Boroski, Rays seek to keep season alive
The Ohio Valley is in a state of baseball paranoia.
Whether or not you’re a Pirates, Indians or Reds’ fan, your team advanced into the postseason.
While most area allegiances back those three teams, there will be a small faction of people rooting rather loudly for the Tampa Bay Rays this evening when they take on the Indians at Progressive Field tonight in the American League Wild Card.
Many of those people will be located in Yorkville because one thing the Ohio Valley always does well is support its own.
It just so happens one of Yorkville and Buckeye South’s own, Stan Boroski, will be trying to help the Rays get to the American League Divisional Series on Friday against Boston.
“I’ve had a few people reach out (for tickets),” Boroski said during a phone interview. “I’ve got a lot of family still in Ohio. I expect there will be a few Rays’ fans in the crowd.”
Boroski is in his second full season as the Rays’ bullpen coach and his fourth with the Tampa Bay organization.
The Rays appeared to be headed toward playing today’s wild card game at home in Tropicana Field, but they dropped two of four in their final series of the season in Toronto.
That opened the door for the red-hot Indians, which have won 10 straight, to pass them and it also relegated Tampa to a one-game playoff against Texas on Monday.
“We were coming off two really big series (against Baltimore and New York) and I think we just relaxed a little bit (against Toronto),” Boroski said. “When we played the Orioles they were just a game behind us and then the Yankees still had plenty to play for, plus it was the final home series for Mariano Rivera. I just think we got into Toronto and had a little letdown.”
After winning on Sunday afternoon and seeing that the Rangers had beaten the Angels, the Rays boarded a flight to Arlington because Texas had won the season series.
“We knew it was going to be a great game,” Boroski said. “They beat us four out of seven in the season and they’d knocked us out of the playoffs a few times.”
David Price, the Rays’ ace, was brilliant. He threw a complete game and even made a web gem defensively on an Elvis Andrus attempt at a bunt single.
So, it was off to Cleveland.
“We’re built on pitching and defense,” Boroski said. “As our pitching goes, we go. We’d like our starters to go six or seven and then we’re able to use the pen how we want. When we’re able to do that, we’re pretty good.”
The Rays got into Cleveland early Tuesday morning and got to the ballpark for a workout in the late afternoon. Boroski was at work long before that going over video of Indians’ hitters, formulating a scouting report.
“We’re looking at two things,” Boroski said. “We look at what they’ve done long term and what they’ve been doing for the last two weeks. Then we look at particular pitches and locations they’ve been hitting well and we try to match that up with our pitchers’ strengths and go from there.”
You hear all the time that the 162-game baseball season is a grind. According to Boroski it’s that and plenty more.
“It’s absolutely a marathon,” Boroski said. “We deal with that by not trying to get too emotional in the season. When things are going great, that’s good. But, when we’re not playing well for a stretch, that’s okay, too. These guys are professionals.”
While Boroski will be doing everything he possibly can to help the Rays eliminate the Indians tonight, he did recognize how exciting for the Ohio Valley and Major League Baseball it is to see both Pittsburgh and Cleveland back in the postseason.
“It’s awesome,” Boroski said. “I was a big Pittsburgh fan growing up. Being so close and having Maz (Bill Mazeroski) from there, you couldn’t help but root for the Pirates.”
Similar to the Rays, the Pirates have built their team through the draft, locking up their young stars and plucking a few key pieces through the free agent and trade markets.
“Pittsburgh has done it the right way,” Boroski said. “They have great young players.”
As for the Indians, they’ve done it similarly with Terry Francona in his first season as the skipper.
The Tribe has solid young players and went out and added veterans like Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi, all of whom provided clubhouse leadership.
“I am happy for Cleveland because they’ve struggled as late as last year, losing more than 90 games,” Boroski said. “It’s good for the entire game. Everyone expects Boston, New York, Los Angeles and, to a certain extent, Texas because they spend a lot of money.”
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org