What was previously a lopsided series just got serious on Monday night (U.S. time), as the Tampa Bay Rays unleashed a fifth-inning barrage to draw even with the Boston Red Sox, and then did their opponents one better in the last two innings to escape with a 5-4 home victory.
The first two games were more offense-oriented through the first five innings, resulting in a total of 8 runs or runs batted in in the for both teams in game 1, and 12 in game 2; both games featured . In game 3, though, the Red Sox started off steady, keeping the Rays at bay in the first four innings while scoring three runs through the first five. However, the reverse of games 1 and 2 happened: Jose Lobaton managed to hit a pivotal home run to finally get the monkey off the Rays' proverbial backs. For Lobaton, it was the biggest moment in his four-year Major League career.
For Game 4, it seems that the Red Sox will have more of the same cautious play that characterised their loss as they have listed Jake Peavy as their starting pitcher. Peavy has a two-seam fastball that limits the home runs he gives up. It the Red Sox wins Game 4 and the series, it will be due to Peavy's efforts on the mound.
It will be an interesting matchup between Peavy and Tampa Bay's batters as the 2007 Triple Crown awardee likes to use his fastballs on lefties. While Lobaton and Ben Zobrist can switch batting stances, they tend to favor the left, which makes home-plate adjustments an important matter. Conversely, Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson has had little playoff exposure, and that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. For one, in his starts against Boston in the 2013 season, he has had success with his off-speed pitching, getting strikes for almost 40 per cent of his change-ups.
Boston's situation at home plate is even more intriguing. David Ortiz, the slugger that he is, has had three home runs in the season series against the Rays and is always a power hitter. Jarrod Saltamacchia has similar numbers and might just be Boston's surprise package in Tuesday's game.
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