Ouch! Rays have to return to the Trop.

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Well, doesn't this suck?

Had my whole weekend planned out without having to be near a TV to watch the Rays. For a couple hours last night, it certainly looked as if the plan would fall into place. The fellas and I were at the Sports Bar in Bay Pines and in the fifth and sixth innings we were shooting the shit, full of mirth and revelry, only half-watching the game. It was a Rays crowd; any Sox fans were keeping a very low profile. It was sunny inside. Birds were chirping.

Then the TV got our attention — real quick.

Seven-zip. Seven-four. Eh. When it got to 7-6, I just knew in my gut that the Red Sox would win it. (8-7, in case you just got out of a Turkish prison.) Times columnist Gary Shelton wrote today that the loss is just a speed bump. Not to worry.

I'm worried. This loss had that doomy feel.

My friend and colleague Domestic Joe laid out a silver lining: Without this loss, the Rays would've taken on Philadelphia without dealing with much adversity ...

Yeah, even Joe thinks it's thin.

I certainly hope that the St. Pete kids are as unruffled as they say they are: Yeah, it stings, but it's just one loss, that sorta thing. More than anything, they gotta play loose on Saturday.

My baseball IQ has tripled this season, but I'm far from a strategist. So the following is not to second guess Joe Maddon, who's made a season's worth of terrific decisions. But me and the fellas, we were saying that he should've run Kazmir out there in the eighth, just to see if he was still hot. Instead, the Sox treated Grant Balfour like a pinata.

A little while later, we were imploring Joe to pull Dan Wheeler; it wasn't just his glove that was shaking. When he was getting knocked around by left-handed batters, we were hollering for him to put in J.P. Howell. Right as David Ortiz came up would've been nice.

So, you see, this is not second-guessing. We were on-the-spot disputing.

But I love Joe. And I'm not gonna dog him. I just hope he gets his mojo back by Saturday.

Oh, and isn't it ironic? One of the reasons Joe pitched Kazmir last night was because the leftie has been erratic all season, so if he had to be pulled early, the bullpen was at full strength. As per usual, Kaz looked a little shaky early, but found his groove and threw two-hit ball. Then when the bullpen took over to mop up, everything went to hell.

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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