Spent some time over in the Tampa clubhouse after the game. They’ve scored one run over the first two games of the series but there was hardly any panic. A note on the clubhouse bulletin board reminded the players to “wear your favorite hockey jersey” on the flight to Toronto on Sunday night.
Loose bunch, these Rays. And why not? They have the best record in baseball and a five-game lead in the division. As Joe Maddon and Carl Crawford said, they expected the Red Sox to be this good. That four-game sweep at Fenway Park in April was the product of catching the Sox at the right time.
“They just seem to have a little more giddy-up about them, a little more fire to them. It seemed like they were down early in the season and now they’re playing with a little more fire,” Crawford said.
“They have good players over there. It’s a talented team. They’re just playing better now. The way Ortiz is swinging the bat; he helps make everybody else better because that lineup gets a lot deeper. I figured they would be right there. They always are.”
(By the way, the whole phony controversy about Ortiz’s slow home-run trot on Tuesday hardy registered in the Tampa Bay clubhouse. They call him Big Papi, too.)
As for the Sox, they’ve won four straight, seven of eight, 15 of 22 and are now 22-12 since April 20 when the Rays left town. The Sox now have 26 wins. Care to guess how many the Yankees have? Yes, 26.
Over the last seven games, Sox starters are 6-1 with a 1.44 ERA. Opponents are hitting .173 against them. Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz, meanwhile, are the prime candidates for AL Player of the Month while Beltre is making everybody who mocked the idea of run prevention duck for cover.
John Lackey vs. Matt Garza tomorrow. Thanks for reading today and check back for more tomorrow.