Saturday, October 5, 2013

Red Sox Roll Over Rays

Lester gets fired up as he silences Tampa Bay's bats (Boston Herald)
The Red Sox earned their first postseason win since 2008 by pummeling the Tampa Bay Rays in yesterday's Division Series opener.

The Red Sox won 12-2 behind a strong performance from Jon Lester and a ferocious hitting attack from the best offense in baseball. Even though Lester got off to a great start, striking out the first four batters he faced (much to the delight of the Fenway Faithful), it was the Rays who took the early lead.  Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist smacked solo home runs over the Monster, staking Matt Moore to an early lead.

But the Red Sox, as they have so often this year, came back. Trailing 2-0, Boston's bats picked up their ace in the bottom of fourth. The Sox scored five runs and batted around, capitalizing on several defensive miscues by the Rays. Jonny Gomes knotted the score with a two-run double off the Monster--his first career postseason hit--and that was the last of Tampa Bay's lead. The Sox tacked on three more while making Moore throw 33 pitches in the frame.

With Moore clearly laboring, Boston drove him from the game in the fifth following a two-run double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Red Sox sent nine men to the plate in the fifth and padded their lead to 8-2, essentially putting the game out of reach. Lester held the Rays in check, coming within four outs of a complete game before turning it over to the bullpen. Junichi Tazawa finished off the eighth for him, getting Wil Myers to fly out and strand James Loney and Desmond Jennings on the basepaths.

Joe Maddon brought in journeyman Jamey Wright for mop-up duty, but Boston was far from done. The Red Sox ripped off four more runs to put the exclamation mark on their big day--12 runs on 14 hits, none of which cleared the fences. Ryan Dempster came on to close out the win, getting Yunel Escobar to ground out and end the game.

The Red Sox will try to take a 2-0 series advantage today as John Lackey squares up against the American League's defending Cy Young winner David Price. It's a matchup featuring the man who clinched Boston's first division title since 2007 versus the hero who pitched Tampa Bay to victory in Game 163. Let's get it on.

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