You surely want to get excited about the series that starts tonight between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.
You want to get hyped and break out the good snacks before settling down on the couch for a series between rivals.
You want to go through the ritual of getting mentally prepared for yet another series of insanity between to top-notch teams in the AL East.
You want to, but…
Let’s face it, the Red Sox are a long long long way from contending for the division. Heck, they have to crawl out of 4th place before they can contend for anything.
Sweeps Is Sweeps
You cannot forget the hard-to-watch destruction that was the 4-game series sweep the Rays handed to the Red Sox last month. On the one hand, you do not want to put too much emphasis on baseball in April, but you can’t discount it too much, either.
I mean, the Rays outscored the Rouge Sox in that series by a 24-9 score and dominated pretty much every facet of the game. They outhit the Sox, outpitched the Sox, and outstole the Sox.
Sadly, while that series was simply legendary, you can’t transfer those good times to this series.
The Sox are going to throw 2 of their best in this series (all due respect to Josh Beckett, he simply has not been himself lately).
Clay Buchholz (who is pitching RIGHT NOW!) and Jon Lester are having solid seasons. Their ERA’s are in the low-3’s and they are a combined 9-5 this year. They typically have good success against the Rays, which could bode ill for the good guys.
They Rays will throw Wade Davis (who deserves SERIOUS Rookie of the Year consideration) in Game 1, which is not an issue because he has pitched in many pressure-filled games this season. He will be followed by the stellar James Shields and Cy Young-esque Matt Garza.
The Sox pitching in this series might be good, but the Rays’ should be better.
The Secret? Stealing
In their series in April, the Rays stole the Red Sox blind. They took base after base with little resistance.
Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett, and BJ Upton could not be stopped. And that could be acceptable, if you are a Sox fan, if those were the only guys who were swiping bases. However, the Rays rubbed it in by having Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena take bases as well.
The way the Rays will win this series, and the Sox will lose it, is if the Rays’ stealing success continues. But if the Sox keep the Rays off of the bases and prevent them from turning singles into doubles we could see another sweep, but this time from the bad guys.
Funny, when I started this post I thought of this series as yet another ho-hum series in 2010 a la the Royals or Mariners.
But when you look at the pitching matchups, the battles between base runner, catcher, and pitcher, and the drama that is Rays/Red Sox, I find myself starting to get more and more amped up.
Game 1 might not be looking so good thus far, but jeez I am starting to feel those competitive juices flow.
The Sox may be 8 1/2 back right now, but I would love to see the Rays bury these guys by the end of the series.
Ok, I’m officially pumped.