The A.L. East Race

September 23, 2008 |

The Tampa Bay Rays took a 2.5 game lead over Boston last night and there was a key play in each game that could help decide the race.

In Baltimore the O’s had a key baserunning mistake that was part of the reason they lost. With one out in the bottom of the sixth with Aubrey Huff on second and Oscar Salazar on first Ramon Hernandez hits a fly ball to center that was obviously going to be caught.

For some reason both baserunners take off when the ball is hit and the Rays could have doubled off either runner. Huff was the one they chose. End of inning. End of rally.

Meanwhile at Fenway with Jason Varitek on first and Jason Bay on second Jeff Bailey hits a ball down the third base line. The ball looked headed for the left field corner. Unfortunately for the Red Sox the ball hit the 3rd base umpire. The third base coach assumed the ball was in the corner or banged off the wall that jets out behind third base so he waved Bay around but when Bay saw the ball hit the umpire he stopped between third and home.

Meanwhile Varitek had the play in front of him. He saw that both the shortstop and third basemen had chased the ball so he kept on coming to third. Once Jamey Carroll retrieved the ball he threw to Kelly Shoppach who tagged out Bay after a brief rundown ending the threat. Althought the Sox had chances each of the last 4 innings to score you will not see a stranger play.

I predict the Rays will clinch before they leave Baltimore and these two plays will be the icing on the cake for the Rays division title.