The Rays ran past the Red Sox last night as the speedy Tampa Bay club burned the Red Sox on the basepaths time-and-again to all-but-end the Red Sox' playoff chances with a 5-3 win.
The biggest blow of the game came in the sixth inning, when the stolen base threat of Ben Zobrist forced John Lackey into a slide step delivery, allowing Carl Crawford to take a
perfectly painted clearly misplaced on the outside corner curveball and launch it into the seats steal four bases on it.
The fact that the Rays were getting into the Red Sox' pitchers heads with their speed was perhaps never more evident than in the seventh inning, though. After managing a leadoff single, Jason Bartlett made for second, but was caught by Victor Martnez. Still, the fear had been put into John Lackey. It could happen any time! Even now! Terrified as he was of the dreaded steal of first, Lackey realized his only chance was to allow John Jaso to put the ball in play, and hope one of his fielders could grab it. It was not to be.
Of course, with Jaso reaching first, Lackey knew his only chance to prevent yet another steal was to move him along to second with a walk.
Not even Hideki Okajima was immune to the Rays' speed. Typically a
completely ineffectual unhittable reliever, Okajima's single to Evan Longoria was a clear sign that he was taken out of he moment by the ever-present fear that even an infield single could turn into a double with this team at the plate.
Finishing the game with a total of
zero twelve steals, including five of home, the Rays showed the Red Sox that they just can't compete against the fastest team in the league, slide step or no.
This post dedicated to those who have died watching an ESPN baseball broadcast.