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Dan Shaughnessy

Bursting at the seams

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / October 13, 2008
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Picked-up pieces from the floor of the Trop Dome while singing Warren Zevon's "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."

  • Day game today. What are we going to do with ourselves? It just won't be the same without a 3 a.m. postgame autopsy.

    We're only six games into the 2008 Boston baseball playoffs and already the Sox tortured New England with post-midnight madness and extra, extra innings. Dating to 1999, the Red Sox have played in the last six ALCS extra-inning games.

    The Saturday night/Sunday morning special from the Trop took 5 hours 27 minutes, and included 14 pitchers who threw 433 pitches.

    TBS reported that Terry Francona went through a 72-piece box of bubblegum during Game 2.

  • What else can be said about Jonathan Papelbon, who is up to 22 career scoreless innings in 14 postseason appearances? Of the 75 batters he has faced, only 14 have reached base. His presence gives the Sox a prohibitive edge any time they carry a lead into the late innings.

  • Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure we have not seen the last of Tampa's kid lefthander, David Price. The top pick in the nation (Vanderbilt) in 2007, the 6-foot-6-inch, 23-year-old flamethrower could emerge as the ultimate weapon in this series, and a potential Rays World Series. He picked up the win in Saturday/Sunday's epic, freezing Mark Kotsay on a hellacious two-strike pitch and retiring Coco Crisp on a grounder.

  • Speaking of Coco, this is starting to feel like the opposite of last year's ALCS when Francona went too long with Crisp before committing to Jacoby Ellsbury. Kid Ellsbury is scuffling mightily (0 for 6 in Game 2, 0 for his last 17 in the playoffs) at the top of the order.

  • David Ortiz hasn't hit a home run in his last 13 postseason games. This sounds strange, but there's a bunt single waiting for Big Papi any time he wants to defy the shift. Let's face it, not everybody can be Dustin Pedroia.

  • Boston College baseball coach Mik Aoki was Fernando Perez's coach at Columbia and was watching on television when Perez slid across home plate with the winning run yesterday morning. Aoki recruited Perez out of Peddie School in Hightstown, N.J.

    "He was a little under the radar in high school," said Aoki. "But you could tell he was inordinately talented and he became a really good college player." Perez is only the fourth player from Columbia to make it to the bigs since Lou Gehrig retired.

  • As much as the Sox and their fans are worried about Josh Beckett, the Rays have to be feeling the same way about Scott Kazmir (11 homers over his last five starts).

  • Another playoff game, another three-hit game for Kevin Youkilis. Youk carries a nine-game ALCS hitting streak into today's action. Truly amazing.

  • Do not underestimate the residue of hard feelings in the wake of Francona hitting for Jason Varitek a second time in these playoffs. Tito lifted Varitek for J.D. Drew against Dan Wheeler in the ninth inning of Game 2. It's refreshingly bold given Tito's reputation at a "player's manager" and it makes good sense, but be assured the captain sees this as an act of abject betrayal.

  • The Trop was sold out for both games - 35,001 and 34,904. Fenway's number will be higher. The Sox were closing in on 40,000 in the Division Series (the Sox' postseason attendance is higher because there are virtually no comps).

  • The Rays must be pretty good if they can do without a 20-homer guy (Eric Hinske) on their postseason roster. Hinske may be a one-tool guy now, but he'd be more of a threat at the plate than Gabe Gross.

  • Not enough can be made of Wheeler's job (3 1/3 innings, four strikeouts) in Game 2.

  • Pass go and collect $200 if you remember Chad Bradford pitching two playoff games for the Red Sox in 2005.

  • The Red Sox are clutch. In six postseason games, they have scored 18 (of 28) runs after two outs.

  • Love to see Sox pitching coach John Farrell fight for his guy in the 11th inning of Game 2. Ancient Mike Timlin was getting squeezed by plate umpire Sam Holbrook and Farrell backed up his pitcher for all the world to see.

  • What's not to love about Rays manager Joe Maddon? He lets Carlos Peña hit on 3 and 0 with two men aboard (didn't work), references "Seabiscuit" in a postseason news conference, and agrees when he hears Ortiz remark that Tampa players had a "different look" on their faces during Game 1.

  • Loved the image of Rob Schneider on the videoboard at the Trop, telling the Rays, "You can do it!" in his best "Waterboy" voice.

  • Watching Game 2 of the NLCS, I noticed Manny Ramírez taking second base without drawing a throw in the last innings of the Dodgers' loss to the Phillies.

    In these instances, the play is officially registered as "defensive indifference" rather than a stolen base. It seemed perfect that Manny would be involved in a play termed "defensive indifference." How about "offensive indifference"? How about "indifference squared"? That's a whole lot of indifference for one play.

    On a related Manny note, imagine Manny playing against the Red Sox in the World Series and collecting a winner's and a loser's share in the same Fall Classic?

    Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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