ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Heed Yogi, please. It's over when the Red Sox get the 27th out of the fourth victory, not before.
If these guys from Tampa-St. Pete have proven anything this season, it is that they do not discourage easily, and no one should know that better than the Boston Red Sox.
In the post-All Star Game phase of the season, the Rays played 20 series, winning 15. In seven of those series -- that would be damn close to half the time -- they lost Game 1 of the series and then came back to win games 2 and 3, thus winning the series. They did it twice against the Red Sox in September, if you recall, losing to Jon Lester by a 3-0 score in Fenway on Sept. 8 and then coming back to win the next two games, starting with the stunning game-tying Dan Johnson homer off Jonathan Papelbon. A week later the Red Sox hit them with that four-homer, 13-5 blast here in the Trop, after which the Rays won the next two games to secure their hold on first place.
That said, the 2-0 Sox win on Friday night was a truly meaningful victory for them. It's funny, but the defending champion, the team with the pedigree, was the team that needed to prove something. Having lost eight out of nine here and having lost six one-run games and two two-run games to this team, the Red Sox needed to prove to themselves they could win a close game anywhere against them, and especially here.
Yes, the Red Sox are set up nicely now, with Becket and Lester ready for Games 2 and 3. But we need to see if Beckett can be the '07 October Beckett. And Lester, though now very good, is not invincible. And is he not due for a Fenway clunker? (I forgot. Some of you are optimists. I can't relate to that).
I must admit, however, I have a good feeling about Wakefield in Game 4.