The Sox started ALDS Game 2 against the Rays in encouraging fashion. After the 1st inning ended, I felt the same way I did after the top of the 3rd in Game 1--which should have been my first warning. The Sox had a 2-0 lead after the 1st, they had hit well, moved runners and used plate patience, making young Scott Kazmir throw something like 40 pitches. They left the bases loaded, but it seemed like a sign of good things to come. In the bottom half of the first Buehrle looked like his usual self, working fast and not wasting pitches.
But, the Rays fought back, and even though the Sox kept putting guys on base--in every inning but one, and they had two men on bases in three separate innings--they couldn't grind out another run against Kazmir, or Balfour, or J.P. Howell or even more interesting-than-good submariner Chad Bradford. Balfour and Howell in particular were nasty in getting out of jams, and made me wonder if the Rays have some kind of training program that encourages their pitchers to jabber to themselves on the mound--in any case, it seems to work. Sox hitters argued some called strikes, but honestly, they just seemed fooled by some good breaking pitches.
Buehrle toughed it out, minimizing a 2nd inning attack by the Rays by closing out the inning with a double play and yielding only one run. Later though, he gave up a 2-run, opposite-field HR to lefty Akinori Iwamura (nice to at least someone from Japan doing well in the postseason). It was almost more a nice piece of hitting by Iwamura than it was a real mistake by Buehrle.
The Rays broke it open in the 8th, with Buehrle still in and under 100 pitches, but getting ineffective. I know Ozzie wanted to wait until the last possible moment to go to the pen, but in this instance, Buehrle quickly gave up a triple and a single to score a run. Dotel and Thornton couldn't stop the bleeding before the Rays worked up the eventual final score, 6-2.
So, the Sox are now down 0-2 and headed back to The Cell. After failing to steal Game 1, and missing a pretty good chance to take Game 2, it will be Danks vs. Matt Garza in Game 3 tomorrow. Garza is talented, but can be had when he's not pitching in the dome. I don't know how often Sox fans want to resort to the black out (is it the next Rally Monkey?), but in any case, tomorrow's big game would be a great time for some Southside energy.
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