Well, during my time away from basic luxuries like the Internet, cable TV and cell phone reception, the Rays won two very close games against the Cubs, two managers got fired, and the Rays signed first overall Draft pick Tim Beckham. And they played on ESPN, which I conveniently did not have on my grandparents’ farm. Turns out I did have some good catching up to do upon my return. Thankfully, the news was mostly positive. We’ll just omit the Yankees going on a sevengame winning streak and stealing the headlines. Those people missed the show in Florida.
I don’t know much about the first two RaysCubs games, other than that the Cubs obviously didn’t watch any Rays games earlier this season, because they had no knowledge of a basic rule of smallball: Don’t bunt on Evan Longoria. He makes that barehanded play from third base as well as I have seen anyone in recent years do it. He has made that play a few times this year with complete success. Even with the game on the line, he makes that big defensive stop to save his pitching staff. And he hit a home run in that first game, too. And so did former Cub and lifelong Cubs fan Cliff Floyd. Great job by those guys.
The Rays entered game three looking for their sweep, returning James Shields from suspension to start against young Sean Gallagher. Shields went up 10 early, and it remained that way until the seventh inning decided the game. He ended up surrendering three earned runs in that inning, in which the Rays used three pitchers to escape trailing by two runs. In the bottom half, things looked grim when lights out setup man Carlos Marmol took the mound. The flamethrower who was so lethal against the Braves was going up against the bottom of the Rays order. However, he began to lose control early and often. Marmol walked Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro, then hit Gabe Gross to load the bases. Akinori Iwamura stepped up, and Marmol beaned him too, scoring a run. With the Cubs in trouble, Lou Piniella brought in left hander Scott Eyre to face one of his former players, Carl Crawford. After taking a ball, Crawford connected on an inside hanging pitch and changed the course of the game. Fly ball… deep to right field… Derosa back… grand slam! Rays lead, 63. Marmol: 0 IP, 0 H, 4 ER. The Rays scored two more off Eyre and went on to an 83 victory and a sweep of the Cubs. Their 4329 record means that, with 43 wins, these 2008 Rays have already set a franchise record with 43 victories before the All Star break.
Congratulations Rays for sweeping the best team in baseball at home and keeping momentum alive. The Cubs definitely made it interesting, and I would like nothing more than to see this as a World Series matchup sooner than later. These teams know drama better than TNT. I knew I should have placed a “friendly wager” on this series with one Cubs blogger before the series started. Maybe I should take up sports gambling. Now the Rays get the Astros, who besides Lance Berkman and Miguel Tejada are just asking to get rolled right out of town. So let’s do it. Until next time, go Rays.