Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Rays or Tribe: What's your pleasure?
So it will be either old friend Terry Francona or (sort of) old nemesis the Tampa Bay Rays coming to Fenway Park for the ALDS on Friday afternoon.
Behind a complete-game effort by David Price, the Rays beat the Rangers 5-2 to qualify for the wild-card game against Francona's Indians on Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Price's performance (7 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 81 of 118 pitches for strikes) likely will lead some Red Sox fans to root even harder for the Indians. Although Price likely wouldn't face the Red Sox until Saturday's Game 2, he would be lined up on regular rest for Game 5, if things get that far. Matt Moore (2.79 ERA this month, 17-4 on the season, 2-0 against the Sox) figures to be Tampa Bay's Game 1 starter.
The Red Sox were 12-7 against the Rays this season, but Joe Maddon's squad has been a thorn in Boston's side in the past, notably in the 2008 ALCS, which the Rays won in seven games, and in 2011, when they rallied to beat the Yankees and helped push the Sox out of the playoffs on the last night of the regular season. And then there is the series of brawls between the teams that dates back to the Devil Rays/Gerald "Ice" Williams days.
The Sox were 6-1 against the Indians, but didn't play them after May. Cleveland closed the season with 10 straight wins, but they came at the expense of the Astros, White Sox and Twins, three of the worst teams in baseball.
Asked Monday what the key to his team's late-season surge was, Francona couldn't resist referencing the Red Sox collapse under his watch in 2011. "We stayed away from chicken and beer. That helped. Might as well get that out of the way," he cracked.
The probable starters for Wednesday's wild-card game are Danny Salazar (2-3 in 10 career starts) for Cleveland and Alex Cobb (11-3) for the Rays.