Red Sox Bedeviled By Tampa Bay Rays

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For the first time, the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series. They'll take on Philadelphia after beating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 in game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The Tampa Bay Rays collapsed in game five. They lost again in game six, but last night they put away the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series game seven. There was no miracle come back for the Red Sox, the final score was three to one. And the World Series will match the Rays against the Philadelphia Phillies. Commentator John Feinstein was watching. John, good morning once again.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Just when you start thinking the Red Sox are the team of destiny, they lose.

FEINSTEIN: Yeah. It was beginning to look as if it was going to take a wooden stake, off the Red Sox.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FEINSTEIN: You know, going back to 2003, the year of the famous Aaron Boone home run for the Yankees that beat the Red Sox. The Red Sox had been since then in 15 elimination games going into last night, games in which if they lost their season was over. Their record was 13 in two including that game on Thursday night when they came from behind seven nothing, they had an early lead. Dustin Pedroia had a home run in the first inning but then Matt Garza who's only 24 with sort of typifying how young this race team has shut them down, they managed to piece together three runs and then held on through that eighth inning which I think just ended about 10 minutes ago, it seems so long.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that eighth inning, the Red Sox had the base as loaded at point, didn't they?

FEINSTEIN: Oh yes, they had the bases loaded and in fact the race used five different relief pitchers in that inning. And the manager, Joe Maddon finally brought in David Price who started the year pitching in class A ball, Steve, which is you know is three levels below the Major League. He only had seven appearances this year in the Major League and he struck out J.D. Drew who was the hero the other night, Thursday night, with the bases loaded then got the Red Sox out in the ninth inning in the race, could finally breathe and Mr. Applegate could collect his souls in Tampa.

INSKEEP: You must have a lot of confidence if you're the manager or the pitching coach of the Rays and you point at that guy with only a handful of Major League starts and say, I think you're the guy, you're going to get us out of this inning.

FEINSTEIN: Well, either confidence or desperation, take your pick but he does have a 97 mile and hour fast ball and that's what he used to strike out Drew. And he had tried everybody else, so you might as well try the kid at that point.

INSKEEP: John, you mentioned that Matt Garza is 24 and that he typifies the Rays line up, how so?

FEINSTEIN: Just an incredibly young team, there are two star hitters, Evan Longoria and BJ Upton aren't 25 yet. Longoria started the season in the minor leagues also and will be the rookie of the year, all their pitch - this is a team, Steve that a year ago had the worst record in Major League baseball, no team in the history of baseball has ever gone from the worst record to winning the world series. The Rays will try to become the first against the Philly.

INSKEEP: What feels different about them?

FEINSTEIN: I think it's the confidence of their young pitchers, they got up to a great start and everybody kept saying you're going to collapse, you're going to collapse. The Red Sox will catch you, you'll lose in the first round of the playoffs, you're going to lose to the Red Sox. And maybe they're just too young to understand that you don't go from 71 wins one year to now 104 wins the next year but they've done it.

INSKEEP: Well now, maybe it's too early because we haven't even got to the World Series yet, but you have to wonder about a young team like this. Is this the team of the future or is this the team that will very soon be seeing all of its players go off to play for more money in New York and Boston?

FEINSTEIN: Well, that's always the question with small market teams in the race, they've only been in existence 11 years and they're a small market team. But if they win the World Series, maybe they make enough money that they can keep some of their players around but several of them, as I said Longoria, five years away from free agency, Upton, four years, the pitcher is several years away from free-agency. So this team should be together for at least the next couple of years.

INSKEEP: John, thanks very much.

FEINSTEIN: Hey, thanks Steve.

INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein, his most recent book is Living on the Black: Two Pictures, Two Teams, One Unforgettable Season. And two teams will conclude this season in the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays playing the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rays made it last night by defeating the Boston Red Sox. The final score in game seven was three to one.

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