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It’s the Rays: Tampa Bay beats Indians to advance to ALDS against Red Sox

10.02.13 at 11:48 pm ET
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David Price could be in line to pitch Games 2 and 5 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. (AP)

David Price could be in line to pitch Games 2 and 5 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. (AP)

The Red Sox will face a familiar opponent as they open the playoffs, as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Indians, 4-0, in the wild card playoff game to advance to the best-of-five American League Division Series against the Sox. (For a game recap, click here.) Rays starter Alex Cobb remained in control throughout his outing, despite the presence of a number of baserunners, scattering eight hits (three doubles, five singles) over 6 1/3 shutout innings in which he spotted his high-80s fastball and complemented it with a hammer curve en route to five punchouts while walking just one.

The Rays got all the offense they needed when Delmon Young unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from Indians starter Danny Salazar and crushed it to left-center for a solo home run to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Young has nine homers in the last three postseasons, more than any other player in the game. Of those, five have come on the first pitch. Desmond Jennings added a two-run double in the top of the fourth to give the Rays a pad, and Tampa Bay got an insurance run in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Cobb kept the Indians at arm’s length. He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, inducing a groundball double play from Asdrubal Cabrera. He likewise escaped a first-and-third, no-out jam in the fifth with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts. Finally, after the Indians collected a pair of one-out hits in the seventh, Cobb got a flyout before turning over the ball to Joel Peralta, who punched out Nick Swisher  to suppress Cleveland’s last significant threat.

The Sox took the season series from Tampa Bay, going 12-7 against their AL East rival — 5-3 in Tampa Bay and 7-4 in Boston. Overall, Boston’s pitchers had a 2.93 ERA against the Rays — their lowest mark against any team they faced more than three times.  The two foes have a far-reaching familiarity with one another.

“Tampa, we have the benefit of 19 games under our belt with them this year,” Sox manager John Farrell noted on Wednesday afternoon. ”We know they’re going to pitch well, we’re likely to be involved in a low-scoring game. To control their left-handed hitters is critical from our standpoint, and that’s not to say that [Evan] Longoria, [Wil] Myers and other right-handers in that lineup can’t do damage. But when they’ve scored a number of runs, it’s what their left-handed hitters have done.”

Game 1 of the American League Division Series is scheduled to start at 3:07 p.m. at Fenway Park. The Rays could turn to left-hander Matt Moore on normal (four days’) rest. Moore was 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA with 8.6 strikeouts and 4.5 walks per nine innings in 27 starts during the regular season. In two starts against the Red Sox, he was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, 12 strikeouts and three walks in 15 innings, including a complete-game shutout. In theory, Tampa Bay could feature Moore in Game 1, David Price in Game 2, Cobb in Game 3 and Chris Archer in Game 4 before turning to either Moore or Price (who would be pitching on four days’ rest) for a potential Game 5. The Red Sox have already announced that their rotation will consist of Jon Lester and John Lackey in Games 1 and 2 respectively, followed by Clay Buchholz in Game 3 and Jake Peavy in a potential Game 4.

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