Bartlett quietly helps Rays win, America eat
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jason Bartlett's cell phone has been inundated with messages from numbers he doesn't recognize. But all the notes streaming into his new phone are the same: congratulations from friends and family for scoring them a free taco.Yes, Bartlett is in the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays. He's even driven in a run -- with a safety squeeze that pushed across Cliff Floyd in the fourth inning of the team's 4-2 win over the Phillies on Thursday night in Game 2 of the World Series. But, as usual, Bartlett is earning more praise for the smaller acts, such as his Game 2 bunt or his Game 1 stolen base, which will allow every person in America to claim a free taco from 2-6 p.m. local time on Tuesday. "I changed over my phone this morning, and I didn't transfer the numbers yet," Bartlett said. "I'm getting all these text messages but don't know who they are yet." Asked whether he was being given a hard time by his friends, he said, "No, they're saying 'Thank you.'"
The appreciation has come in small doses for Bartlett this season, but the unassuming shortstop prefers it that way. He hit .286 this season, drove in 37 runs and homered once. Remarkably, that performance was enough for local Tampa sportswriters to vote Bartlett -- not third baseman Evan Longoria or pitcher James Shields or first baseman Carlos Pena -- as the team's MVP.
That was a typical description of Bartlett, who's 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI in the first two games of this World Series. Others have described him as quiet, professional, funny and dependable. He's also incredibly reliable on defense and forms a solid double-play combination with second baseman Akinori Iwamura that makes the entire team feel at ease. He did so despite a language barrier between the two.
WORLD SERIES GAME 2: RAYS 4, PHILLIES 2
The Rays took the early lead in Game 2 of the World Series against the Phillies and hung on for a 4-2 win to even the series.
Story | Series page
• Jayson Stark: Rays defy logic in win
• Jerry Crasnick: Phillies eager for home cooking
• Amy K. Nelson: Bartlett's quiet contributions
• Inside Edge reports: Phillies | Rays
• Game 2 blog
• Baseball Tonight Clubhouse: Game 3 preview
• Shields, Rays even Series with Game 2 win
• BBTN breaks down Rays' victory
• James Shields talks about his outing
• B.J. Upton explains Rays do the little things
• John Kruk on Phillies' offensive woes
• Joe Maddon, Charlie Manuel look back on Game 2
• BBTN previews Game 3
• Postgame interviews with Shields, Upton