Wow, what a series the ALCS turned out to be. The upstart Rays outlasted the experienced Red Sox and they did it in thrilling fashion. I have a tough time remembering a playoff series with more roller coaster rides.
The Rays had everything locked up on Thursday night in Game 5. They were up 7-0 at the 7th inning stretch and needed just 9 outs to get to the World Series, but the Red Sox weren't having it. They made the amazing comeback on that night and forced a Game 6. Boston carried that momentum in Saturday night's action and pulled out a 4-2 win on the road, evening the series at 3-3.
Everybody figured that after collapsing in Fenway and allowing the Red Sox to even things up that the unexperienced Rays would fold in Game 7, but they had different plans.
"To play these guys and to be able to do that versus the Red Sox really is actually a little bit more special based on where they've come from over the last couple years and what they've done," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "It's a tremendous benchmark for us to compete against them and actually win."
Matt Garza for the second time in the series outpitched Boston ace Jon Lester as he allowed just two hits and a run, walked three and had nine strikeouts over seven-plus innings on his way to earning the ALCS MVP award.
As good as Garza was, it was rookie David Price that blew me away as he did to the Boston hitters as well. Keep in mind the 22-year old didn't even make his Major League debut until September and only pitched one innning of work in this series. He came in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and got the biggest strike out of his life, fanning J.D. Drew. The left hander returned for the 9th inning , walking Jason Bay and striking out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek before getting pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie ground into a game-ending force play.
"I felt really good about David tonight," said Maddon. "This young man is composed beyond his years, he really is, and I think you've all had a chance to understand that if you've even had one conversation with him."