Rays Push Sox To the Brink

The Red Sox are once again pushed to the limit in the ALCS, trailing the Rays 3-1 in the series now, and needing to win three games in a row – the last two in Tampa – against a relentless, confident Tampa team.

Amalie Benjamin has the Sox facing elimination tomorrow night, after the Rays 13-4 thumping of the Sox at Fenway last night. Joe Haggerty has Tim Wakefield overwhelmed by the quick-strike Rays last night. Michael Silverman has the Sox getting an appalling performance from their starting pitcher for the third straight game. Joe McDonald has the beatings continuing at Fenway. Jeff Goldberg has the Rays continuing to settle old scores with the Sox. Eric Avidon has more on the latest Fenway flogging of the Sox. Ron Chimelis says that it is hard to believe that this looked like it would be a hard fought series. Bill Ballou has an interesting headline to his article. David Brown has the Sox mixing up their lineup to no avail last night. Steve Krause has the Sox taking it on the chin again. Kevin Thomas has more on the Sox pushed to the brink.

Dan Shaughnessy doesn’t think that the Sox have another comeback in them for this series. Steve Buckley says that the Rays have been a little too comfortable in the box against the Sox…it might be time for a brushback. Sean McAdam has the listless Red Sox facing a long, hard fight to come back against the Rays in this series. Jeff Jacobs says that this year’s Wake up call might’ve come too late. Jon Couture says that the magic shoe is on the other foot in this series. Mike Fine acknowledges that the Sox have been in this position before, but says that this time feels different.

Steve Solloway might be the first in the media to say that if the Red Sox still had Manny, things might be different in this series.  Alex Speier says that health has been the key in this series, good health for the Rays, bad for the Sox.  Bob Ryan says that soon, Red Sox fans are going to have to face the facts, the biggest one being that the Rays are younger and more talented and going to be around for a while in the AL East. John Tomase says that the Sox need to loosen up. Kevin McNamara has the Sox powerless to stop the Rays right now. Art Davidson says that the better team is winning the ALCS. Maureen Mullen says that just nothing is working for the Sox right now.

Shira Springer has David Ortiz giving Sox fans a glimmer of hope that he might be poised to break out with his seventh inning triple. Wild eyed optimist Ron Borges uses the power of positive thinking to make the case that the Red Sox still have a shot in this series. Another cheery, upbeat guy, Jim Donaldson, says that the Sox are now in position to do what they do best. Mark Farinella has doom descending upon New England.

Adam Kilgore has Tim Wakefield unable to save the day for his teammates. Donaldson wonders if it was the last hurrah for Wakefield last night. Chimelis says that Wakefield’s start was sour from the onset last night.

Chris Forsberg looks at the bullpen, which was unable to provide any relief last night. Brian MacPherson has Jacoby Ellsbury taking a seat last night. Bill Doyle has Kevin Cash with bittersweet feelings about his home run last night. Doyle has Trot Nixon throwing out the first pitch last night, and also making a pitch to keep playing. Kilgore has Jason Bay learning to play the Green Monster in a very short time. Ryan has Dustin Pedroia gaining respect from Joe Morgan, and from all of baseball with his style of play and intensity.

McDonald has the Sox trying to take comfort in their history of fighting back in the postseason. McNamara has Ortiz and Youkilis hoping that the off day will help them get back into the swing of things. Donaldson agrees that the off day is a  big-time blessing for the Sox. David Brown says that history might be the Red Sox only remaining ally. McDonald also has Josh Beckett’s former manager Jack McKeon suspecting that the pitcher is ailing.

Daniel Barbarisi has Mike Lowell deciding to have hip surgery on Monday. Haggerty has Lowell finally calling it a season yesterday. Benjamin has Lowell scheduling his hip surgery, knocking him out for the rest of the postseason. Paul Jarvey has more on Lowell giving up hope of playing in this postseason. Couture has Lowell actually relieved that the decision is over.

McAdam has things falling apart on a potential move to Sarasota for Red Sox spring training. Hold on, though, Couture reports that the possibility of the move is not dead yet.

Will Leitch thinks that it is amusing that Boston Dirt Dogs anointed Tim McCarver as their new hero after he ripped on Manny Ramirez.

Benjamin’s notebook has J.D. Drew unable to make any difference at the top of the order. Silverman’s notebook has Lowell hoping to be ready for spring training after scheduling his hip surgery for next week. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Lowell’s upcoming surgery.  Ballou’s notebook has more on Ellsbury sitting last night. Thomas’ notebook has more on Lowell.

Rays

Nick Cafardo has a mini-feature on Carlos Pena and how the hometown kid is living a dream thanks to the power of positive thinking. Dan Ventura has James Shields getting another shot at Dice-K in game five tomorrow night. Kevin McNamara has B.J. Upton finally fulfilling his potential.

Jim McCabe has Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine giving the Rays another strong performance from their starting pitching. Bill Reynolds has Rhode Island guys Rocco Baldelli and Dan Wheeler seeing their postseason dreams come true. Michael Vega has Carl Crawford coming back quickly and strong from his surgery. Barbarisi has Willy Aybar mixing things up against Tim Wakefield

McCabe’s notebook has the Rays’ lineup changes paying dividends against Wakefield. The Projo notebook has more on the RI duo.

Cafardo has Joe Torre under fire for decisions in game 4 of the NLCS. Cafardo’s notebook has Matt Stairs bringing attitude to the Phillies.

The Globe alone had at least 16 full baseball articles this morning. The Projo had 13. I’m not sure what the means, other than that is a lot of baseball stories for one morning.

Patriots

On Patriots Daily, Tyler Carter says that Sunday night was a case of First and Goal and Gone for the Patriots. He notes that the team could be headed for their worst statistical season since Bill Belichick took over in 2000.

Christopher Price has Bill Belichick giving a vote of confidence to Matt Cassel. Mike Reiss goes further on Belichick’s statement, and his belief that Cassel can lead the Patriots. Douglas Flynn looks at the non-stop pressure Cassel has faced since taking over for Tom Brady. Shalise Manza Young has more on Belichick standing up for Cassel. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots are looking like a very average team right now. Dan Duggan says that there will be no rest for the Patriots defense with the pass-happy Denver Broncos up next.

Reiss’ notebook says that Belichick was not overly concerned with the lack of a pass rush on Sunday night, since the Patriots were focused on stopping the run.

Celtics/Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa notes that Aaron Ward is not living up to his status as the #2 defenseman on the Bruins defense. Steve Conroy has Michael Ryder hoping for a win against his old team. Conroy’s notebook looks at a pair of call ups by the Bruins.

Also check out the all-new BruinsLinks.com for stories, videos and photos about the Bruins from around the internet.

Steve Bulpett has Brian Scalabrine hoping to still be able to contribute to the Celtics. Marc J. Spears has the Celtics saying that they will be picking up Rajon Rondo’s option for next season, and the point guard hopes to make his stay in Boston a long one. Bulpett’s notebook has Kendrick Perkins getting back on the court in last night’s preseason win over Cleveland.

  • Angry Old Bastard

    … Thank God the sainted Bob Ryan is around to tell us, “the Rays are younger and more talented and going to be around for a while in the AL East”……gee, I never could have figured that out on my own. Ryan is such a knowledgeable scribe.

    • http://www.jonvssports.blogspot.com Jon

      Bob Ryan is usually awesome. But I’m glad he’s around to tell us these things especially since the Red Sox have no farm system and crappy young players. Oh, wait…

      The Rays aren’t dominating anything next year. The Blue Jays will have a monster pitching staff again, the Orioles are getting better, and the Yankees will be active in the free agent market. Oh, and there’s us.

      • Angry Old Bastard

        Well, I don’t know if they’ll “dominate” but they’ve got a helluva team and most of them are young and SIGNED. East Division is looking like a beast.

  • Chris

    And the intelligence doesn’t end there! Some headline writer at The Globe actually used the phrase, ‘Ray of Hope’ atop Shaughnessy’s column this morning. Because, you know, the team in Tampa is called–w-a-i-t f-o-r it–the Rays. Mensa candidates over there on Bowtie Boulevard, I’ll tell ya.

  • Tony

    The Rays have a better, younger starting lineup, but the Sox have the better starting pitching, with the three B’s (Bowden, Bard, Buchholz) on the way in 2009.

    Offensively, the Sox are getting old at key spots and they should be active in the free agent market in my opinion, because young power hitters, especially, don’t seem to be dotting their minor league rosters.

    But really, there’s no need to panic about the future. The Rays are better this year; that doesn’t mean they’ll be better next year, in 2010, or whenever.

    Besides, what does Tampa’s management do when a lot of these young guys need to get paid when arbitration time comes along…..can you say, “2003 Florida Marlins”??

    • Chris

      That’s what I say. At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays will morph into a ‘small market’ team full of ‘big market’ salary demands. This is the proverbial definition of ‘This Won’t End Well.’

      • Angry Old Bastard

        The problem is, almost all of the Rays young stars are ALREADY SIGNED long term. They’ve got a helluva team, I have no problem giving them credit for it. The only thing they have in common with the Marlins is they are from Florida.

  • will

    Hopefully we saw the last of Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, and hopefully only one more game of Captain Soundbite striking or popping-out with runners in scoring position.

    • Angry Old Bastard

      could not agree more, Will. Varitek is the most coddled, overrated player in Red Sox History. Do people really think Red Sox pitchers would forget how to pitch if Varitek wasn’t around?….PUH-LEESE….The Media LOVES Varitek because he’s a “nice fella”….give me a break

      • will

        Exactly AOB. I see a lot of pitchers doing very well without Captain Soundbite behind the plate.