ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's Game Two of the World Series from Tropicana Field and the Rays need James "Big Game" Shields to come through for them so they don't head to Philly in an 0-2 hole. I think that would mean they don't play here again this season. A bunch of us here think Shields is a pretty anonymous guy to have such a bombastic nickname. He better live up to it tonight.
There's no shortage of fan enthusiasm here despite last night's 3-2 loss. The cowbells and making their usual racket all over the yard. About 45 minutes ago, four women barged into the media workroom screeching "Go Rays" and ringing their bells. Their fake blue mohawks gave them away even more than their Rays' jerseys. Good omen for the Rays: Tonight is the 15th anniversary of Joe Carter's home run that beat the Phillies in Toronto in 1993.
Let's see if the Phillies' pitching or defense spring a leak tonight. Maybe we had a preview during Charlie Manuel's pregame press conference, when water started running out of a ceiling pipe and landing just behind where Manuel was sitting at the dais. Don't know about this place. Lots of cosmetics and color around but the infrastructure in the basement leaves a lot to be desired.
It's 23 years old and the Rays are pushing for a 34,000-seat retractable roof park on the water about a mile away. They need it and maybe this series will do for them what Seattle's 1995 playoff run did to get Safeco Field for the Mariners.
So now that I've blathered on, it's time for tonight's starting lineups:
Rollins, ss Iwamura, 2b
Werth, rf Upton, cf
Utley, 2b Pena, 1b
Howard, 1b Longoria, 3b
Burrell, lf Crawford, lf
Victorino, cf Floyd, dh
Dobbs, dh Navarro, c
Feliz, 3b Baldelli, rf
Ruiz, c Bartlett, ss
Myers, p Shields, p
In the end: The Series is all even at 1-1 as David Price goes the final 2 1/3 innings for the Rays to finish a 4-2 win. Eric Bruntlett's pinch homer in the eighth and a run-scoring error in the ninth account for the Philly runs. The Phillies are 1 for 28 in the series in RSP situations and have left 22 on. That won't cut it. Charlie Manuel, left, better find his guys' hitting shoes when they get home.
Mid-7th: David Price comes in to strike out Howard and leave two runners on and keep it 4-0. The Phillies are 1-12 RSP tonight with 10 LOBs. For those scoring at home, that's 1-25 with 21 LOBs. You would hate those stats in Florida in March, let alone October. Um, not to gloat, but didn't I say their problem is that they're an all-or-nothing offense?
End-6th: It's looking like we're going to Philly tied. The Rays still lead, 4-0, and since the Phillies can't do anything with runners on base, I'm hard-pressed to see them getting four runs in this one. Shields went 5 2/3 innings for Tampa; Myers has gone six for the Phils and has retired eight of the last nine.
End-4th: The Rays have a 4-0 lead as they added another run in the fourth on Jason Bartlett's nifty squeeze, right. But by far the No. 1 storyline emerging here is the Phillies' lack of clutch hitting. Philly was 0-13 RSP in Game One (worst in Series history) and was 0 for 6 in the first three innings tonight. The Phillies then went 1-3 in the fourth (Victorino's infield single snapped the string even though Joe Buck drew howls in the press box for ignoring it until somebody finally must have said something in his ear). So Philly is 1 for 9 tonight and 1 for 22 in the series, leaving 16 men on base in 13 at-bats. Positives for the Phils: A single and a double for Howard in two at-bats
And now loud, obnoxious guy is giving away the 46-inch HD TV. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
End-2nd: The Rays add another to make it 3-0 but plate umpire Kerwin Danley clearly has no clue. He rang up Rocco Baldelli on what was clearly a swinging strike on a full-count pitch. Even gave you the standard raised right fist. Then he goes to Fieldin Culbreth at first for an appeal? And it's ruled no swing. And where was Charlie Manuel to go beserk about that? Upton's second single scored Navarro to make it 3-0 but Werth redeemed himself for his error by gunning down Baldelli at the plate to end the inning.
End-1st: Wow. The Phillies' pitching and defense DID spring a leak. That's odd. Myers gave up two runs in the first (both scored on groundouts). The inning was set up by Iwamura's leadoff walk and an Upton single that was booted by Werth in right for an error. And we're all howling about Tim McCarver in the press box. Dude, it was an error. The guy booted the ball. Stop blaming the turf.
The Rays have this loudmouth in-game host who needs to be muzzled. Reminds me of that lout who used to do Sabres and Bandits games at the arena. This guy is shilling for 2009 season tickets and the fact they're giving away a TV tonight. What is this? It's MLB's premier event. It's not a Rays game in front of 9,432 in the middle of May. That's an embarrassment. Can't believe MLB didn't put a stop to this.
(Hmmm. Just re-read that post. I'm not really in that foul of a mood. Well-fed. Maybe losing the whole post into cyberlock the first time is the issue. Onward).
(Photos: Associated Press)