Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays 2008 ALCS

After 5 hours and 27 minutes and 11 innings of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays emerged victorious to even up of their best-of-7 ALCS at 1-1 with the Boston Red Sox. It was a game that was not dominated by the starting pitchers for both teams but rather the bats, the Red Sox bullpen and Dan Wheeler.

Yesterday I wrote that if Josh Beckett could morph into October Josh Beckett things would be looking much better for the Red Sox heading back to Fenway Park. And if you didn’t see the game last night, Beckett was once again not October Beckett on the mound.  While I don’t think he’s healthy because his velocity is down, Beckett says he’s healthy and it was poor execution and pitch selection that did him in last night.

“I’m fine,” Beckett said as he packed for an early-morning flight home. “It’s very frustrating when you get eight runs in the game (and can’t win). That’s the frustrating thing.”

“That would be a good question for Tito. I don’t have an answer for that. I wanted to go back out there. I still felt good – given the circumstances, I guess, as good as you can feel.

“I would have had to understand some reason if I wouldn’t have been sent back out there . . . You blow a (expletive) lead every time you get one . . . it makes it hard on the manager.”

Even pitching coach John Farrell agreed with Beckett’s assessment of himself.

I still don’t buy it that he’s fully healthy but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t risk an injury to him.

You have to be happy with the bat of Dustin Pedroia and the same could be said for Jason Bay. Pedroia struggled in the ALDS and had a hit in Game 1. But last night he broke out of whatever slump he was in with 2 solo home runs and 3 hits on the night. Bay had a big night as well as he had another 3 hits and knocked in 4 runs. Not too shabby for a guy who’s never played in the postseason.

Despite the loss last night, things are still looking good for the Red Sox. They head back to Fenway Park tied at 1 with the Rays. Yes it would have been much nicer to head back to Fenway with a 2-0 lead but given the Rays 35-2 record at home with a crowd over 30,000 this season and the Red Sox 1-8 record at Tropicana Field during the regular season, things really couldn’t be looking better.

They have their ace of ’08 on the mound in Jon Lester and all he’s done in two starts in this postseason is throw 14 innings without allowing an earned run (he’s given up 1 unearned run). And you can’t forget about Lester’s numbers at Fenway Park this season. He was 11-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 starts. He was also 3-0 against the Rays with 0.90 ERA at the Fens. I definitely like our chances of a win in Game 3 on Monday afternoon.

Terry Francona tweaked the lineup for Game 2 with Scott Kazmir on the mound.

The Red Sox veterans are showing the young players how to succeeed.

Rays fans witnessed something very special last night.

Kevin Cash said it would have taken a perfect throw to nail the speedy Fernando Perez at home plate.

After a great Game 1 in the ALDS, Evan Longoria had been slumping. That all changed last night.

Mike Timlin took the blame for last night’s loss but I think some of it can be placed on the tight strike zone of the home plate umpire.

Scott Kazmir once again struggled in the 1st inning against the Red Sox.

Jonathan Papelbon threw away his record-breaking ball after Game 1.

Dan Wheeler was outstanding in keeping the Rays in the game last night.

John Papelbon is very proud of his son, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Dan Roche of WBZ in Boston offers up his thoughts on Game 2.

Michael Berger of has a look at Dustin Pedroia’s postseason stats.

Berger also has an updated look at the Red Sox in 1-run games this season.

Alex Speier of has some ALCS Game 2 postgame notes.

The Boston Globe scribes have their postgame video analysis.

Jacoby Ellsbury checked in over at his postseason blog after the Game 2 loss.

For more playoff slices of Boston Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Hartford Courant and Providence Journal websites.

And if you must see what the enemy papers are saying you can check out the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times websites.