10/14/08 11:43 PM ET
Rays Short Hops: Game 4
Barrage of offense pushes hosts to edge in ALCS
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The Rays continued to look like Murderers Row and starter Andy Sonnanstine tossed up 7 1/3 strong innings to hand the Red Sox a second straight home loss.
Willy Aybar blasted a two-out knuckleball over the fence for the Rays' third home run and a 5-0 lead reminiscent of Game 3's early cushion. The knock was enough for the Red Sox to lift Tim Wakefield after just 2 2/3 innings. Big number
31 -- Number of runs the Rays have scored in the past three games of the series. Game balls Carl Crawford
Crawford had his best offensive performance this postseason, going a perfect 5-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs. The Rays' sparkplug swiped a pair of bases and finally looks to be back on track from a finger injury that sidelined him for nearly two months.
The utility man showed why he is so valuable off the bench. Granted a rare start, Aybar went 4-for-5 with five RBIs. The switch-hitter also delivered the solo homer that chased Wakefield.
The crafty right-hander held the Red Sox to just one run over the first six frames and exiting with a commanding 13-3 lead after 7 1/3 frames.
Sense of October
Not content with a five-run lead, the Rays sent 10 men to the plate in the sixth inning adding five "jugs" runs. Rays manager Joe Maddon coined the term "jugs" to refer to going after an opponent's jugular. It was precisely the kind of offense that put Game 4 safely in the Rays' pocket.
4 AB, 1 H, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB
Comment: Longoria smashed the rookie postseason record with a solo homer in the first inning. The third baseman has gone yard five times in the playoffs, passing Miguel Cabrera, who had four homers in his rookie season with the Marlins in 2003.
7.1 IP, 3 R, 6 H, BB, 2 K
Comment: Sonnanstine saddled the Red Sox's bats, holding them to just one run and two hits in the game's first six innings. The right-hander issued just one walk and was rewarded by some dazzling defense behind him.
"We are at the point now where we are swinging at strikes. We're not expanding our strike zone, which is one of our hugest goals coming into this Spring Training, and I'm loving that part of it. But right now, it's kind of contagious." -- Maddon, on the Rays' offense
Both clubs enjoy an off-day on Wednesday before the series resumes with Thursday's Game 5. The Rays will send Scott Kazmir to the hill looking for a series victory on Boston's home turf. Kazmir was handed a no-decision in Tampa Bay's Game 2 victory after allowing five runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.