Sunday, October 19, 2008
How special is this team? Looking back to the top of the 7th Thursday night, the notion of a Game 7 was beyond belief. And wasn't "Big Game" James (laughably lame and apparently meaningless nickname) - Tampa's best pitcher- saved in reserve for Game 6 "just in case" the Sox beat Kazmir?
Beckett was decent, but the bullpen saved him. 4 innings, 1 walk, 0 hits, 0 runs from Okajima, Masterson, and Papelbon. That's no easy trick. I don;t think anyone will be moaning about Francona leaving Beckett in too long in Game 6.
There were some unexpected heroes in Game 6, like the above mentioned bullpen. Jason Varitek had his first hit of the series - a homerun - in the 6th. He still left 3 men in scoring position, and 1 RBI doesn't atone for 172 games of offensive irrelevance. But it's still nice.
The Sox could have scored so much more often. They left 12 men, including 7 in scoring position.
What to expect for Game 7? Well, for all the spunk and character Tampa Bay has shown this season, there is no animal like a Game 7. Perhaps facing elimination, the Rays will toughen up. Or maybe they'll crumble. Matt Garza faces Jon Lester, in what seemed like a mismatch in Game 3, but now seems like a toss-up.
And kudos to Francona and Masterson for giving Papelbon just the one inning of work. The Sox might need two or more from him Sunday.
I can't wait. Win or lose, the Sox turned this series from painful to thoroughly entertaining.
AP Photo/Steve Nesius
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara