October 20, 2008
Here's what I'm going to remember about Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS: David Price enters the game in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox have the bases loaded and they're looking to erase a two-run deficit. J.D. Drew, a guy who knows a little something about October heroics, is at the plate.
Tropicana Field is rocking with both Rays fans chewing their nails and Red Sox fans expecting the greatest comeback yet. But does Price, who was called up in mid-September, fold with the weight of the world — or at least half of Tampa/St. Pete — on his shoulders? Does he give up the tying hit or worse, a go-ahead grand slam, putting the Rays' dream season in jeopardy?
Nope. He simply strikes out Drew on four pitches. And then when his closer-challenged team needs him in the top of the ninth, he strikes out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek after walking Jason Bay to start the inning. He gets Jed Lowrie to ground out into a forceout to end the game and there it is.
Matt Garza may have led his team into the World Series with an MVP-worthy start, but it took a rookie phenom to shut the door over four very hard final outs. Only in October.
Congrats to your American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, who are still celebrating at this late hour. Plenty of great celebration shots — yes, many of them include Jonny Gomes — coming later today on the Stew.