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October 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm ET
Rays concede Game 5, admit they have no idea how to end series

According to ESPN.com, Scott Kazmir will be starting Game 5 tomorrow versus the Red Sox. Why? Because Rays manager Joe Maddon is conceding the game to Boston.

The Tampa Bay Rays will start Scott Kazmir in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series instead of James Shields, Rays manager Joe Maddon announced Wednesday.

Shields will be pushed back to Game 6, if needed, Maddon said, because he wants Shields to pitch at home, where he is “very good.”

Strange to be shuffling your rotation when you have the OTHER team on the ropes. But if Maddon thinks the Rays have no shot against the Sox in Game 5, well, I can’t argue with that. If I were a Rays fan, however, I’d question why their manager plans to lose a game that could send them to the World Series.

I wondered when the Rays would start acting like a team that’s never been in this position before.

If Maddon were really smart, he’d save Shields for game 7, since “Big Game” is very good in those kinds of situations.

Cam Martin also writes for CBS Sportsline and Comcast SportsNet New England.

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7 Responses to “Rays concede Game 5, admit they have no idea how to end series”
  1. what Joe Maddon didn’t say is that Derryl Cousins is scheduled to be the home plate umpire in game 6 and Cousins and Kazmir have a very tumultuous history. Earlier this season Kaz got upset about Cousins strike zone and the strike zone then got even smaller which led to a Maddon ejection and some none-to-veiled comments from Kazmir after the game. And that was just the latest confrontation between the two.

    Maddon wants to avoid a repeat in a potentially very important playoff game.

    On top of that, you can look at Kazmir’s history in Fenway (ERA 3.04), James Shields home/road splits (much better at home) and the fact that there is an off-day after game 5 (Kazmir won’t work more than 5 innings, and bullpen will have to work overtime).

    It all adds up to YET ANOTHER smart move by Papa Joe.

  2. Carl says:

    I hear Jon Lester is a guaranteed win in Game 3 also.

  3. Re-arranging your rotation based on umpires? Nothing like admitting you’re mind-fucked.

  4. Chris says:

    This post is a joke right? You can’t seriously be that dumb can you? Joe Maddon might be the smartest manager in the MLB right now and he continues to show it every game. This is just another one of his brilliant moves. And speaking of big game pitchers, how did Josh Beckett fare in game 2? I missed that one……

  5. Carey Freeman says:

    Wow, and you actually write for credible publications? With this lack of fact checking?

    The numbers don’t lie. In this case they scream at Maddon to make this move.

    In Fenway this year:

    Kazmir is 4-4 with a 3.02 ERA. And let’s not forget that Kaz’s last best start came in a game at Fenway with huge pressure and implications. In what was arguably one of, if not the, biggest win of the season for the Rays, Kaz puts in 6 solid innings, give up 2 runs and the Rays win 3-2.

    Shields, meanwhile, is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA at Fenway. Not to mention, Shields is 9-2 with an ERA under 3.00 at Tropicana Field.

    It all fits with Maddon’s mantra of putting players in a position to be successful. In fact, it epitomizes it.

    For all I know, this is just red meat for Sox fans because I can’t believe that any serious baseball fan would back this statement.

  6. Where yesterday there was nothing but doom and gloom among Red Sox fans, with talking heads saying the series was over, now we are treated to hope — hope in the form of Joe Maddon. Thank you, Joe, your decision to save James Shields just saved the Red Sox and gave hope to millions.

  7. Jeff says:

    Johnny Gomes should be making this decision. I’m sure he knows what it means to “kick ‘em when they’re down” which is exactly what Maddon should be doing here.

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