2008 ALCS: The morning after game 7

First of all, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays on your World Series berth. You definitely outplayed us last night, and deserve the chance to crown this magical season with the championship trophy. You have outperformed everyone’s expectations, including mine, and I am very happy for your organization and fans to taste this kind of success after so many years of just existing.

I’m still proud of our guys, BTW. The Red Sox were pretty beaten up this year, but they played hard and showed some real mettle by pushing this series to seven games. I still gotta think that if Josh Beckett, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell and had been healthy, we’re going to Philadelphia. No excuses, though; we were outpitched and outhit in this ALCS. I won’t say that their defense or baserunning or “clutchness” was better, because they weren’t.

Jon Lester pitched very well, just not well enough. I was mad that he left yet another cutter over the plate to Willy Aybar, though. How many home runs can we give them and still expect to win the series?

I was most frustrated with the Red Sox offense last night, which produced only two hits against Rays starter Matt Garza. Yeah, he’s got a great fastball, but he couldn’t throw that curveball for a strike if his life depended on it. Garza pitched as well as he did by locating his fastball inside and outside and keeping it down, for the most part. He got some good defense behind him on some key balls in play, as well. With Garza only throwing the fastball for strikes, why couldn’t our boys time the heater and slap it opposite field? Not to take away from Garza, but last night’s game exposed the lack of fastball hitting on this club, and perhaps it should be addressed this offseason. Think about it: J.D. Drew doesn’t really fare well against hard throwers; neither does Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury or Jed Lowrie.

The other thing that was painfully apparent last night is that the Sox don’t have a right-handed outfielder who can platoon/come off the bench. You gotta pinch-hit for Drew in that 8th inning bases loaded situation, but who can Tito go to? Since Drew and Ellsbury both scuffle against lefties, you gotta have an option off the bench for a key situation like that. Francona didn’t have one. Instead he had David Ross and Kevin Cash.

Rookie David Price was composed and stayed within himself, even in that kind of pressure situation. Very impressive, not to mention that 96-97 mph fastball and hard 87-89 mph slider. He’s like a left-handed Francisco Rodriguez.

Okay, one day to mourn and we’ll get on this offseason. A few important questions to answer right off the bat, as well as some interesting free agent options to address. Coming soon, same bat time, same bat channel.

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