Monday, October 6, 2008

Ray Pride Part VIII - Divisional Series Champs

The Rays have punched their card to the 2008 American League Championship series, taking care of the White Sox in 4 games. The Rays won this series in convincing fashion putting up 6 runs in each of their 3 victories. In total, the Rays scored an average of 5.25 runs per game while allowing 3.25.

The Rays bullpen was especially sharp, going 11 2/3 innings allowing only a single run. This run was especially dominant as the Rays bullpen allowed only 6 hits, and 2 walks while striking out 13.

It is also important to note that the Rays continued their slick fielding. Despite being an extremely youth club, they made zero errors while registering 3 double plays.

In addition to outstanding bullpen support, the Rays had individual heroes for each game. In the first game, Evan Longoria took care of business slugging two home runs driving in 3 of the Rays 6 runs.

The second game saw Akinori Iwamura take over as the teams star. His timely two run home run gave the Rays the lead in the 5th inning and the club never looked back.

Despite a loss in the third game of the series, Tampa Bay could feel confident sleeping in their hotel rooms. BJ Upton, who was 1 for 9 with 3 strikeouts and zero walks through the first two games began to come alive. Despite Upton striking out twice in 5 at bats, he launched the first post season home run of what should be a very impressive career. Upton's home run in the 7th inning of game 3 set the tone for the Rays enter game 4 of the series.

BJ took the torch, and sprinted with it. The Rays got off to an early lead due to Upton's home run in both the first and third innings. While Carlos Pena certainly did his part, it was Upton's lead which had the Rays take control of the deciding game in Chicago.

In addition to this, starter Andy Sonnanstine gave the Rays more then they could have asked for. His 5 2/3 innings of work kept the White Sox off balanced and unable to string together a serious rally.

Looking further, we can see that the Rays were far and away the more dominant team. Despite the White Sox reputation of being long ball hitters, the Rays smacked an additional 2 home runs in the series (and 7 additional extra base hits). The Rays were also a slightly more patient team, despite having a roster of predominantly first timers to the post season.


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