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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

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
Final
LAL 94
DEN 101
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
Final
NE 65
MAN 51
Final
COLST 75
MERC 62
Final
MISS 80
NARZ 74
Final
WASH 76
PAC 69
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
Final
CHAR 58
MIAMI 77
Final
GAELS 72
UCI 69
Final
ILLST 64
ODU 45
Final
UCLA 77
LBSU 63
2nd
SEAT 59
MONT 58
 
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
 
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
 
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
 
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
 
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
 
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
 
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
 
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
 
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
 
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
 
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
 
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
 
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
Final
ANA 2
ARI 1
Final
VAN 4
CHI 1
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
Final
NYG 28
DAL 31
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL