Carl Crawford steals six bases

Rays’ outfielder Carl Crawford was a one-man wrecking crew in Tampa’s 5-3 win over the Red Sox on Sunday, going 4 for 4 with two runs scored an RBI and oh yeah, six stolen bases. Crawford tied a modern MLB record and joined Eric Young, Otis Nixon and Eddie Collins as the only players in baseball history to ever steal six bases.

Everybody in the building seemed to know what was going on. That is, except Crawford, who was aware of how many steals he had but had no clue that just three other players had accomplished the same since 1900.

“I found that out late. I wish I had known during the game,” said Crawford, who got No. 6 in the eighth inning of the Rays’ 5-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

“I probably would have broken it if I knew. I’d have definitely tried,” he added. “I didn’t even try. I don’t know if that will ever happen again.”

“He’s good,” catcher Jason Varitek agreed, “and he’s got the speed to go along with it.”

If you watched the game or saw the highlights, you would know that Varitek never even had a chance to gun down Crawford on any of his steal attempts. Brad Penny didn’t do a good enough job holding him on and even when Varitek did get off a throw it was either nowhere near the bag (see his first attempt) or dead on, but seconds behind Crawford’s slide. Crawford’s day was truly an impressive feat.

And I know I’m just throwing salt in the wounds of BoSox fans, but how bad is Julio Lugo? He can’t make even the most routine plays at short and he’s brutal offensively. Outside of speed and a veteran presence in the clubhouse, he brings little to the table, yet is eating $9 million in salary this season.

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What’s wrong with Josh Beckett?

I had the opportunity to watch the Red Sox-Rays game last night in what was supposed to be a great pitcher’s duel between Josh Beckett and Matt Garza. What it turned out to be was a Boston beat down, as Tampa Bay routed the BoSox 13-0 thanks to Garza’s near perfect game. (Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield single off Garza in the seventh ended his bid for a perfect game.)

Outside of Garza’s flirtation with perfection, one of the storylines was Beckett, who allowed seven runs on 10 hits in just 4.2 innings of work. He also allowed eight runs in his previous start, which means he has now surrendered seven or more runs in consecutive starts for just the second time in his career.

What was strange about his performance was that it wasn’t just another bad outing. Beckett was actually cruising until he got into trouble in the third, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced while also striking out four. He was throwing the ball hard, his curve was sharp and he had great command. It really looked like he was going to have one of those outings where you talk about him afterwards as being one of the best aces in baseball.

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Rays winning despite not having large payroll

With their 13-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALCS, the Tampa Bay Rays are sitting just one win away from heading to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. And as John Romano of The St. Petersburg Times writes, the Rays are beating a team with a much larger payroll, and more resources at their disposal.

Tampa Bay RaysFor, in Tampa Bay, this season is beginning to look like sweet payback after all the years of ridicule. This series is quickly turning into validation after putting up with a lifetime of smug and an earful of snide comments.

The Rays are not just a hot team. And they are not a fluke. What they appear to be is deeper and more well-rounded than Boston. That’s remarkable considering the disparity in resources.

When the Red Sox decided to invest in a Japanese player in 2007, they spent $103-million on Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Rays spent about $12-million on Aki Iwamura.

When the Red Sox went looking for a bat in the free agent market in ’07, they signed J.D. Drew to a $70-million contract. That same winter, the Rays spent $800,000 on Red Sox castoff Carlos Pena.
When they needed help this summer, the Red Sox brought in Jason Bay, Mark Kotsay and Paul Byrd in various deals. The Rays acquired Chad Bradford.

So if Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is a genius with a $137-million payroll, what does that make Friedman and his $43-million allowance?

In other words, if the Red Sox lose, they will have no excuses.

Just the knowledge that they were beaten by a team that appears intent on making history.

The Rays follow the 2007 Rockies as examples of how payroll means noting in the postseason. And apparently experience is starting to mean less and less too, because this is one of the youngest rosters in the league. It’s amazing to watch this series and note that the Red Sox appear to be no match for the Rays. Think about that for a second. The mighty Red Sox, can’t handle a Rays team that many predicted to finish last in the AL East for the whatever-straight year. Amazing.

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