Thursday, October 02, 2008

ALDS White Sox/Rays: 5 Questions

You could challenge that there aren’t any fans happier this postseason than the Tampa Bay Rays fans. Not only are the Rays making their first playoff appearance ever they also beat out MLB postseason regulars New York Yankees and Boston for the AL East division title.

One of those fans is R.J. from the Tampa Bay Rays fansite DRaysBay. R.J. was kind enough to set is jubilation aside for a minute to answer four questions about the series and give us a prediction.

Okay, I have to start out with this. I kept waiting on Tampa Bay to fold this season and give way to the Red Sox. At what point did you realize that the Rays were going to be in the playoffs and how juiced were you that not only did they make the post season for the first time but they also won their division?

RJ: Around the all star break. Of course the break came on the heels of a seven game losing streak, but I was sound in the idea of the Rays being the best non-division winner if it came to that. I'm not really sure if I can put into words the emotion I felt when we won the division. More than a decade of hope all rose at one point into joy and victory.

Does the fact that the White Sox had to win a play-in game to make this series give you any extra confidence or does it not matter in regards to extra rest because the series won’t start until Thursday?

RJ: I don't think it really matters. Both teams have been playing on almost no rest all season. The rest has done well for the Rays though as Carl Crawford should return in time to start game one.

Akinori Iwamura leads the team in batting average (.274) and Carlos Peña leads the way in RBI’s (102) and homeruns (31). Who are some of the other offensive leaders that you think will be big producers in this series?

RJ: B.J. Upton leads the team in OBP and Evan Longoria is probably the best all around player on the team. I'm expecting a combination of those two, Pena, or Dioner Navarro to etch themselves into memory banks.

James Shields gets the nod on the mound in game one and Scott Kazmir in game two. How confident are you in the Rays’ pitching and who would you put on the mound in game three?

RJ: Matt Garza will get the start, I think the better question is who gets the start in game four. I know it would be based on records, but if the series is 2-1, I would consider rolling with Shields and pushing Andrew Sonnanstine into the game five start.

Give us a prediction!

RJ: Rays in five. I'm not sure which games they will win, but I think the better defense prevails in the end.

Thanks for your time, RJ and good luck with the White Sox. You can follow the Rays through the playoffs and partcipate in game threads at DRaysBay.