Rays - 010 100 000 - 2 4 0 Red Sox - 000 530 04x - 12 14 0Boston was held hitless by Matt Moore for three innings before the bats suddenly came alive. The Red Sox batted around in consecutive innings, assisted by some poor Rays' fielding, quickly establishing an 8-2 lead. In fact, the Red Sox bunched all 14 hits in three innings.
The Game 1 victory was a team effort. The Red Sox's first 10 runs were scored by nine different players; seven of the nine starters drove in at least one run, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia leading the way with three RBIs.
It was only the third time in postseason history that all nine starters on a team had at least one hit and scored at least one run. The other two occurrences: the Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series and the Yankees in Game 2 of the 1936 World Series.
(Note: So very close to the ultra-rare "No Zeroes In The Box Score".)
Despite the rout, the first few innings were highly annoying. In the second, Jon Lester zipped an inning-ending third strike past Sean Rodriguez, but home plate umpire Chris Guccione called it a ball. Rodriguez then nailed Lester's next pitch over the Wall for a home run. Ben Zobrist hit a solo shot to begin the third to make it 2-0. With one down, Lester walked Evan Longoria and gave up a single to Delmon Young. Lester was able to wiggle out of that little jam - and then the run support from his mates came in bunches. After Young's hit, Lester retired 11 in a row.
Dustin Pedroia grounded a single to center to open the fourth inning. David Ortiz was given a ground-rule double on a fly ball that Rays' right fielder Wil Myers somehow failed to catch (the crowd mocked him mercilessly for the rest of the game) and the Boston table was set. After Mike Napoli popped out to second, Jonny Gomes tied the game at 2-2 with a double off the Wall. Saltalamacchia fanned, but Stephen Drew reached safely on a roller to first, beating Moore in a foot race to the bag; Gomes scored from second on the play! Will Middlebrooks doubled off the Wall to score Drew. After Jacoby Ellsbury reached first on a strikeout-passed ball, Shane Victorino poked an opposite-field single to right to bring in WMB with the inning's fifth run.
Moore was touched for three more runs in the following frame. With one out, Napoli doubled to left and Gomes was walked intentionally. Salty doubled both runners home, ending Moore's afternoon: 4.1-8-8-2-4, 106. After a strikeout and another BBI (to Middlebrooks), Ellsbury singled home Salty to make it 8-2.
Facing Jamey Wright (the Rays' fifth pitcher) in the eighth, Ellsbury singled, stole second and scored on Victorino's hard grounder into left. Pedroia nailed a perfect hit-and-run single to right and Victorino raced to third. Ortiz walked to load the bases and Wright walked Napoli to force in a run. Another run scored on Gomes's double play, and Salty brought in the day's final run with a single through the Rays' right field shift.
Lester (7.2-3-2-3-7, 114) may have been tiring in the top half of the eighth. He walked two batters and was relieved with two outs, walking off the field to a raucous standing ovation. Junichi Tazawa closed out the inning and Ryan Dempster took care of the ninth.
Ellsbury, CFThis afternoon, the Red Sox will play their first postseason game since October 11, 2009, when they lost to the Anaheim Angels and were swept out of that fall's ALDS. It's been a long time since that game: Jason Bay and Mike Lowell batted 5th and 7th, respectively.
Jon Lester and John Lackey (they opposed each other in Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS!) will get the ball for Boston in the first two games against the Rays at Fenway Park. Lackey gets the nod in Game 2 because of his strong performances at home this summer: 2.47 ERA and 1.033 WHIP at Fenway versus 4.48/1.271 on the road.
Clay Buchholz (1.74 ERA in 16 starts) will start Game 3 on Monday in Tampa Bay, with Jake Peavy ready to go in an if-necessary Game 4 on Tuesday.
We know they're going to pitch well, we're likely to be involved in a low-scoring game. To control their left-handed hitters is critical from our standpoint, and that's not to say that Longoria, Myers and other right-handers in that lineup can't do damage. But when they've scored a number of runs, it's what their left-handed hitters have done.Jonny Gomes:
We're real excited. One hundred sixty-two games and six months is not even an appetizer for what is about to happen.One of the Red Sox's lesser-known weapons: the running game. They stole 123 bases this season and were caught only 19 times (a MLB-best 87%). Rays' catcher Jose Molina threw out 39% of opposing base runners, nailing 23 of 89. The AL average was 36%.
Predictions? Tim Britton (Providence Journal) looks at all aspects of the series and says: Red Sox in 4. ... Peter Abraham of the Globe agrees: Sox in 4.
Tampa Bay has been travelling a lot this week, and winning: the Rays beat the Blue Jays in the final game of the regular season in Toronto, defeated the Rangers in Texas in Monday's wild-card tiebreaker, then snuffed out the Spiders in Cleveland on Wednesday to advance to the ALDS in Boston.
The Tampa Tribune looked at how this series stacks up and one of the paper's columnists, Martin Fennelly, offered this crack analysis:
If I'm the Red Sox, I don't want any part of this team. It looks like it's gathering steam. ...So ... disregard everything even remotely negative about the Rays, and heavily emphasize the good stuff. Well, since you put it that way, Tampa Bay looks unbeatable!
Yeah, the Rays went 7-12 against the Sox this season, 4-6 up there.
Throw that out the window. ...
Then again, Rays bats hit .207 against the Red Sox arms.
Jim Hickey, Rays pitching coach:
I don't think there's anybody who should be favored over us. ... [T]here's no one that says they want the Rays. Absolutely not. Whether it's Cleveland, Boston, Detroit or Oakland. Nobody's looking forward to that.Well, fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you, Jim.
Here's one non-baseball reason why it'll be good to thrash the Rays: they keep several cownose rays captive in a small, bare tank. A July 2013 letter from PETA to the Rays noted the animals are "confined to a small enclosure, subjected to constant reverberations from crowds, poked and prodded by up to 50 unfamiliar people at a time, and left unprotected from potential abuse".
My prediction? Red Sox in 5, something nerve-racking like L-W-W-L-W.