In what was an unconventional playoff game, the Boston Red Sox eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 3-1 in Tampa. Boston joins the Los Angeles Dodgers as 2 of the 4 teams to make it to the next round of the postseason. For Boston this is the first time they made it to the ALCS since 2008 and for the Dodgers its the first time they have moved on to the NLCS since 2009.
What makes this Red Sox victory so unconventional? Perhaps the fact that Rays skipper Joe Maddon used 9 pitchers in this game, setting a postseason record for most pitchers used in one game. This was no extra inning game either, this was your regular 9 inning affair. It was known that Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would get a short leash. Hellickson threw a perfect 1st inning but in the 2nd he gave up a hit and walked 2 men with no outs leading to his exit. From there Maddon had put together an interesting carousel of pitchers including starter Matt Moore.
Boston starter Jake Peavy went 5 2/3 innings giving up 5 hits, 1 earned run and striking out 3. He did his job and the bullpen did theirs, including a wonderful performance by Craig Breslow who many Red Sox players say he was the game MVP for keeping the Sox in a close game having been down by 1. Red Sox turned in a small rally in the 7th and get the go ahead run off a wild pitch from Joel Peralta. Tazawa and Sox closer Uehara threw brilliantly as they have done all year to seal a spot in the ALCS for the Boston Red Sox.
There are a few notable things in this series. Boston took 8 walks and gave up zero in game 4 of the ALDS. The bullpen was excellent. Shane Victorino was hit 4 times tying a postseason record. Jacoby Ellsbury went 9 for 18 including 4 stolen bases and David Ortiz went 5 for 13 and clubbed 2 home runs. All the means to fend off a hungry Tampa Bay Rays ball club.
The Boston Red Sox will meet the winner of Fridays game 5 winner between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
Tomorrow marks the start of the second half of the baseball season. Midway through the hot blistering summer, this is where teams prove they are for real and other teams start to fade. The trade deadline is coming up and teams look to scramble around to add any additional pieces they need to succeed.
One division I’m really looking forward to watching in the second half is the AL East. It’s not just a 2 team race anymore. Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, and the Yankees are all within 6 games of each other and all have 51 or more wins. The Blue Jays sit at the bottom with a 45-49 record and 11.5 games back. But heck, with the expectations they had coming into the season and a healthy Jose Reyes now, they could land anywhere in that division.
It appears as if the Yankees may be buying and selling, Red Sox could be buyers, Rays will likely rely within and the Blue Jays are possible buyers. The Orioles have already acquired an arm in Scott Feldman and are making more moves.
One thing for sure is the Baltimore Orioles just called up outfielder Henry Urrutia from Triple A Norfolk.
I don’t know a whole lot about this 26 year old Cuban outfielder but what I do know is that he is hitting. Urrutia was signed last season for under 800,000 dollars and after some visa issues he made his debut this year. Starting 52 games in Double A Bowie and 15 games at Triple A Norfolk. Combing the two, he is hitting a .365/.427/.531 slash line with a .958 OPS. He has 7 homeruns (all at AA), also is drawing walking and playing great defense. He hasn’t committed any errors in the outfield and has 8 assists.
The Orioles figure they have seen enough in Henry Urrutia and decided to solve their DH woes by calling up one of their own. My guess is he’ll see some time at DH and some time in LF and RF as well to give Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis some days off in the field. And why not? It’s worth a shot.
The Orioles are making moves and making them early.