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Rays pregame notes: Joe Maddon hoping Wil Myers’ ‘oblivious nature’ pays off; Delmon Young gets nod over Matt Joyce in Game 2 10.05.13 at 5:48 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

Rays rookie right fielder Wil Myers had an eventful — to say the least — Game 1 Friday afternoon, but Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon isn’t running away from him. Maddon chalked up Myers’ game-changing defensive gaffe to a “mental mistake,” and hopes the talented 22-year-old can block out what could very well be a raucous Fenway crowd Saturday night.

“I hope his oblivious nature really takes over today,” Maddon said. “One of the things that I thought really helped him coming into this baseball season is that when I got to know him, he was not overwhelmed with anything.

“I talked to him this morning. He was in good spirits. … I thought he was in a good place today. So we’ll see how it plays out.”

Myers, who was the big return in the deal that sent James Shields to Kansas City last winter, hit .293 with a .478 slugging percentage and 15 homers after his mid-June callup to the majors.

Maddon wouldn’t be surprised to see Myers turn it up in Game 2.

“Beyond [the mental error], it could be exacerbated by the Fenway faithful, when they’re going to get quite loud right there,” Maddon said. “If he channels that properly, it could work to his advantage actually. There’s a lot of great players in the history of sport that like to be booed or maybe have your name chanted loudly.

“If he could possibly channel it in a positive direction, you might see a couple of balls fly over the wall today.”

OTHER RAYS NOTES

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Red Sox ALDS Game 2 lineup: David Ross, Jonny Gomes start vs. Rays LHP David Price at 3:09 pm ET
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David Ross (AP)

David Ross (AP)

It’s a limited sample, of course, but when the opponent is David Price, even a hint of success will suffice to inspire a lineup alteration. That is the case for the Red Sox as they look to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS on Saturday.

The team will turn to David Ross behind the plate against Price. Ross has just five career plate appearances against Price, but he’s homered in two of them. Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a career line of .071/.176/.143 in 17 career plate appearances against the 2012 Cy Young winner. Those lines, coupled with the fact that Saturday starter John Lackey has had some difficulty controlling the running game (opponents were successful in 36 of 43 stolen base attempts against him in the regular season) and that Ross is viewed as one of the best in the game at controlling opponents on the bases, led to the decision to start Ross (in the No. 9 spot) while sitting Saltalamacchia.

“He’s important to us,” manager John Farrell said of the decision to start Ross. “These are the situations [why] we signed him – against a left-handed starter, a good one and taking advantage of David’s abilities.”

With Ross in the lineup, Will Middlebrooks moved up from the No. 9 to the No. 7 spot in the order. Jonny Gomes remains in the lineup in left field against the left-hander, with Daniel Nava sitting.

Lackey, meanwhile, will be making his first playoff start for the Red Sox. His past success on the postseason stage (including a victory in Game 7 of the World Series as a rookie in 2002) played a part in the Sox’ decision to sign the right-hander to a five-year, $82.5 million deal after the 2009 season. In 14 career playoff games (12 starts), Lackey is just 3-4 but with a 3.12 ERA in 78 innings.

For complete batter vs. starting pitcher matchup information, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: John Lackey vs. David Price at 9:36 am ET
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After a Game 1 victory for the Red Sox, John Lackey will take the mound on Saturday, looking to dig Tampa Bay a two-game hole, while Rays left-hander David Price will oppose him.

John Lackey

John Lackey

Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) has not taken the mound since Sept. 24, when Boston fell to the Rockies 8-3 at Coors Field. Lackey surrendered four runs on three homers in six innings, and took his 13th loss.

“Not our best night from the mound,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “I thought John made a couple of mistakes he had to pay for, particularly in a ballpark where you put the ball in the air, it’s going to carry. The three home runs allowed were not common for him as strong as he’s pitched for us all year. In that seventh inning, we let that game get away from us with the four-run inning.”

The 11-year pro went through a rough month of September, as his ERA rose from 3.19 after an Aug. 28 start against Baltimore to 3.52 by season’s end.

Lackey received the Game 2 start over a perhaps more deserving (at least statistically) Clay Buchholz largely because of his home-road splits this season. He possesses an ERA more than two points lower at home than on the road (2.47 to 4.48). In addition, 18 of his 26 home runs allowed came away from Fenway. He posted a 6-3 record at Fenway compared to a 4-10 record away from Boston.

His last postseason appearance came with the Angels in 2009. Los Angeles defeated Boston in the ALDS and Lackey earned one of the three victories, shutting out the Red Sox over 7 1/3 innings. Against the Yankees in the ALCS, Lackey produced a 3.65 ERA but also a 1.703 WHIP in two starts. The burly right-hander owns a 3.12 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in 78 career postseason innings.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Price, John Farrell, john lackey
Rays pregame notes: Travel not a problem for road warrior Rays; David Price uses Hubway to travel to and from Fenway 10.04.13 at 3:48 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

Game 1 of the American League Division Series will be the Rays’ sixth contest in four cities in a week. None of those cities were the Rays’ hometown, and two of the games were of the win-or-go-home variety.

But Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, whose team had exactly one off day in September, downplayed the idea that the Rays are worn out from the travel and do-or-die situations in which they have found themselves.

“There’s also energy to be derived from that, too,” Maddon said before the start of Game 1 of the ALDS series against the Red Sox. “As you’re physically tired, I mean, mentally if you could find some energy, that’s a good thing to counteract that. When you win games like that the group benefit is incredible. As a group you feel like you could do anything. You could beat anybody.

“So you have to balance all that out. Yeah, it would be nice not to be on the road this long, but it is kind of cool we did.”

Indeed, the Rays spent Thursday in Boston, and the manager noted they all had a good night’s sleep as a result — a factor that can work wonders for a team that has been on the road for so long.

“The clubhouse, they seem to be in good order right now,” Maddon said. “I understand why people would say these things, but there’s energy to be derived from these moments, too.”

OTHER RAYS NOTES

David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer — the list goes on. It’s no secret the Rays have made a habit of developing good, young pitching, and the rest of the league has had no choice but to take note. Those arms are front and center as the Red Sox and Rays start their American League Division Series at Fenway Park.

Friday afternoon, hours before the first pitch of Game 1, Sox manager John Farrell went as far to say that Tampa Bay “might be the model when it comes to drafting, developing, starting pitching.”

Tampa lefty Price, slated to start Game 2 Saturday, suggested there was a particular plan or process that the front office institutes. But Maddon said there is no secret formula that allows them to do it — just patience.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. David Price 09.10.13 at 9:46 am ET
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Clay Buchholz makes his long-awaited return from the disabled list when he faces reigning AL Cy Young award winner David Price and the Rays on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz spent more than three months on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Buchholz will be on a 75-80 pitch limit against second-place Tampa Bay, which enters the three-game series 7½ games behind Boston in the AL East.

“At a certain point, yeah, I didn’t really think I’d be able to throw or let it go again. That’s what I was feeling. That feeling’s gone, and I feel good now,” said Buchholz after a bullpen session Sunday. “Mentally I’m ready. I think that’s what everyone was questioning — mental toughness and everything. But I know my body better than everybody else does. I’m comfortable pitching now. There’s nothing wrong that’s come up.”

Through more than two months, Buchholz was enjoying his best season of his seven-year career. In 84 1/3 innings, the righty produced career highs in ERA (1.71) and WHIP (1.02), and his best strikeout-per-nine ratio (8.5) since 2008. He also posted an unblemished 9-0 record.

Buchholz made his last start on June 8, a 7-2 win against the Angels, when he gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Buchholz faced the Rays at Fenway Park in his third start of the season, and he dazzled. He struck out a career-high 11 in eight innings and allowed just two hits and zero runs.

Price, who led the AL in ERA (2.56) and wins (20) en route to winning the 2012 AL Cy Young award, enters Tuesday’s game on a cold streak.

His ERA over his last five outings sits at 4.78. In his last start, Price was roughed up the Angels for six runs and 11 hits in seven innings. The 11 hits were the most Price has allowed since May 10, 2012.

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Buster Olney on M&M: Rays’ schedule, lack of production from star bats could doom them in AL East race 09.04.13 at 2:05 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and talked about the uphill battle the Rays face in catching the Red Sox for the AL East title, particularly considering Tampa Bay’s difficult schedule down the stretch.

After a Tampa Bay loss to the Angels combined with a Red Sox win Tuesday night, the Rays dropped 5½ games behind Boston with 25 games remaining.

Those remaining 25 games include the conclusion of a West Coast trip with the Angels and Mariners, followed by a three-game series with the Red Sox, an eight-game homestand vs. the Rangers and the Orioles, and road trips to the Yankees, Twins and Blue Jays.

Of equal concern to Olney was the previous two weeks for the Rays.

“I had the Rays as having the toughest schedule in the majors in the second half among the contenders, but I don’t think I so much focused on the 37 games in 38 days thing like I should have,” Olney said.

On Aug. 23, the Rays started a 38-day stretch of playing 37 games. Those games included and include pivotal AL East series vs. the Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles, a makeup game with the Royals wedged between two home series, and a 10-day West Coast trip.

“The idea that even among their few homestands they had left down the stretch, they had to have the one-game makeup where they play a home game in Tampa Bay, then fly to Kansas City, then fly back and play three games against the Angels, then head out on the West Coast … it’s a meat grinder,” Olney said.

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Read More: Ben Zobrist, Clay Buchholz, David Price, Evan Longoria
Daniel Nava’s short night features game-changing baserunning blunder, blown call at home in loss to Rays 07.30.13 at 1:22 am ET
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John Farrell, Daniel Nava and Brian Butterfield took issue with Jerry Meals' call at home plate Monday night. (AP)

John Farrell, Daniel Nava and Brian Butterfield took issue with Jerry Meals’ call at home plate Monday night. (AP)

Daniel Nava got mad — real mad — Monday night, and part of the anger was with himself.

One batter after he failed to score from second on Stephen Drew’s double to deep right field with one out in the eighth, Nava was called out at home by umpire Jerry Meals despite beating the throw from Rays left fielder Sam Fuld following Brandon Snyder’s line drive of medium depth to left. The play proved crucial as the Red Sox fell, 2-1, to the Rays, who moved back into first place by a half-game over the Sox.

The outcome got the attention of Red Sox owner John Henry, who shortly after the game tweeted, “A 2-game impact.”

Meals admitted his error to a pool reporter after the game.

“What I saw was: [Jose] Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted,” Meals said. “But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”

Nava, John Farrell and the crowd of 37,242 at Fenway Park agreed. Nava popped up, furious with the missed call, and it didn’t take long for his irate manager to come flying out of the dugout to back him up.

“It was missed call. Terrible call,” said Farrell, who was ejected by a silent Meals while arguing. “Clearly, the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate when the throw came in, he did not see the view. Daniel Nava clearly was safe. It’s unfortunate. We should still be playing right now.”

Added Nava: “There was no doubt. I knew I was safe.”

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