The Boston Red Sox get a second-chance Tuesday night to wrap up their American League Divisional Series when they play the Tampa Bay Rays at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field (TV/Radio: TBS, WEEI-FM and ESPN Radio).
Tampa extended the series to a fourth game Monday night following a 5-4 win.
Monday’s Game 3 saw Tampa come back from three runs down in the fifth to tie on a mammoth home run by the birthday boy, Evan Longoria. They won the game with a two-out walk-off homer by catcher Jose Lobaton off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.
Expect that pace for Game 4.
This will be a game decided by the bullpens. Hellickson struggled this year for Tampa, allowing 185 hits over 174 innings. If Red Sox hitters can be patient again, they could drive him from the game early and put all the pressure on Maddon and crew to pull another win out of the fire.
Hellickson started three times against Boston, winning once and drawing two no decisions. He will strike batters out, but is vulnerable against the long ball. He has not won a start since September 4 in Los Angeles against the Angels and has not pitched past the fifth inning his last two times out.
Peavy is also coming off nearly two weeks rest and did not pitch well in his last start in Colorado against the Rockies..
Although he earned the win, he gave up five earned runs over six innings and walked four. In his last start against Tampa on September 12, he walked five in six innings and did not draw a decision.
If Monday night’s game can be used as a guide, then you should expect the unexpected again.
Tampa expects this series to return to Fenway for a winner-take-all game Thursday. They survived four innings of being the team making the bigger mistakes and having their closer Fernando Rodney blow a save, to grabbing a win off Boston’s best closer in years, Koji Uehara.
Farrell’s job is to get the Sox to forget all that and show the patience and aggressiveness that earned them the first two games. They need to score early and be productive with runners in scoring position.
Neither team left a bullpen pitcher in the game for too long so everyone should be ready to go, especially with an off day Wednesday if Tampa takes Game 4.
The Red Sox also have enough veteran players to weather and storm Tampa can dish out early.
It is enough to make you want to go out and get some coffee and tummy medicine for the long night ahead.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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