The two best teams in the American League East will do battle with one another in the American League Division Series. The AL East champion Boston Red Sox will take on a nemesis of theirs in the Tampa Bay Rays, the wild card winners.
Boston won the season series 12-7 and outscored Tampa Bay 71-57.The Red Sox had a bounce-back season; after winning just 68 games a season ago, the Sox went 97-65. The Rays returned to the 90 win plateau for the fourth straight season. The last time these two teams squared off in the playoffs was in 2008 when the Rays beat the Red Sox in seven games in the ALCS.
Keys to the Series
Can the Red Sox bats be shut down? – Boston batted 2.77 as a team and scored an AL best 853 runs, which was 153 more than the Rays hit as a team. Their lineup is lethal and arguably the best lineup in the league, top to bottom. The lefty pitching of the rays will try and stifle the explosive bats of Boston, but that is no easy task.
Battle of the starting pitching- Both team have terrific starting pitching staffs. Two of the best staffs in baseball will go head-to-head. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz combined to go 4-1 against Tampa Bay this season while David Price and Matt Moore combined to go 4-2 vs Boston. Here’s how the rotations break down for the series.
Tampa Bay Red Sox
Matt Moore: 17-4, 3.29 ERA Jon Lester: 15-8 3.75 ERA
David Price: 18-10, 3.33 ERA John Lackey: 10-13, 3.52 ERA
Alex Cob: 11-3, 2.76 ERA Clay Buchholz: 12-1, 1.74 ERA
Chris Archer: 9-7, 3.22 ERA Jake Peavy: 12-5, 4.17 ERA
Tampa Bay- Evan Longoria- Longoria batted .269 this season with 32 homeruns and 88 RBIs. The face of the franchise is rarely rattled in the batter’s box. If the Rays can get guys on base in front of him, his solo homeruns could turn into multiple-run homeruns. He usually hits well in Fenway Park, which he will have to do in order for the Rays to take at least one game in Boston.
Boston- David Ortiz- “Big Papi” had another fantastic season batting .303 with 30 homeruns and 103 RBIs. He had his seventh season with 30 homeruns and 100 RBI’s. One of the key contributors in the Red Sox past two World Series, Ortiz will look to continue his strong play. Runners will be on for him and if he can continue to drive them in, the Red Sox will be in prime position to advance to the ALCS.
Game 1- Tampa Bay @ Boston – Friday 10/4 3:00 p.m.
Game 2- Tampa Bay @ Boston – Saturday 10/5 5:30 p.m.
Game 3- Boston @ Tampa Bay – Monday 10/7 TBD
*Game 4- Boston @ Tampa Bay – Tuesday 10/8 TBD
*Game 5- Tampa Bay @ Boston – Thursday 10/10 TBD