The Boston Red Sox rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays to kick off the American League divisional round with a bang on Friday.
Game 1 was a nightmare for the Rays, as they were battered, 12-2, behind 14 hits by the Red Sox and sloppy defensive play. They posted a grand total of four hits against Jon Lester and Co. while allowing seven different Red Sox players to register at least one RBI.
But the Red Sox aren't out of the woods yet. They still have to beat the Rays two more times before advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
The Rays and Red Sox will battle it out to start Friday's action. The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics will follow.
Here's the broadcast information, complete with my predictions.
Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 5:37 p.m. ET
The Boston Red Sox rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday to take a 1-0 series lead.
But Saturday is a new day.
I expected the Red Sox to defeat the Rays on Friday. Sure, it wasn't to the extent I imagined, but given the presence of Jon Lester and the inexperience of Matt Moore, it also wasn't a great surprise that Boston racked up run after run.
But on Saturday, the Rays start some dude named David Price. This is the same David Price who has posted a 2.48 ERA against the Red Sox this season. That includes allowing just two runs in 16.1 innings to the Red Sox at Fenway Park (both wins).
Now, consider that the Red Sox are starting John Lackey on Saturday. Lackey has allowed nine runs in two starts against the Rays this season. He lasted all of 10 innings in those starts.
Lackey also posted an ERA of 4.98 in September. In his last start against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 24, he allowed four runs in six innings as the Red Sox were defeated, 8-3.
The Rays aren't the kind of team to simply lie down. They beat the Texas Rangers in a one-game tiebreaker to advance to the playoffs, then beat the Cleveland Indians in the wild-card game. I think they will bounce back in Boston on Saturday.
Prediction: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics
Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
When: Saturday, Oct. 5 at 9:07 p.m. ET
The Athletics have given baseball yet another reason to praise Billy Beane this season, finishing with 96 wins in the regular season.
I also like what manager Bob Melvin did, starting rookie Sonny Gray over clear No. 2 starter Jarrod Parker.
It all adds up to a win over the one and only Justin Verlander on Saturday in Oakland.
The easy thing to say when assessing this matchup is, "Justin Verlander is great and he's a six-time All-Star and he won the 2011 AL Cy Young and he posted a 2.22 ERA in the playoffs last year."
Well, that is all correct, but I can't ignore a few things.
One, the Athletics posted the second-best home record in the AL during the regular season (52-29).
Two, they swept the Tigers at Comerica Park in August.
Three, one of those games they won in August was against Verlander, who surrendered five runs (three earned) in five innings on Aug. 27.
Four, Verlander was great in the playoffs last year, but he holds a career postseason ERA of 4.22. He wasn't that great in 2006 or 2011.
Five, Gray was the better Game 2 choice for Oakland because a) the Tigers have never faced him and b) he holds a 1.99 ERA in six home starts this season.
Watching a player on film only does so much for you. You have to face him to truly get a feel for him. Gray obviously has the kind of stuff to be a difficult pitcher to face at first. It's one of the reasons why he has 67 strikeouts in 64 innings this year, while registering a 1.11 WHIP. The A's didn't draft him at No. 18 overall in 2011 for nothing.
The Athletics will bounce back in Oakland on Saturday.
Prediction: Athletics 4, Tigers 3