ST. PETERSBURG — Stop whining.
With Rays pitcher David Price’s angry, breathtakingly self-centered postgame social media campaign safely behind us — with an apology from Price — we proceed to lesser drama: Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
Boston’s Red Sox, up two games to none after knocking Price and the Rays around in two games at Fenway Park, “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” (Sox media guide), are at Tropicana Field, America’s least beloved ballpark, looking for the three-game sweep.
Meanwhile, Joe Maddon’s Rays are searching for any sign of the team that has won 93 games this season, including last week’s tiebreaker and wild-card games.
The Rays are home for tonight’s Game 3 after two weeks on the road: five cities, two countries, more than 5,600 air miles. Josh Freeman was still the Bucs’ quarterback when they left. They’ve returned only to again find their backs still against the wall.
“They’ve been there a while,” Maddon said.
Time for those spines to shine anew.
Frankly, Maddon had expected more from his club as it came out of three must-win wins that preceded this ALDS: Toronto on the final Sunday of the regular season, then Texas in the Game 163 tiebreak, then the wild-card game in Cleveland.
“I thought it would be more energy laden, catapult kind of thing coming out of those three days because sincerely, honestly, we were not fatigued,” he said. “I thought we looked and felt and prepared really well. And we have just not been able to get over the Boston hump.”
Red Sox Nation has spoken, loudly, especially to Rays rookie right fielder Wil Myers, who misplayed a fly ball in Game 1, making him thousands of new friends in New England. Now it’s time for an actually sold-out Trop to strike back at full throat.
So long as Price keeps his mouth and Twitter account closed.
The left-hander made a mess of Game 2, taking the loss, giving up seven runs.
Then things got worse.
In a postgame interview, Price pointed to “some broken-bat singles, some broken-bat doubles,” and “they had 305-foot fly ball go for doubles and triples,” off Fenway’s famed Green Monster.
He called out Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz for showing him up when Ortiz gawked at the second of his two homers Saturday off Price. The reigning American league Cy Young Award winner later vented on Twitter at fans and broadcasters, even reciting his accomplishments dating back to college.
Hey, I didn’t know he was in Future Farmers!
It was cry-baby stuff, the last thing Price or his club needed, to fuel any more Boston momentum.
You don’t get lit for seven runs and then run your mouth. You don’t talk about getting shown up — you show up.
The Rays haven’t. Boston has overpowered them, scoring 19 runs, a feeding frenzy. The Rays are hitting .197 in the series, .143 with runners in scoring position.
“I thought they swung the bats batter, they pitched better,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. “At some point, you have to admit that, turn the page and go to the next day.”
Like many other Rays, David Price didn’t attend Sunday afternoon’s optional team workout, but he did issue an apology for some of his tweets. Plus Ortiz said Sunday that he and Price have talked and that they are good.
But how far?
Alex Cobb takes the mound for the Rays in Game 3 to try to keep the 2013 season alive.
No more whining.