The Padres would like someone else to pay Jake Peavy. Gary Sheffield’s got to pay Scott Boras. The Milwaukee Brewers would like to pay CC Sabathia (dearly). The Red Sox (some of ‘em, anyway) voted to pay Manny Ramirez a partial playoff share. And with tonight’s ALCS Game 6 looming, the SF Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins suggests the Rays might pay a hefty price for Joe Maddon yanking Scott Kazmir after “only” 111 pitches Thursday night (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
Maddone removed a starting pitcher, Scott Kazmir, when he was absolutely cruising to victory: six innings, two hits, only 111 pitches (if you think that’s a lot, take this fresh pair of eyeglasses, a dandy new pen and a slide rule, on me). True, Kazmir’s controversial start was forged partly on the fact that he invariably requires bullpen help, and the off-day could restore order if the Rays went down. But Maddon, like so many managers, forgot to actually watch the game. Kazmir’s last inning featured emphatic strikeouts of Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay. So he stays. No other evidence required … Who didn’t like the Rays’ chances when Kazmir blew a high fastball past David Ortiz in the first inning? The Rays figured they owned him at that point, which explains why Maddon gambled on a right-hander, Grant Balfour, against Ortiz with a 7-1 lead in the seventh. Once that three-run homer left the yard, the air became thick with the memory of a thousand Boston comebacks … Meanwhile, Evan Longoria prays he won’t regret his one-hop throw to first base in the ninth, extending a rally that eventually ended the game. True, he was throwing across his body, but for Longoria, it was an incomprehensible mistake. It was Dennis Eckersley walking Mike Davis ahead of Kirk Gibson, or the elegant Willie Davis misplaying consecutive fly balls in the ’66 World Series … We still like the Rays, and in that poor excuse of a baseball town, they need to close it out. If they become the team that choked away the ALCS, they’re right back to dreadful attendance, a shameful ballpark and realistic talk of a move elsewhere.