ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox are one game away from sweeping their American League Division Series.
On Saturday night, the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 in Game 2 at Fenway Park to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
They will go for the sweep tonight at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., with Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) facing the Rays’ Alex Cobb (11-3, 2.76).
“Do I like our position?” Red Sox manager John Farrell said, repeating a question. “Better than 0-2. Yes.”
The Red Sox should like their chances to make it 3-0 with Buchholz on the mound. He beat the Rays twice in the regular season, pitching 13 shutout innings in his two starts and allowing just five hits.
On the other hand, Cobb struggled with the Red Sox as he went 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four starts.
Joe Maddon remains the eternal optimist, even with his Tampa Bay Rays on the brink of elimination in their American League Division Series.
“I’m really looking forward to Game 5 here,” Maddon said. “I don’t think it’s impossible by any means. We’ve been in this boat in the past and we’ve forced Game 5s in those situations, also. Boston at this time of year is kind of lovely and I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Designated hitter David Ortiz hit two home runs off losing pitcher David Price in Game 2 while center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBIs.
Cobb threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in the Rays’ win at Cleveland on Wednesday night in the AL wild card game but was 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four regular-season starts against the Red Sox. On the other hand, Buchholz won both his starts against the Rays, pitching 13 scoreless innings and allowing five hits.
The Rays won three elimination games in the span of four days, starting with a victory over the Blue Jays at Toronto on the final day of the regular season Sept. 29 that forced a tiebreaker with the Texas Rangers for the AL’s second wild card. The Rays then beat the Rangers in Arlington the next night and the Indians two nights after that.
“We’re not done,” said left-hander David Price, who took the loss in Game 2 as he allowed seven runs and nine hits in seven innings. “We have those 25 guys in our locker room that are ready to go. We’re going to try it get it done and get it back to Boston.
Ortiz is the last remaining member of the Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2004, breaking an 86-year championship drought for the franchise. So he knows a thing or two about how to hit in big games. The Red Sox have done that so far in this series, scoring 19 runs in two games.
Ortiz, who has 14 career postseason homers, said the key to hitting in the postseason is working the count in the hitter’s favor.
“Facing good pitching like that we need to execute,” Ortiz said. “You got to make up your mind.”