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Rays Say No Regrets To Bartletts Dash Home

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1Rays Say No Regrets To Bartletts Dash Home Empty Rays Say No Regrets To Bartletts Dash Home on Thu 30 Oct 2008, 10:53 pm

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Although none of the Rays involved in Wednesday's play at the plate said they had seen the replays of Jason Bartlett sliding into home, the general consensus surrounding the aggressive baserunning tactic was that, given the opportunity, the Rays would have done it again.

"It's just a good baseball play," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And sometimes you are safe, and sometimes you are out. But I loved it."

With Bartlett on second and two outs in the 3-3 game, Akinori Iwamura hit a grounder up the middle that Phillies second baseman Chase Utley backhanded and prevented from trickling out into the outfield.

"I didn't think I'd have a chance to get him at first base, to be honest with you," Utley said.

Instead, Utley pump-faked to first and, despite being off-balance, managed a successful enough throw to home plate for catcher Carlos Ruiz to put the tag on Bartlett.

"Utley went to the backhand and his arm started to go to first base," Rays third-base coach Tom Foley said, recounting the play Thursday afternoon. "I knew with Bartlett coming hard we were going to send him, try to steal a run there."

Instead, the inning-ending play left the Rays on the short end of Wednesday night's 4-3 World Series-clinching win for Philadelphia.

"Sometimes in a win, that's what you forget about," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after his club closed out the Series. "If you think about the Milwaukee series or the Dodgers series, things that happened in the game -- you look back and think things are going your way. That's what it takes."

Long after the play and the game had ended, both Bartlett and Foley agreed that giving the speedy shortstop the green light wasn't a decision they regretted. Replays seemed to show Bartlett slowed up about halfway down the line toward the plate, but to a man Thursday, the Rays insisted that wasn't the case.

Whereas Foley was near the third-base bag in the sixth inning of Game 5 when he waved B.J. Upton home with the game-tying run before the game was suspended, Foley was positioned down the line and waving the runner home when Bartlett was rounding third.

"If [Utley] had thrown it to first base, we would have scored a run because [Phillies first baseman Ryan] Howard being left-handed, he would have had to turn to throw [home]," Foley said. "So, you got to tip your hat to Utley who faked the throw -- I don't know if he saw Bartlett coming hard around third -- but in getting to the ball or what."

Utley did indeed have eyes for Bartlett and made a throw home to Ruiz, who grabbed the somewhat fluttering throw on a hop and dove back to his right to apply a sprawling tag on Bartlett, who was sliding headfirst into the plate.

"Utley is a very smart player," Ruiz said. "Iwamura was quick and had good speed, so I knew he would keep that ball just in case. In that situation with a man on second, [Bartlett] is a very good runner, so I knew he'd go to home plate. He anticipated that play and that was good for him."

Bartlett made no bones about wanting to score, saying Thursday morning that he would easily "do it again."

Maddon had no problem with that aggressive line of thinking and noted if the play hadn't been perfectly executed from the Phillies, it would be scrutinized in a whole new manner.

"What Foley thought [about] was the fact that [Utley] had bobbled it. Had he not bobbled it, he would have just thrown it to first base, but the fact that he bobbled it a bit caused him to think going home," Maddon said.

"If [in making the call] you are safe you are wonderful, and you blame Utley and Ruiz for that situation."

Instead, the Rays lost and Maddon was left to defend the decision to gamble in such an important game.

"That's the way we've played all year," he said. "And I have no issues with it at all. None."


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