I have to admit that I was a little surprised when Joe Maddon took Alex Cobb out after 5 innings. Cobb had only given up 5 hits and two earned runs during his stint and had thrown 94 pitches. He still had something in the tank and the Rays were only behind by a run. However, this is the playoffs and I have learned not to question our leaders’ judgment. In came the Rays bullpen and held the Red Sox down.
Alex Torres took over in the sixth. Torres has been nothing short of sensational since joining the Rays in midseason. Seemingly lost in the Durham rotation, he was thrust into the Rays bullpen and his mid-90’s heater and great changeup have allowed him to get out hitters on both sides of the plate with amazing regularity. It was no different last night. A Jarrod Saltalamacchia groundball squirted through for a single, but nevertheless it took Torres 15 pitches to rip through the Boston lineup, with two of his outs coming via the strikeout.
Torres turned the ball over to Joel Peralta in the seventh. What would a close ballgame be like without “Everyday Joel” on the mound? Peralta throws everything but the kitchen sink at hitters and everything he can do with his splitter and curveball makes his rather pedestrian 90 mile per hour fastball quite effective. Last night it took him 13 pitches to take out Boston in a perfect seventh.
Jake McGee gets the call in the eighth and it was was hard to not nervous. McGee in a one-trick pony and that trick a 95-100 mile per hour fastball. The batter knows that and he is, as the saying goes, “sittin’ dead red”. McGee pitches wander all over the place as he walks David Ortiz and he walked Jonny Gomes intentionally later in teh inning, but he gets out of the inning unscathed. I just want to grab him by the collar and say “do you how great you could be if you had a breaking pitch?” Nevertheless, though, McGee put up a zero, and that was what real mattered.
Ironically, after all the great work put in by Torres, Peralta, and McGee, Fernando Rodney blew the save in the 9th, tying the game at 4. But that’s the way baseball goes, and the Rays know they never would have gotten as far without the middle relief corps doing their part. Thanks to Jose Lobaton, Monday night ended well. Tonight’s another night and the Rays may very well need those same four guys again. The Rays will have to hope for the same type of performance from their bullpen, only with a better finish.