It doesn’t get any better than this. The ALCS started as a best-of-seven series a whopping nine days ago, and after the two teams split games 1 & 2, it became a best-of-five series. Once they split games 3-6, it turned into what it is now: a best-of-one.

Jon Lester takes the bump for the BoSox, and much has been made of his innings total after his stuff looked flat in Game 3. Right now he’s working on a career high 230 IP including the postseason, while his previous career high was 163 IP, set just last year. It’s no secret why Lester looked fatigued in his last start, a jump of 67 IP will do that to anyone.

Rays’ starter Matt Garza is also working on a career high in innings pitched, but his total of 196.2 IP (including playoffs) is just barely more than his previous career high of 185, which he set back in 2006. Garza’s fastball was still popping Dioner Navarro’s mitt late in Game 3, and there’s little reason to suspect that fatigue will be an issue for the former Fresno State Bulldog. Anything can happen in one game though, so expect the unexpected.

Someone’s going home tonight, and regardless of who it is, let me be the first to congratulate them on a great season. We should be in for a good one, enjoy it.

Bahston
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. JD Drew, RF
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Mark Kotsay, 1B
8. All-Star Catcher Jason Varitek, C
9. Alex Cora wins games, SS – damn Tito, I thought you weren’t supposed to mess with the lineup in the middle of a winning streak
- Jon Lester, P (16-6, 3.21)

Tampa Bay
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Willy Aybar, DH
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Rocco Baldelli, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS
- Matt Garza, P (11-9, 3.70)

Site note: No DotF tonight – the entire AzFL is off, and no Yanks’ farmhands are in the lineup for HWB Waikiki. You can see everyone’s overall winter ball stats here.

Rays’ cheerleader pic from flickr user dbadair, who’s got a badass set of pics from Game 2.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (418)

From the self-proclaimed World Wide Leader:

“I want to apologize to the New York Yankees and the fans for an error in judgment and for putting myself in a difficult situation,” Chamberlain said in a statement released by his agent, Randy Hendricks. “I intend to properly resolve this situation, and do not intend to be in such a situation again. My goal is to focus on pitching for the Yankees in the 2009 season.”

The article goes on to say that Joba’s blood-alcohol level was unknown, and paperwork will be prepared Monday to determine what charges will be filed, if any. As reader Ben B. pointed out last night, there’s a mandatory minimum of 7 days in jail if found guilty, however he could receive less punishment if he’s put on probation.

Joba’s rise to borderline superstardom for the Yankees was meteoric, but a fall from grace can be even swifter. Hopefully Joba realizes this and learns from the mistake. This kind of behavior is inexcusable for anyone, especially someone with countless children looking up to him. Hopefully Harlan lays the smack down, and this is a one-time incident.

Categories : News
Comments (23)

There’s a reason why Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell aren’t starting pitchers, and there are reasons why the three of them aren’t top-notch closers. Sometimes, it pays to remember that.

For the last few days, sportswriters and baseball analysts have been tossing out the same old excuses. The Rays, they say, were thrilled to win two out of three in Boston. They were happy to return to the cozy confines of the Trop with a three games to two lead over the defending World Series Champion Red Sox. I wonder if they’re still so pleased.

On Friday, I discussed my belief that Joe Maddon should have turned to James Shields to close out Boston on Thursday. Had the move backfired, Shields would have gotten some work on a throw day. Had it succeeded, we wouldn’t be whiling the hours away until game seven. It is in this decision that good managers show their mettle and bad managers emerge.

I know people will long argue that Balfour had stellar numbers against lefties, that Dan Wheeler didn’t throw enough strikes. I know people will say that the series isn’t over yet, and it’s not. But it shouldn’t be here.

In the playoffs, managers have to take chances, and they have to recognize that sometimes what works during the regular season isn’t the best option. They have to realize that, when facing the opportunity to put away a resilient opponent, the best choice isn’t your bullpen but your number one starter for two innings.

Maybe Tampa will score four runs early against Jon Lester tonight and coast to a victory. Maybe Boston explodes against Matt Garza and a shell-shocked Rays team that had a World Series berth in its grasp. But the truth is that Tampa just shouldn’t be here. They had the Sox down and out and made a few strategic mistakes that could haunt them for a long time.

Categories : Playoffs
Comments (23)

The Yanks have learned that a bad economy is no time to auction off baseball memorabilia. As the AP reported, yesterday’s stadium memorabilia auction was not very successful.

The last ball hit out of Yankee Stadium didn’t leave the auction block Saturday in a memorabilia auction celebrating Bronx Bombers history…It was expected to fetch up to $400,000, but was pulled after offers fell short of the suggested opening bid of $100,000…

A collection of 15 World Series and American League championship rings that once belonged to former Yankees owner Del Webb was also pulled by the Guernsey’s auction house after the high bid of $325,000 fell short of expectations…

About 100 people came to the Garden and bid several hundreds of dollars for baseball card vending machines, pictures of Yankee Stadium under construction and posters signed by Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

This is hardly a surprising result. People aren’t too keen on spending their disposable incomes on baseball merchandise right now. I’m sure they’ll try again in a few months.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (3)

AzFL Peoria (14-11 in over Scottsdale)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 3 K – 5 for his last 27
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP – 9 of 14 hits have gone for extra bases … hitting .500-.548-.964 in his 7 games
Kevin Russo: 5 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB – batting avg jumps from .143 to .308
Busty McZOMGheonlythrows91: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 4-3 GB/FB – 36 of 60 pitches were strikes … after retiring 6 of the first 7 batters he faced, the wheels fell off in the 3rd: single-single-HBP-sac fly-homer-single-single-walk-pop out-walk-single w/ 3 run error by LFer … threw 42 pitches in the inning, 24 for strikes (57.1%)
Humberto Sanchez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-3 GB/FB – 9 of 14 pitches were strikes (64.3%)

HWB Waikiki‘s game has just started. Austin Romine is behind the plate and batting sixth. These games end mad late because of the time difference, and I don’t feel like waiting around for it. Check out Gameday in the meantime.

Friday’s Games

AzFL Peoria (7-3 loss to Scottsdale)
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 3 K, 1 HBP – teh bust
Jeff Marquez: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 19 of 32 pitches were strikes (59.4%) … teh bust

HWB Waikiki (8-1 win over Honolulu)
Jeremy Bleich: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 9-6 GB/FB – 48 of 78 pitches were strikes (61.5%) … not teh bust, at least for today

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (46)

You know what it is about these Red Sox that really bother me? They shouldn’t be this good. When you look at the lineup for today’s game and compare to the ones the Sox put forward in 2004, that 2004 team would tear apart this 2008 team.

Anyway, you know the drill. Tampa was seven outs away from the World Series with a seven-run lead and couldn’t seal the deal. They better win tonight; I can’t stomach a game seven.

Tampa led the Majors with 57 home wins this year. One more gets them into the Fall Classic.

The game thread is going up early because we’re all out tonight. Feel free to use this as an open thread until the game starts at 8:07 p.m.

Boston Red Sox
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Mark Kotsay, 1B
8. Jed Lowrie, SS
9. Jason Varitek, C

SP — Josh Beckett

Tampa Bay Rays
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. B.J. Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Cliff Floyd, DH
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Gabe Gross, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

SP: James Shields

Update by Mike (8:30pm): Apparently there’s a power outage at TBS’ headquarters, so the game’s not on TV here. Here’s MLB’s live feed. It’s on TBS now.

Categories : Game Threads, Playoffs
Comments (241)
  • A Yankee fan roots for the Red Sox
    By

    I’m unabashedly rooting for Tampa Bay to end this thing tonight. With the Yankees out of the playoffs, I couldn’t be happier, from a baseball perspective, if the Sox miss out on the World Series. But it seems that some of us who claim to be Yankee fans find themselves rooting for the Red Sox. Harvey Aarton in The Times today attempts to excuse this traitorous behavior, but any true Yankee fan wouldn’t root for the Sox until hell freezes over. · (39) ·

  • Price on Peavy, Teixeira and other free agents
    By

    Ed Price offers up his take on the Peavy situation: It seems very unlikely, as we’ve been hearing, that Peavy would come to New York and that the Yanks would meet San Diego’s demands for the pitcher. The Yanks, according to Price, are much more interested in “all the top-tier pitchers” available on the market and Mark Teixeira. Interestingly, though, Price notes that Peavy would come to the AL after “a lot of convincing,” by which I assume he means a few million more dollars a season.

    Update: Over at the Banter, Cliff Corcoran sums up a Jon Heyman column that echoes Price’s piece. The Yanks want to sign everyone, and I am reminded of an article in The Onion from a few years back.
    · (59) ·