Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reeling Rays

Maybe all the attention is finally getting to them. Or, more likely, maybe the lack of a consistent power bat in their lineup is catching up. Whatever it is, the Rays - after last night's whitewashing at the hands of Cliff Lee and the Indians - have lost five games in a row and find themselves clinging to a 1-1/2 game lead over the Sox entering today's action.

We all know that this is a 162-game soap opera. That's why we love it - the ups and downs, and all that goes into riding the daily waves (that's us in the raft). When the Red Sox limped out of Tampa a couple weeks back, it was the low point of the season. The hitters couldn't hit, and the bullpen was tossing grenades at every turn and losing leads in the ugliest of fashions. Fans and geek bloggers were airing their grievances on the radio airwaves and the ol' interweb. And I'll admit that I was a bit depressed.

So what's happened in the past week or so? The Rays have hit a road bump - appropriately, on the road - and the Sox swept a good Twins team. From a mental confidence standpoint, the news that David Ortiz's wrist is in far better shape than anyone expected has also been a huge boost.

Things were going so well during the past week that the Sox went bowling and picked up a full game on the Rays. Josh Beckett held his annual "Beckett Bowl" for local-area charities Thursday night at the same time the Rays were getting pummeled 13-2 in Cleveland.

The Sox are hosting the feisty Orioles this weekend in the final series before the All-Star break, while the Rays finish out a four-game set versus the Tribe. Last night, it was Clay Buchholz making a return appearance after spending some time in Pawtucket working on a few things. Justin Masterson was sent down to work on becoming a reliever. Buchholz was admittedly nervous last night, but showed some glimpses of why the Sox' brass is so fond of him. In the end, Baltimore won 7-3 as all-around pest Brian Roberts was once again a thorn in our side. Tonight's game has Tim Wakefield going against someone named Radhames Liz. Something tells me the Sox break out the lumber tonight.

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