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Final123456789RHE
Tampa Bay010100000240
Boston00053004X12140
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W:J.Lester(1-0) L:M.Moore(0-1)
HR: TAM- B.Zobrist (1), S.Rodriguez (1) BOS- None
12


American League Division Series Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, October 4th (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Rays (1-0) at Boston Red Sox (0-0), 3:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29) Boston - Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75)

(SportsNetwork.com) - What a difference a year makes.

The Boston Red Sox lost 93 games last season. This year they head into the postseason as the top team in the American League. The Red Sox begin their first postseason run in four years on Friday in the best-of-five American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Only two teams were worse than Boston in the AL in 2012, leading to the dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine after just one season. So, out with the old and in with the new, as the team hired John Farrell away from Toronto to be the new skipper.

All Farrell did was put himself atop most people's AL Manager of the Year ballots, as he guided the Red Sox to a 28-game turnaround and ended the year 97-65, leading the club to its first AL East title since their World Series championship season of 2007.

The 97 wins were also the second most for the team since 1978.

Farrell, of course, was the Red Sox pitching coach under Terry Francona, and his impact was immediately evident, especially among the starting staff which saw their ERA decrease by nearly two runs from the prior season

Two of his former proteges, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, benefited the most, as both enjoyed bounce-back campaigns. Buchholz pitched to a 4.56 ERA in 2012, but was the best pitcher in baseball until a shoulder injury sidelined him for three months.

Still, he ended the year 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA.

Lester, meanwhile, will get the ball in Game 1 for the Red Sox. Like Buchholz, the left-hander struggled through 2012, posting a 9-14 ledger with a 4.82 ERA. He reverted back to the pitcher he was under Farrell this season, though, going 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA.

"Last year was just horrendous all the way around," Lester said.

In his 13 starts since the All-Star break, Lester is 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA.

"To be named Game 1 starter, especially after last year," Lester said, "big honor, obviously, very excited."

Offensively the Red Sox are still led by 37-year-old designated hitter David Ortiz, who put forth his seventh 30-homer/100-RBI season and hit .309 to boot.

Boston was criticized for giving outfielder Shane Victorino a 3-year, $39 million deal this offseason, but the Flying Hawaiian was one of the team's top performers this season, hitting .294 with 15 home runs, 61 RBI, 82 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.

Not to mention Victorino has had a penchant for coming up big in the postseason, as he has driven in 30 runs in 46 playoff games.

"He's added a grit to this team that we've seen repeatedly with the pain threshold in which he's played with," Farrell said. "He's been banged up for a lot of the year, but it hasn't forced him out of the lineup for really extended periods, and he gives us a well-rounded player both offensively and defensively in that 2-hole. He can play the small game. We've seen his ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark. He's a smart baseball player. He keeps things lively in the clubhouse, as I'm sure you all have seen. He's been a very good addition to this club."

One player to watch this series could be outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed most of September with a compression fracture in his right foot. The soon-to-be free agent, though, hit .298 this season and stole 52 bases.

The Red Sox as a team stole 123 bases this season, but it will be interesting to see if Ellsbury's foot allows him to be active in October.

If you are looking for an MVP on this Red Sox club you may have to look to the bullpen where right-hander Koji Uehara stepped up, as both Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were lost for the season with injuries, and saved 21 games while pitching to a remarkable 1.09 ERA.

Uehara, whose ERA was the best in the majors of any pitcher with 50 or more innings, also posted a mind-blowing 0.57 walks plus hits per nine innings - the lowest WHIP in baseball history by a pitcher who logged at least 50 innings, surpassing by a considerable margin the 0.61 standard set by Dennis Eckersley in 1989.

He didn't walk a batter over his final 22 appearances and posted a 0.72 in save chances.

"When you're surprised that he gives up a baserunner, that means he's having a pretty good year," said reliever Craig Breslow. "Maybe my metrics are a little bit subjective, but when you can't remember the last time a guy's been on base, he's having a good year. He's been absolutely dominant, especially considering that coming into the season he was probably the third, fourth, fifth option to close."

Tampa, meanwhile, has been in postseason mode for a while now. In fact, after a mad dash just to put themselves into the wild card mix at the end of the season, the Rays have already played two elimination games.

Pitching has been Tampa's calling card and that was again the case in Wednesday's wild card matchup with Cleveland, as Alex Cobb tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, Delmon Young belted a solo homer and Desmond Jennings hit a two-run double to carry the Rays past the Indians, 4-0.

The Rays had thrown a team-record 17 shutouts during the regular season, including four in their final 18 games.

Tampa's season nearly ended Sunday, but it kept it alive by winning the last game of the regular season in Toronto. A day later, the Rays clinched their fourth postseason trip in six years by upending the Texas Rangers in a one- game tiebreaker to capture the AL's second wild card spot.

"That's three different difficult venues ... all in enemy territory," Tampa manager Joe Maddon said of his club's recent stretch. "I'm so proud of our guys. It was outstanding to watch and I was very proud."

As good as Boston's starters were this season, Tampa's were even better with a 3.81 ERA. None were better than lefty Matt Moore, who will take the ball in Game 1 for Maddon's team.

"We feel very confident about our pitchers pitching against anybody, and we've done well," Maddon said. "Part of that is we talked about that prior to the fact that our guys are used to pitching or playing in that venue, whether it's Yankee Stadium packed, Fenway Park packed, we kind of dig it."

Moore, who tossed seven scoreless innings in his only other postseason start back in 2011, was fantastic in his second full season, going 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts.

The 24-year-old hurler pitched well against the Red Sox in two starts during the regular season, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings. He gave up three runs in six innings in a 5-3 win at Tropicana Field on May 14 before throwing his first career shutout on July 22 at Fenway Park.

The Rays are an amazing 82-18 when they allow four runs or less. Keeping Boston in check could be a chore, though, as the Red Sox were the only team in the league to have scored more than 800 runs.

Tampa's pitching will have to be on the mark, as the offense ranked just ninth in the American League with 700 runs scored. It's a lineup, though, that is built to grind out wins.

Third baseman Evan Longoria is as vital to the Rays' offensive attack as Ortiz is to the Red Sox. Longo remained relatively healthy this season and hit .269 with 32 home runs and 88 RBI. Of his 19 postseason hits, 13 of them have gone for extra bases.

Of course these teams are no stranger to one another. Boston, though, dominated the season series, taking 12 of the 19 matchups.

"They really pitched well against us," Maddon said. "We just did not swing the bats well, and that speaks to their pitching. They have a really good pitching staff. They have a great starting staff. They have a tremendous bullpen. I do anticipate a lot of the same in the playoffs as we continue."

Tampa actually beat the Red Sox in seven games back in 2008 to advance to the World Series in the only other postseason series between the clubs.

10/04 10:25:23 ET

  • Big 10: Michigan at Michigan State

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA Golf: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Super Bowl: Seattle vs. New England

    Tomorrow at 6:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC Women: Louisville at Duke

    Monday at 7:00 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State at Wake Forest

    Tuesday at 8:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Anaheim

    Tuesday at 10:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
 
Final
ORL 93
DAL 108
Final
IND 94
SAC 99
Final
WAS 116
TOR 120
Final
DET 114
HOU 101
Final
ATL 91
PHI 85
Final
MIN 90
CLE 106
Final
MEM 85
OKC 74
Final
MIL 95
POR 88
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
 
4th
SAN 70
LAC 87
 
2nd
GSW 30
PHO 40
 
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
Final
LEH 89
BU 86
 
Final
MARQ 68
BUT 72
Final
DEL 71
COC 68
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
Final
LOYC 45
ILLST 48
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
Final
MSST 73
LSU 67
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
Final
VCU 55
RICH 64
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
Final
DEP 55
VILL 68
Final
WAKE 73
VT 70
Final
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
Final
FAM 44
COOK 61
 
Final
NDAK 80
IDST 69
 
Final
ARMY 71
GHND 77
 
Final
BEL 71
TENT 53
 
Final
TXSA 57
UAB 65
Final
ILLCH 65
VALPO 70
 
Final
DRAK 70
EVAN 65
 
Final
IND 72
RUTG 64
Final
UMO 79
BST 73
 
Final
RMU 68
BRY 71
 
Final
WAGN 86
CCST 55
 
Final
GWEBB 66
CCAR 64
 
Final
MDES 92
COPST 82
 
Final
RFLSH 68
FD 63
 
Final
RIU 59
GWU 55
Final
SCAR 67
UGA 50
Final
Terriers 81
LIU 64
 
Final
PAC 71
LMU 76
 
Final
STLU 56
UMASS 60
Final
HOW 64
MRGST 48
 
Final
DREX 85
UNCW 76
 
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
MIZZ 47
MISS 67
Final
ALCOR 56
SOUTH 65
 
Final
NIOWA 70
WICHS 54
Final
JMU 65
WMARY 84
 
Final
RAD 73
WINT 66
 
Final
EILL 57
SIUE 54
 
Final
UNCA 70
CAMP 63
 
Final
MORE 57
EKENT 66
 
Final
NICST 58
INCWORD 69
 
Final
CMICH 74
OHIO 69
 
Final
TEXAM 69
VANDY 58
Final
UWMIL 78
DET 74
 
Final
UNCG 73
WCU 78
 
Final
EWASH 98
IDAHO 95
 
Final
SDKST 69
DEN 39
 
Final
SHSU 63
HOUB 52
 
Final
MVSU 75
JST 62
 
Final
TXST 63
LALAF 72
 
Final
LATU 81
MARS 57
Final
SD 72
ORU 73
 
Final
LAMON 67
SALA 61
 
Final
PVU 89
ALAAM 63
 
Final
GRAM 53
ARKPB 65
 
Final
PRIN 64
DART 53
 
Final
SCST 78
DELST 74
 
Final
COLST 80
FRES 57
Final
MINN 60
NEB 42
Final
WYO 63
NEV 55
Final
GAELS 62
PEPP 67
 
Final
NW 60
PURD 68
Final
BAY 83
TEX 60
Final
CHAT 78
CITA 73
 
Final
SMISS 62
WKENT 73
Final
CORN 57
YALE 65
 
Final
NORST 63
HAMP 60
 
Final
SAV 59
NCAT 62
 
Final
BGU 68
AKR 69
 
Final
KENT 70
ALA 55
Final
CLMB 86
BRO 65
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CSOU
 
Final
LIB 62
CSOU 74
 
Final
BUCK 69
COL 71
 
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
NE 80
ELON 61
 
Final
CHAR 70
FIU 78
Final
ODU 68
FATL 57
Final
SAMF 68
FUR 58
 
Final
DUQ 62
GMAS 53
Final
PENN 38
HARV 63
 
Final
LBSU 65
HAW 50
 
Final
BONA 56
LAS 66
Final
NAVY 65
LAF 74
 
Final
PBY 67
LONG 71
 
Final
WOFF 49
MERC 46
 
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
MCNST 68
NO 61
 
Final
FLGC 74
NKENTUCKY 64
 
Final
IONA 68
PETE 61
 
Final
UNF 74
USCU 79
 
Final
LAM 84
ABCHRIST 74
 
Final
GSOUT 76
ARKLR 61
 
Final
STEPH 61
TAMCC 51
 
Final
UCR 66
CSNO 62
 
Final
SELA 73
NWST 88
 
Final
OKST 56
OKLA 64
Final
UNT 75
RICE 65
Final
SDU 77
USF 69
 
Final
NMU 67
SJST 41
Final
PEAY 64
SEMIZ 70
 
Final
NILL 69
TOL 80
 
Final
HOF 72
TOWS 86
 
Final
SMU 75
UCF 56
Final
MURST 65
TENNM 62
 
Final
SDST 62
UTST 42
Final
MIZST 52
SILL 46
 
Final
TXARL 54
TROY 55
 
Final
TXSOU 80
ALAST 65
 
Final
TENST 45
JVST 43
 
Final
WASU 89
STAN 88
 
Final
GRCN 55
CHIST 56
 
Final
UTEP 83
MTST 70
 
Final
SUTAH 60
NARZ 81
 
Final
BYU 78
SCU 57
 
Final
NMST 53
TXPA 48
 
Final
NCOL 71
WEBER 57
 
2nd
UNLV 45
AFA 37
 
2nd
UCD 43
CPSL 47
 
Half
GONZ 43
MEM 25
 
2nd
UCI 54
UCSB 38
 
2nd
SACST 41
MONT 47
 
2nd
PORST 58
MNTST 43
 
1st
UCLA 27
COL 21
 
Half
CALST 29
SEAT 29
 
1st
WLVRN 25
UMKC 23
 
Final
DET 4
NYI 1
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
WIN 2
DAL 5
Final
NJD 3
FLA 1
Final
PHI 1
TOR 0
Final
TAM 3
CLB 1
2nd
CAL 0
EDM 2
 
1st Intermission
SJS 1
CHI 0