10/03/08 10:40 PM ET
Rays Short Hops: Game 2
Unfazed by early deficit, young Tampa Bay squad roars back
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
In < 25 words ...
Staring at an early two-run deficit, the Rays showed no signs of backing down, scoring six unanswered runs for a 2-0 series lead.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Akinori Iwamura took a 1-1 pitch over the fence. The homer -- which also plated Jason Bartlett -- gave the Rays the lead in what was -- at the time -- a one-run game.
37 -- Rays starter Scott Kazmir struggled through the first inning, tossing 37 pitches and allowing two early White Sox runs. Fortunately, the lefty recovered enough to last 5 1/3 innings on the hill.
Belted a two-run go-ahead home run that erased the 2-1 Rays deficit. Iwamura is now hitting .375 (3-for-8) in the series with a homer, triple and three RBIs.
The Rays backstop was the club's most consistent hitter during the regular season, and continues to deliver in crucial spots. Navarro had an RBI single in the second and an RBI double in the eighth.
With the bullpen warming up ahead of schedule, Kazmir hunkered down to help right what looked early on to be a disastrous outing. After 37 pitches in the first inning, the lefty exited respectfully after tossing 98 pitches with one out in the sixth.
Sense of October
A sellout crowd at Tropicana Field chanted "Aki" following Iwamura's two-run blast. After several minutes, the second baseman responded to the fans' request, coming out to accept his first postseason curtain call.
2 AB, 2 H, 0 HR, 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R
Comment: Filling in for Carlos Pena at first base, the switch-hitting Aybar singled and scored in the second inning, advancing two bases after an errant throw from White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez. Aybar went 2-for-3 in his first career postseason start, and leads the Rays with a .600 (3-for-5) series average.
2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K
Comment: With no outs and runners on first and second, Howell entered the game and retired the side in the seventh inning. He came up big again in the eighth, and has now tossed three scoreless innings in his first postseason.
"Love is an international language, and that's what we have in here." -- Carlos Pena, on the Rays' appreciation for Akinori Iwamura
The Rays will workout in Chicago on Saturday, sending Matt Garza to the hill for Sunday's Game 3. The Rays have a chance to sweep the series on the White Sox home turf and advance in their franchise-first postseason appearance.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.