The last time the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox each won a postseason series was in 2008; each was victorious in their respective ALDS series before the Rays defeated Boston in an epic 7 game American League Championship Series. (Tampa Bay would eventually lose to the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.)
Since then, neither team has advanced past the ALDS, and both teams are hungry for a return to American League postseason glory. For once, the Red Sox are the team that defied expectations – a club supposedly rebuilding ended up winning 97 games and the AL East pennant. The Rays, meanwhile, were expected by many to be here; however, their road victories in a Game 163 tiebreaker against the Texas Rangers and in the AL wild card playoff against the Cleveland Indians were impressive.
Boston boasts the most productive lineup in Major League Baseball; they led MLB in runs, total bases, RBI, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS during the 2013 MLB season. The Rays were a more balanced bunch, ranking 12th in batting average, 12th in team ERA and 2nd in fielding percentage on the season. While Boston won the season series against the Rays, Tampa has been the hotter team entering the playoffs – the Red Sox were 5-5 over their last 10 games, while the Rays are 10-2 since September 20th.
Boston has been resting up a bit, having clinched the division as early as any team in MLB. The Rays have had to fight their way here. Which team will benefit from their journey to the ALDS more?
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox: 2013 head-to-head
Head-to-Head Season Series: Boston, 12 games to 7
Average Game Score: Boston 3.737, Tampa Bay 3.000
Games @ Boston: Boston, 6 games to 4
Games @ Tampa Bay: Boston, 6 games to 3
Final Regular Season Standings:
Boston Red Sox: 97-65, AL East Champions
Tampa Bay Rays: 92-71, 2nd in AL East, AL Wild Card #2
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, 2013 ALDS Schedule
Game 1: Tampa Bay (Moore) at Boston (Lester), October 4, 3:07 p.m. EST
Game 2: Tampa Bay (Price) at Boston (Lackey), October 5, 5:37 p.m. EST
Game 3: Boston (Buchholz) at Tampa Bay (TBA), October 7 (TBD)
Game 4 (if necessary): Boston (Peavy) at Tampa Bay (TBA), October 8 (TBD)
Game 5 (if necessary): Tampa Bay (TBA) at Boston (Lester), October 10 (TBD)
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox, 2013 ALDS Outlook
We’ll be treated to several good pitching matchups during this ALDS, with Matt Moore and Jon Lester facing off in Game 1 and David Price and John Lackey going in Game 2. The Rays haven’t announced their starters past Game 2, but we’re sure to see Alex Cobb in the mix somewhere. Boston will presumably go four starters deep; it will be interesting to see if Rays manager Joe Maddon hands the ball to Chris Archer or Jeremy Hellickson at all in this series.
The stats say Boston, the math says Boston, and the season series says Boston. But there’s something about this Tampa Bay Rays team lately; the way they snuffed out Texas and Cleveland in consecutive road elimination games may signal that this club is starting to roll. In two of the last seasons, the #1 seed in the American League has fallen in the ALDS. Will Boston make it three of four?
The Pick: Tampa Bay Rays win, 3 games to 2