According to Jerry Spar of WEEI.com, Henry talked about the challenge of facing the Rays while on the radio show, Mut & Merloni:
I was watching the game last night, and I probably would have preferred to play Cleveland, because Tampa is so tough, Henry said. We play them 19 times a year. Every game is tough. We got the better of it this year. But their pitching is extraordinary. And our offense is the best in baseball. So it should make for an exciting three, four or five games.
When you consider the Rays are on a hot streak after having won games over Texas and Cleveland to get to the ALDS, you can't blame Henry for feeling that way.
But there are other reasons why Henry is disappointed Cleveland didn't win the game.
Terry Francona In the Playoffs
Despite a falling-out with Francona after the 2011 season, Henry would have loved to see him back in Boston for the playoffs. According to Spar's article, “It would have added an extra dimension, no doubt about it,” Henry said. “It would be sort of like playing the Dodgers in the World Series.”
Having Francona back in Boston would have generated massive ratings for baseball and would have been the series to watch in the divisional round.
It would have been Francona's chance to get back at his former club when it counted the most. And for the Red Sox, it would have been their chance to show they can win the big one without Tito as the manager.
There were so many storylines just waiting to happen if Cleveland had won, but to the disappointment of many, it didn't.
The Pitching Battle
Matt Moore and David Price are scheduled to start Games 1 and 2. Moore is 17-4 on the year with a 3.24 ERA, while Price is coming off of a complete-game effort against the Texas Rangers on Monday.
In five starts against the Red Sox this year, Price is 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings, while Moore is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings over two starts.
So, despite having a rotation of Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA), John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA), Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) and Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA), Henry knows the Rays are just as good in the starting rotation.
Here's how the rotations compare against each other:
|Boston Red Sox||95||3.79||1.30||1,294||.248||8|
|Tampa Bay Rays||80||3.74||1.23||1,310||.240||17|
Outside of quality starts for Boston and shutouts for Tampa Bay, these two teams are very comparable when it comes to the starting rotation. In essence, it's a coin flip.
Who will win the series between the Red Sox and Rays?
When you're the team with the best record in the American League, a coin flip is not something you want to be dealing with in the playoffs.
Only Five Games
When it comes down to it, any team would like their chances against Cleveland in five games as opposed to the Rays.
The playoffs are all about pitching, and that's something the Rays have more of than the Red Sox.
They've already won two one-game playoffs and are riding a huge wave of emotion. For the Red Sox, it's going to take a lot to suppress that emotion and take care of business.
In the end, it's not about what's been done before, but what you do in the moment. The team that does that the best will come out on top.