Rays get even, hit the road

The Rays tied the World Series at one game apiece with a 4-2 win against the Phillies in Tampa Bay last night and now the series heads for Philadelphia, allowing anyone with a "Rayhawk" to take a big sigh of relief.

Tampa Bay helped its cause in Game 2 by taking an early lead and avoiding the seemingly impossible task of having to rally against Phillies closer Brad Lidge who hasn't blown a save all year.

Meanwhile, the Phillies didn't do themselves any favors by making two errors and failing to score until the eighth inning.  Heading back to Philadelphia should be a shot in the arm for the Phillies' offense since they hit .262 with a .788 OPS at home this season vs. .249/.753 on the road.

At the bare minimum, the Rays should be able to take one game in Philly to bring the series back to Tampa Bay where they have the best home record in baseball.

The pitching matchups feature Matt Garza vs. Jamie Moyer in Game 3, Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton in Game 4 and Scott Kazmir vs. Cole Hamels in Game 5.

Garza should easily get the edge over Moyer, Sonnanstine-Blanton is a push but I'll call that game for the Rays and Hamels has the edge on Kazmir which should all add up to a 3-1 lead in the series for the Rays as everyone packs their bags for a trip to Tampa Bay to decide the World Series.

If Rays manager Joe Maddon is lucky he won't have to use rookie David Price in Game 4 which means he can lean on Price for 2 innings to close out Game 5 since there's no game scheduled the next day.  If Kazmir can give the Rays 6 good innings, Price's ability to work more than one inning should leave Maddon with just 1 inning to navigate with a sometimes-shaky bullpen.

The Rays still have my vote for a 4-3 World Series win.

* FROM ONE MIKE TO ANOTHER:  Sunday will mark the head coaching debut of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary when his 49ers take on the Seahawks in San Francisco.

I'm as happy as anyone to see empty suit Mike Nolan out of the picture, but I don't have a lot of hope for Singletary's chances of turning things around.

Singletary is stuck with the same roster and, aside from one firing, the same coaching staff.  The most I'm expecting out of the Singletary Niners is more aggression on defense and a greater emphasis on running and protecting the ball on offense.

Fortunately, Singletary has a winnable game on Sunday against 1-5 Seattle and I can easily see the 49ers playing hard for the new coach and putting one in the win column.  After that, who knows?

In a perfect world the 49ers go 6-3 under Singletary with wins against the Seahawks, Cardinals or Jets, Rams (twice), Dallas and Miami.

Unfortunately, the 49ers' world has been anything but perfect since the York family took over ownership of the team and a 3-6 finish seems a lot more likely and blindly optimistic.


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