The Red Sox returned home looking to chill the Tampa Bay Rays, who come in at 6-3, two games ahead of the Sox. Josh Beckett looks to ice the potent visitor lineup, with help from the ambient conditions.
2. Wading In. Boston faces more than its share of Wades this weekend, with Ray hurler Wade Davis and Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade. So far, the former has looked pretty sharp with a 96 mph heater in tow. In addition to their 1-2 of James Shields and Matt Garza, the Rays will rely on mature performances from youngsters Davis and Jeff Niemann.
3.Chill factor. I don't have as many rules as NCIS' Jethro Gibbs, but I have some baseball rules, including "never go to baseball games in April." Needless to say, with 552 consecutive sellouts, the Sox haven't exactly been missing me.
The Sox went 14-8 as of April 30, 2009, 17-12 in 2008, 16-8 in 2007, 14-11 in 2006, and 12-11 in 2005...in other words, the April cold weather hasn't hurt them much.
4. Running scared. The Rays have already swiped a trio of bases early in the game. Crawford reaching first base has become an automatic double for the Rays left fielder against the Sox. One knock on the Sox is Victor Martinez' inability to throw out runners. Jason Varitek is catching tonight, and he's got an o-fer so far. Can the Rays equal their production (eight in one game) against the Sox? Yes, we know that stolen bases occur for a variety of reasons, holding runners on, release time to home plate, catcher's throwing ability, runners' lead, jump, and speed, et cetera. All that being said, are the Sox the worst team in the majors in allowing stolen bases? Based on these statistics, that's hard to say.
5. You never see that. Baseball seems to present a play or sequence of plays nightly that you virtually never see. If David Ortiz laid a bunt down the third base line, that would be an example. My all time worst was seeing a grounds' crew member drop (heart attack?) when I was attending a game when I was nine years old. Tonight, Adrian Beltre clearly lost a ground ball in the lights, leading to a run on an infield hit. I can't truly call that a defensive misplay or error (DME), but the results are the same. If the Red Sox throw out a Ray stealing tonight, that might go in the "NST" (never see that) column.