Tampa Bay vs Boston Preview and Prediction
Major Baseball’s postseason is in full swing with the division series underway or starting today. One of the two division series in the American League has the AL East Champions the Boston Red Sox against AL East rivals and wildcard winner the Tampa Bay Rays.
This is Boston’s first appearance in three seasons in the postseason. They missed out in 2011 thanks to a September collapse and in 2012 following their worst record for the franchise in the past 48 seasons.
This season however, Boston tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best overall record in baseball, scored the most runs in the majors and transformed their clubhouse into a place players enjoyed. That in turn helped to produce 28 more victories this season than last season.
Tampa Bay ended the season six games behind Boston. However, the Rays have won 10 of its past 12 games including defeating Texas in the 163rd game of the regular season and Cleveland in the wildcard.
The Rays also will have their two ace southpaws to start the series. Matt Moore, who was 17-4 on the season and 9-1 over his past 13 outings and David Price, who was 10-8 on the season, but threw a complete game win over Texas in the play-in game.
Over a period of eight days during July, Moore and Price were 3-0 against Boston in Fenway with each having one complete game. Add to that the fact Tampa Bay is 14-2 when Moore starts on the road and the Red Sox have some things to worry about.
Boston will open the series on Friday with Jon Lester on the mound. Lester was 15-8 on the season, but an impressive 5-1 with an ERA of 2.22 over his last eight outings. Since returning from the All-Star break, Lester is 7-2 with an ERA of just 2.57.
Last season Lester suffered through his worst pro season with a record of 9-14 and an ERA of 4.82.
The Red Sox will compensate for Tampa’s lefthanders on the mound with Jonny Gomes starting in left field in games 1 and 2. Boston will also use starting catch Jarrod Saltalamacchia in game one and his back up David Ross in game 2.
Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox third baseman will be a key hitter in Boston’s lineup in games 1 and 2 due to being a right-handed hitter.
Both teams are very familiar with one another, as they have played head to head 19 times during the regular season. Boston won the season series 12-7.
Nevertheless, the Rays are playing excellent baseball going 9-2 to end the season and then winning the wildcard.
This series could be won or lost in the first two games in Boston, with Tampa sending its firepower on the mound against the Sox.
Game one: Boston 4-2
Series: Boston 3-1