The Boston Red Sox look to close out their American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays later today in Tampa Bay, with Clay Buchholz taking the mound for Boston against the Rays' Alex Cobb. After amassing the best record in baseball during the regular season, the Red Sox have scored 19 runs to the Rays' six and are in a great position to reach the American League Championship Series. The Rays attempt to become the the fifth AL team out of 22 that have come back to win five-game series after falling behind 2-0.
The Rays won the last game of the regular season in Toronto to force a 163rd game against the Rangers in Texas, and after besting the Rangers traveled to Cleveland for the Wild Card play-in game, and after winning that game traveled to Boston. They return to Tampa Bay for the first time in 12 days, as the last time they played at Tropicana was a 5-4 win over the Orioles on Monday, September 23. The Red Sox on the other had four off-days to prepare for the Rays, and if their performance during the first two post-season games are any indication, the rest did them well. This marks the fourth "win or go home" game for the Rays in eight days, and after fighting so hard the Rays are going to do whatever they can to avoid a sweep.
With hopes of stemming the tide the Rays turn to 26-year-old Alex Cobb, who has a 2.76 ERA in 22 games started this season. Cobb is 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA in seven career starts against the Sox, and the Rays have not won a game he's started against the Sox this season. Against the Indians in the Wild Card game, Cobb went 6.2 innings, giving up eight hits and no earned runs with five strikeouts.
Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who missed three months with a shoulder injury, is working on nine days rest. Buchholz last took the mound on Friday, September 27, when he took the 12-3 win over the Orioles. Buchholz has been impressive since his return, posting a 3-1 record and a 1.88 ERA in four starts.
With the first games of the playoffs not going the Rays' way, plus a regular season that saw the Sox win 14 of 21 games, the Rays are going to need to play nearly perfect baseball if they are going to send the series back to Boston. But the Rays just won three must win games to get in position to play the Red Sox, and with a talented team the Rays aren't going down without a fight. “We’ve been in this boat in the past and we’ve forced Game 5s in those situations,” said Rays Manager Joe Maddon. “Boston this time of year is kind of lovely, and I’m looking forward to coming back in a few days.”
Game three of the Red Sox Rays ALDS starts at 6 p.m. later tonight. Should the Rays survive, game four is tomorrow at 8:30 p.m., and if the series shifts back to Boston, the game is at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.