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Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey: ‘There’s no one that says they want the Rays’

10.03.13 at 7:06 am ET
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In the aftermath of the Rays’ third win-or-go-home victory in as many cities over the course of four days (Toronto on Sunday in the regular season finale, Arlington, Texas, on Monday in a tiebreaker game and Cleveland on Tuesday in the wild card game), Rays manager Joe Maddon suggested that his team’s starting staff offered the basis for confidence heading into the American League Division Series against the Red Sox.

“I think we probably hit .207 against them.  I mean, they really pitched well against us.  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,” Maddon told reporters. “I do anticipate a lot of the same in the playoffs as we continue.  We feel very confident about our pitchers pitching against anybody, and we’ve done well.  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. Look at [wild card winning pitcher Alex Cobb] tonight, he loves it.  We’re playing here in Cleveland packed. The guys dig it. I think that’s part of it, why we’re able to perform relatively well there. But by the same token, so do they, and they can really pitch.”

The Red Sox won the season series, 12-7, in a year where pitching was dominant in head-to-head matchups between the two teams. Tampa Bay hurlers had a 3.54 ERA in the 19 contests, with the Sox hitting just .208/.280/.333 in those games. Sox pitchers had a sparkling 2.93 ERA in those contests while holding Rays hitters to a .232/.312/.364 line.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, left-hander Matt Moore will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Rays, while David Price will start Game 2 at Fenway Park. Moore was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts and 15 innings against the Sox this year; Price, in five starts, went 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA and a remarkable 30 strikeouts against just three walks against Boston. That helped to underscore the confidence of the Rays about their team.

“If we win the game [Wednesday], I’d give us as good a chance as anybody,” pitching coach Jim Hickey told the Tampa Bay Times. “Anybody. I don’t think there’s anybody who should be favored over us. ‘€¦

“There’s no question in my mind that there’s no one that says they want the Rays. Absolutely not. Whether it’s Cleveland, Boston, Detroit or Oakland. Nobody’s looking forward to that.”

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