8:19- Red Sox go up early on a Dustin Pedroia solo shot. F' me. You might be asking yourself why I didn't hedge my bet by betting about $800 to win $725 on the Red Sox (I could have probably even placed $250 to win $750 after the Rays were on top 3-1). Well, there's no money left in my online sportsbook account. I donked off my money betting on stupid things like China winning more medals than the United States... and my sportsbook account has been erratic in its payouts. My plan is no more deposits and make one last withdrawal after getting this payday. Then I'll re-invest in a more trustworthy site, if one exists. :Sigh:, it's so hard to find a good bookie nowadays.
8:33- Rays go down in order in the bottom half of the first. Lester looks on tonight. Damn, I was hoping for the tired looking Lester of last start. Lefties have done well all year against the Rays so I'm very concerned with Lester's early good stuff.
I'm very familiar with both teams. We had Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, and Jed Lowrie on our 2nd place fantasy league team this year. The Rays have been my baseball mistress this season, due to my bet. I openly cheated on my baseball wife, the Mets, and may have even caused their late collapse this season due to my infidelity (not focusing 100% of my rooting energy on them). Anyway, tonight's starter Matt Garza was a big reason why I placed this bet to begin with. Shortly after they traded for him at the winter meetings, I placed this futures bet.
8:44- Garza fans Varitek to end the top of the 2nd. Both pitchers are dealing tonight. Runs are going to be hard to come by, and I have the distinct feeling of grains of sand slipping from in between my fingers. I'm like the captain going down with The Titanic.
8:55- The Rays are getting mowed down by Lester. Golly, I think I'd rather be watching The Steve Harvey Show right now. FYI, The entire country was unable to watch the first 20 minutes of game 6 last night due to technical difficulties at TBS, and was subjected to the replacement programming of The Steve Harvey Show. Evidently, whatever the problem was, it was so major that they couldn't even run a scroll at the bottom saying "Experiencing broadcasting difficulties". Damn you, Ted Turner. This led to Mud and I watching the hangdog face on Steve Harvey in confusion at the bar during dinner last night and pestering the bartender to scroll through the channels looking for the game in vain. I ended up self-medicating by pounding 2 stiff white sangrias, and getting updates from Mud's ESPN Gamecast on his phone.
9:06- Garza K's Big Papi with Pedroia on 2nd to end the top half of the 3rd. Let me conclude my story from last night. After I drunk drove home, I flipped on the TV and watched until the Rays were down 4-2 in the 7th inning. Then I went sleep, trying to pull off the strategy I learned from Phil Ivey. Ivey often pays off his prop bets early, in an effort to reverse jinx. He paid off the $2M he bet on the Lakers to beat the Celtics in the finals this year after game 4. I was hoping to change my luck by giving up on the game too. No such luck; when I turned on my computer this morning and saw the same 4-2 score I went to sleep with. Well, my plan worked just about as well as his.
9:12- Rays are retired 1,2,3 again. Let's try this: Jon Lester is pitching a no-hitter! I repeat, a PERFECT GAME!!! Take that, baseball superstition.
9:23- Still no score after 3 and 1/2. This could be the most painful gambling loss I've ever had and it's all my fault. On Thursday night, with the Rays up 7-0 in the 7th inning of game 5, and up 3-1 in the series, I took out the celebratory Remy Martin from my freezer. Needless to say, when Mud left the dejected setting of my home a little after 12am, the bottle remained unopened.
9:33- Longoria doubles down the right field line and Pena beats the throw on a nice slide at the plate! Game tied 1-1. I jump up, shouting and clapping- sorry downstairs neighbors!
9:42- Garza rolls through the bottom of the Sox order in the top of the 5th. This live blogging is at least doing a decent job of draining some of my nervous energy, or else I'd be a complete wreck. Honestly, if the Rays are losing when 10pm comes around, this might become a Mad Men live blog.
9:50- Lead-off double by Aybar and infield hit by Navarro! Runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. I'd let Baldelli swing away here. Maybe if Bartlett were up, I'd sac bunt; but let Rocco get a lick. All things aside, this is a great story here- a cancer survivor (Lester had lymphoma) facing Rocco Baldelli, the longest tenured Ray who's battled a myriad of injuries throughout his career, including a MITOCHONDRIAL DISEASE this year. This is a great script and it's why I love sports
9:54- BALDELLI SINGLES IN AYBAR! RAYS UP 2-1!
9:59- Dammit, Bartlett strikes out with runners on 1st and 2nd. I'd have sacrificed, as I mentioned earlier, with him. Aki grounds out weakly, and BJ gets jammed to end the threat. I got 2 texts from Slewyou and Mud right after the Baldelli RBI- good to see they're sending their support. They know I'm treating to dinner if my windfall comes through... what these guys don't know is it's going to be the drive-thru at Wendy's... 99 cent menu items only.
10:08- Pedrioa is such a nuisance- he walks on 11 pitches with 1 out in the 6th. He has the worst nickname ever- "El Caballito" which translates to "Little Pony". The next batter, David Ortiz has one of the best nicknames in baseball, "Big Papi" (mostly due to its double entendre in Spanish). I'm babbling now because I'm so nervous... Garza is pushing 100 pitches now, and has run up a 3-2 count to Ortiz...
10:17- Stike 'em out, throw 'em out! Whew... If I'm Maddon, I'm leaving Garza in to start the 7th but with a quick leash... and for crying out loud, get David Price warmed up! He hasn't been used nearly enough this series.
10:20- Lester retires the 3 Rays batters with 5 pitches. Quite a contrast from Garza laboring through the last half of the inning. Tampa needs to start getting more selective with their pitches and let Lester work himself into trouble. His Achille's heel has always been his bouts of wildness. I'm not sure if the announcers are making this point, because I'm watching with the game muted. It pissed me off how much they were in the tank for Boston during game 5. I liked Ron Darling (he's the Mets color man during the regular season), but he's in my doghouse until further notice.
10:28- JD Drew walked on 4 pitches... and Garza's getting left in- NO!
10:29- Bay singles... I feel sick. Where's the bullpen!? Please don't make me start watching Mad Men. If the Rays lose, it's because of Maddon's slow hooks for his pitchers... in game 5 and game 7. Garza's fastball is topping out at 93 now, a few mph off from earlier. What am I missing here?
10:33- Kotsay flies out, Varitek at bat... well, despite last night's HR, Varitek is as close to an automatic out as there is at this point in his career. This has to be the last batter for Garza, regardless of the outcome. V-tek strikes out!!!
10:36- I take a much needed break... bathroom, charge up my laptop, and take my deviated septum medication. I went to the ears, eyes, nose, throat doctor last week and was diagnosed with a deviated septum (my nose whistles when I breathe). I'm not sure if the Medrol he prescribed is working (it's supposed to reduce the membrane in my nose), because while I was hyperventilating last inning, it sounded like tea kettle in here.
10:42- Willy Aybar crushes a 3-2 pitch into the left field seats! 3-1 Rays! Remember in Braveheart, when the English calvary was charging at William Wallace? Well, I'm yelling out "HOLD!... HOLD!!... HOLD!!!" like William Wallace right now. Once again, the Rays will have to stave off a Red Sox rally.
10:51- Why is Garza still in the game? The Rays have one of the best bullpens in baseball, despite game 5... and game 5, Maddon mismanaged the pen leaving each pitcher out there too long when he could have mixed and matched with the quality and variety of arms he has at his disposal.... and Bartlett boots a routine grounder to start the inning. Tampa had arguably the best defense in baseball this season too... I guess there is something to be said for lack of experience and playing tight. The Rays have made a lot of uncharacteristic errors the past few games.
10:56- Garza exits and Wheeler comes in... wow, Maddon brings in the closer in the 8th. I don't like this. I don't like him to get 6 outs. Also, Gabe Gross comes in as a defensive replacement?? Where's Fernando Perez, who's much better, and I contend could have caught the GW hit in Game 5.
10:59- Coco Crisp singles... 1st and 2nd nobody out for "My Little Pony". I would bring in Chad Bradford here- he's a groundball specialist and is great at inducing the double play. This is sick. I know waayy too much about Tampa... Tampa, not the Mets, but Tampa. I'm such a baseball adulterer. ***MAD MEN SPOILER ALERT to follow in the strikeout font***
11:02- The Little Pony flies out! JP Howell in for Wheeler to face Papi!! Now, Maddon is finally using his bullpen right. Even if Ortiz gets a hit here, I have no complaint.
11:18- Ortiz grounds out. Bradford, the submariner, in to face Youkilis... and he walks. My blood pressure is so high, if I were to get a paper cut, blood would gush forth like a money shot. It's now JD Drew vs David Price... STRIKE 3!!!!!!!
11:21- I can't take this anymore- I'm pausing my DVR, and taking a quick shower. Hopefully the Rays tack on some insurance runs in my absence.
11:32- Done with the shower. I raked leaves at my mom's house this afternoon, and I've been smelling like a haunted hayride ever since. I fast-forward through the Rays at bats and nada.... here we go- I'd leave in Price for the 9th. Young flamethrowers have cut their teeth in the playoffs before (young Mariano and K-Rod) and Price is in the same mold, albeit he'll be a starter before long.
11:34- Wow, it's never easy. Leadoff walk.
11:36- Price comes back to fan Kotsay. I can taste it... either that or I threw up in my mouth a little.
11:39- The captain, Jason Varitek strikes out! ONE MORE OUT!
11:40- WE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
11:50- Just a quick wrap-up. This has been one crazy ride. I might need another shower, because I was sweating out that bottom of the 9th. This post is already probably 10,000 words, so I'll close with this: stay tuned for my 2009 sleeper baseball pick, and go win the World Series, Rays! They are a true underdog, and a great story.