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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

  • Sun Bowl: Duke vs. Arizona State

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Teams TBD

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • NFL: Teams TBD

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Oakland at Denver

    Sunday at 4:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Denver at Cincinnati

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Louisiana Tech at NC State

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Devils

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Rice

    Wednesday at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
DEN
 
7:00pm Tonight
ECU
FAM
 
8:00pm Tonight
JST
NCCU
 
Final
TOR 118
NYK 108
Final
CLE 105
MEM 91
Final
MIA 100
BOS 84
Final
BRK 110
DET 105
Final
SAC 108
LAL 101
Final
ORL 88
PHI 96
Final
WAS 92
PHO 104
Final
MIN 96
IND 100
Final
OKC 99
NOP 101
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
POR
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
UTA
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
ATL
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
SAC
 
2:00pm Today
MEM
BYU
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
Final
LIP 69
PEAY 63
 
Final
DEN 46
BRY 48
 
Final
MONT 62
SD 67
 
Final
MTST 65
TENST 47
Final
SAMF 64
LAMON 50
 
Final
SCAR 78
COKR 52
 
Final
HAMP 75
NARZ 66
 
Final
SDU 71
SDCHR 61
 
Final
BC 71
USC 75
Final
NICST 64
TROY 65
 
Final
BRAD 47
UCI 55
 
Final
UGA 65
SHU 47
Final
ALA 60
APP 59
Final
KSU 53
NDST 52
 
Final
WASU 82
SJST 53
Final
UTEP 78
ALCOR 45
 
Final
SEAT 66
SACST 47
 
2:00pm Today
BRAD
ARKLR
 
2:00pm Today
CCST
BRO
 
2:00pm Today
NW
ILLCH
 
2:00pm Today
FSU
STET
 
2:30pm Today
GWU
OHIO
 
3:00pm Today
KNST
ELON
 
3:00pm Today
ARKPB
SUTAH
 
4:00pm Today
PSU
DART
 
4:30pm Today
COL
DEP
 
4:30pm Today
UCI
UWGB
 
5:00pm Tonight
PORT
L
 
5:30pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
SCST
 
6:00pm Tonight
PURD
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NKENTUCKY
IDAHO
 
6:00pm Tonight
FORD
MAN
 
6:00pm Tonight
OSU
UMO
 
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MSU
CITA
 
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GSOUT
TRUETT
 
7:00pm Tonight
WMICH
ALAAM
 
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MNTER
BING
 
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WAKE
BUCK
 
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SYR
COL
 
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RMU
DEL
 
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VCU
ETST
 
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FATL
EKENT
 
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GTDNS
FAIR
 
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ECU
FAM
 
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ILLST
MAST
 
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TEMPL
KU
 
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PRIN
LIB
 
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UNH
LIU
 
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BONA
MDES
 
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TENN
MERC
 
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JMU
NORST
 
7:00pm Tonight
ALCOR
NDST
 
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ND
NILL
 
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CLEM
OU
 
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UCF
SELA
 
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NAVY
TOWS
 
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BUT
TENNM
 
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VT
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ODU
WMARY
 
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IND
NO
 
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UCONN
CLMB
 
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STJ
LBSU
 
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WVU
WOFF
 
8:00pm Tonight
MCNST
CMICH
 
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COLST
CSOU
 
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SIUE
CHIST
 
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MICH
COPST
 
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MINN
FUR
 
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TCU
GRAM
 
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TULSA
INCWORD
 
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TTU
LOYC
 
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JST
NCCU
 
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IOWA
UNF
 
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VANDY
PENN
 
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LAM
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MISS
SEMIZ
 
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BAY
SOUTH
 
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CHAT
UAB
 
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OKLA
WEBER
 
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SILL
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MIZST
ORU
 
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DRAK
SIMPSON
 
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UMKC
TENT
 
9:00pm Tonight
LSU
COC
 
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AFA
JVST
 
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UTEP
KSU
 
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PROV
MIAMI
 
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ARK
UWMIL
 
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MARQ
NDAK
 
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GAELS
NE
 
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NMST
NNM
 
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NCOL
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OREG
UCSB
 
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CAL
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EWASH
LCST
 
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PORST
WALLA
 
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NEV
MARS
 
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CSFU
TAMCC
 
10:30pm Tonight
HOU
BSU
 
11:00pm Tonight
WICHS
LMU
 
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WASH
TULA
 
11:00pm Tonight
SDST
UCR
 
Final
DET 1
COL 2
Final
EDM 5
DAL 6
Final
BOS 4
BUF 3
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
Final
CHI 4
TOR 0
Final
WIN 3
PHI 4
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
NAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
OTT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
PIT
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ARI
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAL
 
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
Final
MIA 37
MIN 35
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
Final
STL 27
NYG 37
Final
OAK 26
BUF 24
Final
DAL 42
IND 7
Final
ARI 6
SEA 35
8:30pm Tonight
CIN
DEN