Tampa Bay won three “Game 7’s” this past week to reach the ALDS including a complete game from David Price in Monday’s win over the Texas Rangers in the wild-car tiebreaker game. With the loss the Rays will need a win in Monday’s Game 3 at Tropicana Field to avoid elimination and a sweep by the Red Sox in the best-of-five series.
"It's going to be difficult. There's no question it's going to be difficult… but I don't think it's impossible by any means. We've been in this boat in the past and we've forced Game 5's in those situations,” said Maddon.
David Price was looking for his first postseason win as a starter (he has one in relief) and to help avenge the Rays Friday’s 12-2 pounding by the Red Sox in Game 1 of the division series. However, he couldn’t repeat the feat as he allowed seven runs on nine hits in eight innings before being removed following David Ortiz’s second home run of the game.
It wasn’t that Price necessarily pitched poorly, it was the fact that Boston seemed to have figured him out from the start of the game as they reached him for two runs in the opening inning, two more in the third and scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings.
"He had one moment there where he was missing fastball up and away to somebody, and then he did definitely miss location there on Ortiz at the end with that home run," Joe Maddon said. "The first home run was a cutter down the middle. But [he had] overall fastball command, and he kept getting better."
For the first time in his career, Price allowed six-hits to left-handed hitters which included a combined 7-for-15 from Boston’s first four hitters (Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz) in the lineup who also scored five runs, drove in six with four extra-base hits.
"You're as good as your last game, and tonight I wasn't very good. Honestly, I thought I was pretty good tonight, but that team just beat me. That's a very good team, and I've said that for quite a while now,” said Price.
Price has owned the Sox over his career, especially at Fenway where he entered the game with a 6-1 record and 1.88 ERA with two complete games in 10 starts. In his last Fenway start back on July 29, Price became the first starter to beat the Sox twice within a span of five days.
John Lackey, Boston’s starter earned his first postseason win as a member of the Red Sox. In 5-1/3 innings he allowed four runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
The Rays got on the board in the top of the second as Delmon Young’s sacrifice fly cut the Red Sox lead to 2-1 and would not score again until the fifth inning when it looked as though the Rays would finally break through with a big inning.
James Loney doubled to drive in two, cutting the lead to 4-3 and Evan Longoria followed that up with a walk to put runners on first and second with Ben Zobrist now at the plate. Unfortunately, the runners were stranded as Lackey struck out Zobrist looking to end the inning.
In the top of the sixth, the Rays scored again to make it 6-4 as Yunel Escobar belted a single to right that knocked Lackey out of the game.
Game 5 (If Necessary): Thursday, Oct.10, 5:37 p.m.** (8:00 p.m. if Tigers-A's series is over), TBS @ Boston
Rays: TBA Boston: TBA
Rays hitters managed just eight hits and grounded into three double plays.
Ortiz became the first left-handed batter to hit two home runs in a game off David Price (regular season or post-season) and only once before had Price allowed two home runs to left-handed hitters in a game (Robin Cano and Curtis Granderson).
Price allowed more than four runs to the Red Sox for the first time in his career, regular season and postseason, a stretch of 20 games.
Ben Zobrist's nine-game postseason hitting streak ended Saturday. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Monday’s Game 3 at Tropicana Field sold out on Friday with the exception of a few scattered single seat. Tickets for Game 4 are still available through raysbaseball.com.
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