It's often said that the baseball season is not a sprint, but a marathon. It's best to remember that saying during games like this one.
Jon Garland spotted the D-Rays an early lead after an inconsistent first inning that included a HR, a HBP, and 3 singles. In truth, he didn't pitch as poorly as the scoreboard showed after one frame, but the Rays hit some good pitches, crushed a mistake, and took advantage of the free baserunner.
Garland looked like he had settled down with quick 2nd and 3rd innings, but a leadoff triple by Jorge Cantu in the 4th gave the Rays a 4-run lead that looked like it might hold up. Now, normally, a 4-run lead by the Devil Rays doesn't have me sweating all that much, but by then the Sox had already stranded 4 runners including leadoff double that never even advanced to third. It just didn't appear to be the Sox night.
Front and center in the Sox offensive woes on the night was Scott Podsednik. He looked like pre-July-'05 Podsednik the last two games, but that must have been a mirage. Pods' 0-5 night included 4 strikeouts and no productive outs. Usually, I wouldn't bring up productive outs, but Pods had 2 opportunites to help get the Sox an easy run by just making the right type of outs, and he could even do that. I fully expect to see Ross Gload, who has been taking extra work in the outfield, start in LF tomorrow.
Garland's outing reminded me of his August 4th start against the Blue Jays. It was the kind of outing that you expect from your ace. Or it was the salvaging of what looked to be a poor outing that you'd expect from an ace. After digging himself a hole, he just kept putting zeros and waiting for the offense to at least take him off the hook for the loss.
Jermaine Dye didn't hit any homeruns and had 0 RBI on the night, yet he still found a way to make a huge impact. He had two stolen bases to get himself into scoring position in the late innings, and on both occasions he scored just pitches later. In the seventh, Jorge Cantu gave his best Tony Graffanino impression letting an routine dribbler go between his legs to score Dye from second. Just like in the playoffs, Tadahito Iguchi followed with key HR, but this one was an inning later. Dye's SB in the 8th was followed immediately by a line-drive single by Jim Thome, who made his return to the line-up after missing the last 5 games with a tight hamstring, plating the eventual winning run.
For the second time in a week, there was a rarely (if ever) seen game-ender. This time the Sox were on the winning end, with Rocco Baldelli hitting into a 9-3-6 DP to close the game out.
With Ben Zobrist at first, Baldelli lined out to deep right field. Zobrist was off on the pitch, and had rounded second base when Dye caught the ball. Dye appeared to forget about the runner for a second, but rocketed the ball back in to Konerko to just miss the force at first base. After Zobrist was called safe at first, Konerko threw to Uribe at second for the appeal. Second base umpire Joe West ruled that Zobrist never retagged second after over-running the bag, calling him out to end the game.