10/06/08 9:37 PM ET
Chess Match: Running Rays
Tampa Bay aggressive on bases in Game 4 victory
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
There were no big surprises, strategy-wise, and in the end, it all came down to execution. The Rays won that battle, and clinched a spot in the American League Championshp Series in the process.
Off and running
The situation: Carl Crawford on first, nobody out and a full count to Cliff Floyd in the fourth inning.
The outcome: Floyd lines a double to left and Crawford scores easily to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
The analysis: The Rays have been an aggressive team all season, and the risk of a strikeout-throwout double play is lessened with Crawford on the basepaths. The decision also leads to the White Sox attempting to throw out Crawford at the plate, allowing Floyd to take third on the play.
The explanation: "Having [Crawford] back in the lineup changes our whole game. He gives us another dimension, something else for the pitcher to think about." -- Floyd
... and running
The situation: Top of the fifth, one out and Akinori Iwamura on first base with B.J. Upton at the plate.
The outcome: Upton grounds out sharply, third to first.
The analysis: Upton had homered in both of his two previous at-bats and is a good bet to at least make contact. He does, and if Iwamura hadn't been running, it would have been a sure double play. Instead, Iwamura is in scoring position when Carlos Pena follows with a single that gives the Rays a 5-1 lead.
The explanation: "We try to make every out count. Even if you don't get a hit, you still want to get that runner over." -- Upton Free pass costly
The situation: The Rays have Jason Bartlett on second with one out in the seventh.
The outcome: Pena drives in an insurance run with a single to right.
The analysis: With a base open, having the lefty Matt Thornton walk the right-handed-hitting Upton is the logical call with the left-handed-hitting Pena on deck. Pena thwarts the strategy, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a sound decision.
The explanation: "I don't blame them, I'd walk B.J. too in that situation." -- Pena
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.