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October 11, 2008

No, no, no, Joe

joemaddengetty.jpgDon't know if you stayed up for the late innings of the ALCS opener, but if you did you were probably wondering the same thing I was when the Tampa Bay Rays outsmarted themselves in the eighth inning and suffered a 2-0 home loss to the Red Sox as a result.

The Rays were trailing by two runs with baserunners at first and second, no one out and Boston reliever Hideki Okajima behind 3-0 on the count to Tampa slugger Carlos Pena. What happened next defies logical explanation.

Everybody in the ballpark and millions of television viewers knew that Pena would be taking the next pitch. Okajima obviously was struggling with his command and the tying run was not yet in scoring position, so the opportunity to load the bases with Evan Longoria on deck was too good to be true.

Except that manager Joe Maddon (right) apparently gave Pena the green light and Pena swung at a pitch up -- and maybe out of -- the strike zone. He hit a routine fly ball to right and Longoria followed by pounding another pitcher's pitch into the ground for an inning-ending double play. It was the third time the Rays were in a position to take control of the game and they let the Red Sox off the hook each time.

It's way too early to say the upstart Rays aren't ready for prime time, but they looked very much like a team that's never been in this situation before, while the Red Sox looked like the defending World Champions that they are. We'll have to wait and see if there's a trend forming.

Getty images

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

It was sad to watch. You can just see the Red Sox in their playoff-mode making the right moves and getting the breaks.

95% of the time, that pitch is going to be a strike, simply because, as you said, everyone knows the batter is taking.

Honestly, if I have a guy who has hit 77 home runs in two years and, with .411 and .377 OBPs in that time, has a good batting eye, I'm trusting him to make a good decision on the pitch.


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Pete's reply: I suppose, but green lighting there means you're trolling for a three-run home run. If he walks, all you need is a single to take control of the game, and the guy was going to walk him.

"......., but they looked very much like a team that's never been in this situation before, while the Red Sox looked like the defending World Champions that they are. "

Now that is a profound statement.

Despite some early control problems, I thought Dice-K was nasty! This kid is probably the reason the Sox win the whole thing again. As much as it pains me to say that. But this current Sox team has a nice blend of pitching, young talent and veterans that know their roles.

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Pete's reply: I agree. Love their bullpen, but that was a chance to put a psychological dent in it. Obviously, Pena could have done that with a double or a home run, but I like to let people beat themselves if they want to.

"Pete's reply: I suppose, but green lighting there means you're trolling for a three-run home run. If he walks, all you need is a single to take control of the game, and the guy was going to walk him."

Maybe Madden was trying to be Earl Weaver?

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Pete's reply: The thought did cross my mind.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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