I’ve followed this game for a long time and more and more, I am convinced there is a baseball god. He is not a deity but a mystical being who controls certain games and drives you nuts. Remember that line drive that was just foul by inches with the winning run on third. That was the work of the baseball god.
We shift our focus to the recent Yankee-Rays four-game series in the Bronx. The Rays are going in looking for three wins at a minimum as they look to improve their sub-.500 record against the American League East. It would seem that they could do some damage against the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers are a train wreck. Their six through nine guys in the batting order couldn’t have gotten in Yankee Stadium in the good years without purchasing a ticket. They have nearly $100 Million on the DL and tried to replace Derek Jeter with Reid Brignac. It was an opportunity for the Rays, but the end result was just plenty of frustration.
The Rays win the first game 8-3 with good pitching, defense and offense. So far, so good. But in the second game, the Rays hitters think it is 2012 and leave everyone except the bullpen catcher in scoring position as they lose 6-3.
We’re now at the key third game and a must win for Rays. The Rays jump out to a 1-run lead and Alex Colome is cruising. However, in the third inning, Gardner hits a ground ball to Loney and Colome tries to catch the ensuing toss while finding the bag. It doesn’t work. Then, Ichiro hits the ball to Loney who tries to throw to second while retreating to first. Once again, no luck. Next, Travis Hafter gets an infield single. Try and say Travis Hafner and infield single in the same sentence. People will laugh at you. It should have been three outs. Instead, two singles later, the Rays are down 3-1 and the baseball god is smiling.
In the 7th Joel Peralta, the Rays version of “Everyday Eddie Guardado”, enters the game to take out the middle of the Yankees order. Peralta has been the most reliable member of the bullpen but today he can’t find the plate and four batters later the bases are loaded. Peralta departs in favor of Jake McGee. McGee is a one trick pony with an awesome fastball and everyone coming to the plate is going to be, as Bobby Murcer used to say, “sittin dead red”. McGee walks the second hitter, some kid that nobody has heard of, and it’s 5-4. This brings to the plate pinch hitter Vernon Wells. Wells, who lost his job to the kid nobody has heard of, is back to his day job as the poster boy for bad contracts. He promptly lines a double off the wall and suddenly it’s 7-5 and the Rays players are on their cell phones trying to make dinner reservations at Smith and Wollensky’s.
The final game is a direct opposite of Saturday. Rays win 5-3, Loney is the hero and Peralta and McGee put down the Yanks in order in the 7th and 8th. The Rays split the series. They should have won 3 out of 4. Don’t tell me there isn’t a baseball god.