The Rays had a chance to throw a rager on the hallowed grass of the defending world champions last night, only to watch it slip away with just seven outs to go. Now, they must face a team with a recent history of making great comebacks whose bats have finally come to life. A 3-2 series lead has never looked so much like a deficit as it must to the young Rays.
Big Papi said after game one he saw fear in the eyes of the Rays. For the next three games, the Rays showed no signs of fear. But on the verge of heading to their first World Series, one swing of Papi’s bat filled reminded the Rays just what they were up against. His no-doubter with two on in the seventh planted the seed of doubt in the minds of the Rays. And it grew. The bullpen melted. The Sox smelled blood and they attacked. When the dust settled, the Red Sox bats were back, Joe Maddon choked in the ninth, and the series is headed south to the Trop.
Along with the change in venue comes a change in momentum and pressure. The prematurely coronated “Big Game” James Shields is about to find out what a big game really is. And the rest of the Rays, whose baserunning and fielding mistakes have been completely overlooked by the cheerleading commentators, will truly be tested this weekend.
The pendulum has swung back in favor of the Red Sox. Tito’s Sox remain undefeated in ALCS elimination games. With Lester and Beckett given a shot at redemption, things are certainly looking up.