Behind enemy lines

Our look at what others are saying about the Red Sox-Rays matchup.

  • The Tampa Tribune’s Marc Lancaster says Carlos Pena and the Rays have fond memories of their most recent previous visit to Fenway:

    The last time [Pena] stood before his locker in that room addressing the media throngs, he had cracked a three-run homer in the 14th inning to give the Rays an improbable series win in Boston. A night earlier, on Sept. 9, Dan Johnson’s off-the-plane ninth-inning homer had dealt the Red Sox another staggering blow.

    “I was actually thinking about that today,” Pena said. “Man, Dan Johnson, what a home run that was. It was huge. It was like that big knockout punch from the Cinderella Man. He landed a punch on the unbeatable Ivan Drago.”

    It’s a fair analogy, but the main point one could take away from this: Pena digs boxing movies. He’d better hope the Rays aren’t Apollo Creed.

  • Matt Garza, the Rays’ starter this afternoon, says he shouldn’t necessarily be considered the underdog against Sox ace Jon Lester:

    “Lester’s had a great year this year,” Garza said. “He’s been throwing the crap out of the ball. But my year wasn’t that bad, either, you know? You’re kind of downplaying me.

    “Everybody’s hyping up Lester. Yeah, he’s a great pitcher, he’s had a lot of success this year. But myself, on the road, I’ve had a lot of success, too, and especially against Boston I’ve had a lot of success. So I’m going to go in confident and see what happens after nine.”

    Of course, as the Trib notes, Garza is actually revising history somewhat — he’s better at home (7-3, 2.89 ERA) than on the road (4-6, 4.53) — though his three best starts came away from the Trop.

  • Tribune columnist Martin Fennelly, who sentimentally rehashes Saturday’s epic victory, says says Fernando Perez, who scored the winning run, was the Rays’ latest “hero from nowhere”:

    It was a game the Rays needed, and Perez knew it as he Usain Bolted from third base in the predawn hours. Ninety feet later, with a slide and a resounding slap of home plate, the season lived. Perez got a bloody lip on the play – from being tackled in the celebration.

    “Last night, do you believe it?” Carlos Pena said Sunday afternoon in the visitors clubhouse at Fenway Park. “… I don’t even know how my heart can take it anymore.”

    It’s a team with heart to spare.

    And today, it’s up to Lester to drive a stake right through it.

  • Elsewhere: CNNSI’s John Donovan says the Rays have their work cut out for them . . . Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star says the Red Sox are no longer invincible . . . Yahoo! has a detailed and interesting Inside Edge scouting breakdown of both teams.
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