runs may be enough. He’s dealing.

Um, hitting and running with Jason Bartlett and Dioner Navarro? That’s Bartlett hitting and Navarro, the catcher, running.

OK then. Didn’t realize Beckett needed the help tonight.

And then Bartlett homers. Jason Bartlett. 

He hit one all year.

One.

Tied at 2 in the fifth now.

That helps the ol’ .367 slugging percentage.

Ladies and gentlemen, call off the search. There has been a Jason Varitek sighting. Big fly to right, and it’s 3-2.

Guess Sox fans can quit booing the Cap’n now.

Do you still get to keep the nickname “Big Game James” if you can’t even get out of the sixth at home in a potential clinching LCS game?

Especially if it’s your first real big game? (The other playoff starts don’t count. This is a BIG GAME, being the one after the Sox somehow kept this series going.)

I say no.

May be choke time for the Rays now. Bartlett allowed the inning to continue with a bad throw, and then Ortiz rips a single to score CoCo Crisp, who chased Shields with his infield hit. 4-2, Sox.

And here’s Youk.

J.P. Howell got out of it, and so did Boston’s Hideki Okajima in the sixth. We’re three outs away from seeing Jonathan Papelbon for a two-inning save and sending it to Game 7.

The Sox win it, and I can’t say that i’m surprised. As soon as Bartlett made the error in the sixth, essentially gifting the Sox another run, it was clear:

The Rays are tight.

This loose, fun-loving, too-young-to-care club is finally feeling it, and feeling it for real.

A lot was made of the Rays beating up on the Sox in September to hold onto the AL East title.

But you know what? Big deal. They knew they were in the playoffs anyway. It was a given, what with the wild card.

Now all the cards are on the table, and the chips are pushed into the middle.

One game to find out whether the Sox have made just another miracle comeback, and whether those who figured the Rays would eventually fold were right.

Bring on Game 7.

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2 Comments

Filed under ALCS, Boston Red Sox, Designated Hitter, Major League Baseball, MLB playoffs, Sports, Sports columns, Tampa Bay Rays, The Sanford Herald, World Series

2 responses to “Thoughts on Game 6 of the Sox/Rays ALCS

  1. Mike

    Big Game James huh? If I had started this game tonight, I would’ve started just as many “big” games as James Shields has.
    If I had money to bet, I would have gone to Vegas on Friday and put a ton on the Sox to win 6 more games in a row starting tonight.

  2. Mike

    We are not alone in the questioning of “Big Game” James Shields. Mike Lupica just referenced it on Sports Reporters.

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