ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman made one important decision last offseason. It was that if a player didn't want to be on his team, he would do what he could to accommodate him.

That's how talented but occasionally discontented outfielder Delmon Young ended up going to the Minnesota Twins last winter.

Getting rid of players is one thing. Getting something in return is something else. And Friedman completed the doubleplay nicely. One of the players he received was shortstop Jason Bartlett, who was named the team's Most Valuable Player of the regular season.

Another was righthander Matt Garza, who was the winning pitcher last night at Tropicana Field as the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS, 3-1, to clinch the first World Series appearance in franchise history.

Garza was 2-0 with a 1.38 earned run average in his two starts and was voted Most Valuable Player of the ALCS. Garza, 24, became the youngest pitcher ever to win the ALCS MVP.

"When I got traded over here, I was disappointed for a while," he said. "And then I got on the phone with Mr. Friedman and I'll tell you what, that guy is so energetic, he has so much excitement going through his voice.

"He made me feel welcome. The guys took me in with open arms and said, hey, you're a piece of this puzzle that we're going to put together. And from there on out we rode the wave and we're still going."

The other side

Before last night, the Red Sox were unbeaten in nine potential ALCS elimination games, going on to win two world titles.

So, naturally, manager Terry Francona was disappointed, even though Manny Ramirez was traded at the deadline, third baseman Mike Lowell missed the entire series with a hip injury, Josh Beckett and David Ortiz were playing with nagging injuries and Jason Varitek didn't hit all year.

"We didn't get as far as we wanted," Francona said. "We got beat by a very good team. They'll represent the American League very, very well . . . I know our guys will be down for a little while, but they have no reason to hang their heads."

Rest for the weary

The American League Championship Series went a full seven games, so there will continue to be plenty of chatter about whether it's possible for a team to have too much rest going into the World Series.

The Phillies will have had 6 full days off when play resumes Wednesday night. The Rays will have had just 2 days to prepare.

And while it sounds counterintuitive, there is some recent anecdotal evidence that suggests a team can lose its momentum if its break is too long.

The Tigers came out flat against the Cardinals after sitting nearly a week 2 years ago and last October the Red Sox flattened the Rockies after Colorado went 8 days without playing a game.

So does Tampa Bay have an advantage going in?

"We would have been happy to win in four," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Game 7. "But if we come through all the adversity we've faced, to get it done at the end would really teach you a lesson. You find out that you're able to rebound and perform at a particular moment."

Extra innings

All four expansion teams since 1993 (Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rays) have now made it to the World Series, Florida has two world championships and Arizona has one . . . Before losing last night and in Game 3, Red Sox starter Jon Lester had never lost back-to-back starts in his big-league career . . . There were 26 home runs hit in the ALCS, a new league championship series and postseason record. The previous mark of 25 was set by the Astros and Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS. *