BOSTON -- There will be no Tito-palooza in the American League playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Rays eliminated Terry Francona and his Cleveland Indians 4-0 in Wednesday night's play-in game, to advance to the American League Division Series that opens Friday afternoon in Fenway Park.
John Farrell has frequently said in recent days, a sentiment echoed in many corners of the Sox clubhouse, that the team playing the best entering the playoffs is the most dangerous in October. If that is the case, the Sox have reason to be concerned about the Rays, who finished six games behind them in the AL East and lost 12 of 19 meetings head-to-head with the Sox.
With their win over the Indians on Wednesday night, the Rays have won three elimination games in three different cities: They beat the Jays in Toronto on Sunday to finish the regular season in a tie with Texas for the second wild-card spot; they beat the Rangers on Monday night in Arlington to advance to Wednesday's play-in game; and they shut out the Indians in Progressive Field to win a trip to Boston.
The Rays have not been home since Sept. 23, but they won 15 of their last 20 games, including Wednesday night's blanking of the Indians, who had won 10 in a row before succumbing to Alex Cobb and a succession of relievers Wednesday.
The Rays have an ERA of 2.81 in that stretch, and are expected to send 17-game winner Matt Moore against Jon Lester, already named by Farrell as the Game 1 starter. Left-hander David Price, who pitched a complete game to beat the Rangers on Monday, figures to pitch Game 2 against right-hander John Lackey.