The Tampa Bay Rays have been the underdog since the season began. Finishing the season off tied with the Texas Rangers in the second Wild Card spot, the Rays had to play a 163rd game just to get into the playoffs. They won and took down the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card game, looking forward to a series with the best team in baseball.
Finishing the season with the best record in baseball, the Boston Red Sox have quickly become the favorite to win the AL Pennant and possibly a World Series as well. Having made the playoffs seven times since 2003 and winning two World Series titles in the past nine years, the Red Sox look poised to make a splash in the 2013 postseason.
One of the most important statistics of the Rays’ offense is the fact that it has the fourth-best on-base percentage in the league. Getting on the base at a .326 mark will win you some ball games and that could be a huge stat in this series. However, the Rays don’t have any batters with a .300-plus average. Despite that fact, Evan Longoria will be the X-factor in this series. He had 32 home runs and 88 RBI on the season — proving to be the most productive man in the lineup.
The Red Sox have the best lineup in baseball, statistically, ranking first in baseball in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. David Ortiz is playing like he’s still in his 20s, hitting .303 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI — he could be a serious MVP candidate. The Red Sox will need him to step up in the postseason like he usually does in order to make a serious run.
The advantage in pitching in this series goes to the Red Sox. While the Rays have the reigning Cy Young winner in David Price, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey will give this team a devastating one-two punch in the postseason. Don’t forget Jon Lester who also had 15 wins this season. The Rays’s staff is too inexperienced to take the series, especially starting on the road.
Game 1: Rays at Red Sox, 3 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 4, TBS
Game 2: Rays at Red Sox, 5:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, Oct. 5, TBS
Game 3: Red Sox at Rays, TBD, Monday, Oct. 7, TBS or MLB Network
Game 4*: Red Sox at Rays, TBD, Tuesday, Oct. 8, TBS
Game 5*: Rays at Red Sox, TBD, Thursday, Oct. 10, TBS
PREDICTION: Red Sox beat Rays in five, 3-2