2013 ALDS: 3 Keys for Tampa Bay Rays to Win Game 1 over Boston Red Sox
At the conclusion of the series, the familiar foes will have played each other at least 22 times in 2013 (not including six times in spring training). The Rays went 7-12 against the Red Sox this season, their first season series loss to Boston since 2007.
The Red Sox may own the season series, but the Rays have been making themselves at home in Fenway Park recently.
The Rays are 4-1 in their last five games at Fenway Park, including Matt Moore’s complete game shutout on July 22.
This will be the second meeting of the teams in the postseason. The Rays defeated the Red Sox 4-2 in the 2008 ALCS to advance to their only World Series.
The Rays are on a very hot streak, winning 15 of their last 20 games dating back to September 12. They are looking to continue that success in the postseason.
Winning Game 1 dramatically increases the odds of winning the series.
Game 1 winners in Division Series have won 50 of 72 series (69 pct). In all best-of-5's, Game 1 winners won 75 of 108 series (69 pct) #elias— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 4, 2013
Here are three keys to victory for the Rays to beat the Red Sox in Game 1.
All statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
3. Keep the Momentum Going
The two teams enter the ALDS having taken different journeys.
The Red Sox have known their postseason fate for a while and have only had to play for the best record in the American League. They also have the luxury of resting since the conclusion of the regular season.
The Rays have taken the road less traveled by doing some extensive traveling.
Game 1 will be the team’s fourth game in as many cities over a six-day span. It will also be the first non-elimination game in that same span.
Had the Rays lost Game 162 in Toronto, they would have been eliminated from the postseason. The win left them in a tie and put them on a plane to face the Texas Rangers for the tiebreaker Game 163 for the second Wild Card spot.
After defeating the Rangers, the Rays were on a plane headed to Cleveland to face the Indians in the Wild Card Game.
Three straight single game elimination scenarios, coupled with a lot of champagne and silly string celebrations, bring the Rays to the ALDS. The team is on a hot streak of momentum that should prove to be an advantage over the Red Sox's rest.
2. Take Advantage of Jon Lester
The Tampa Bay Rays have had some success against Jon Lester this season. Rays batters that have faced him in 2013 have a combined .270/.330/.506 line.
Desmond Jennings leads the group with a .462/.462/.846 line against Lester this year, including a home run and a triple. If he is healthy enough to make it through the whole game, he could be a big offensive factor.
Jose Molina is probably the most surprising batter to watch. He has a .364/.417/.455 line against Lester this year. His career numbers against him remain fairly steady at .346/.414/.385.
On the other hand, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria have not fared as well.
Longoria struggled with a .182 batting average, and Zobrist was even worse with a .077 average. Their career numbers trend slightly better but are still far from desirable. Longoria fares slightly better with a .220 average compared to Zobrist’s .188 average.
Even with Longoria’s struggles, he has eight home runs in 50 at-bats against Lester.
1. Matt Moore Must Be Dominant
Matt Moore threw a complete game shut out the last time he took the mound in Fenway Park. He is hoping to build off of that success in his first postseason start in Boston.
This game will be his second career postseason start. He started Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS against the Texas Rangers. He won that start, the second start of his career.
Moore enjoys being in opposing ballparks.
His comfort on the road is evident in his 10-1 record with a .274 ERA in his 16 road starts this season.
He will have to command his pitches and hold the Red Sox below six hits if he wants to see success in Game 1.
Moore led the AL and set a team record with 17 wild pitches this year. Needless to say, that is not a stat you want to be a leader in.
He also has started 21 games where he allowed six hits or fewer. In those games, he has a 17-0 record and a 1.60 ERA. In the other six starts that he allowed seven or more hits, he has a 0-4 record with an 11.28 ERA.