How the Red Sox and Rays match up


For two teams that know each other so well, are there any scouting secrets left to be unveiled as they meet in the Division Series? We think not. Boston won the season series, 12-7, but the Red Sox did it with three walkoff wins. They hit only .208 against the Rays with a .280 on-base percentage while the Rays hit just .232 against them.

The Red Sox managed just 208 total bases in 19 games, yet won 12 of them.

Obviously, the regular-season series wasn’t about offenses, though the Red Sox got big hits from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp to win games.


Evan Longoria is the player the Red Sox have to neutralize, and they did so this season more often than not. He hit .244 at Fenway with 2 homers, 3 RBIs, and a .694 OPS; overall, he hit .269 vs. Boston with 5 homers, 7 RBIs, and an .868 OPS .

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While Longoria is the dangerous one, the Rays are all about platoons and players with multipositional talents. Ben Zobrist is the poster child for that. Manager Joe Maddon got a lot out of Red Sox castoff James Loney, who hit .299 with 13 homers and 75 RBIs and played a stellar first base. The Rays also got a boost from late-season acquisition David DeJesus, who saw time at all three outfield positions.

Desmond Jennings wasn’t quite a finished product in center, but he can create excitement with his speed. Jose Molina just keeps ticking behind the plate and does a great job with the staff; backup catcher Jose Lobaton has come a long way with the bat.

The Rays improved their offense in 2013, hitting .257 with 700 runs, but that can’t match Boston’s .277 and 853 runs.

As much as the Red Sox have to neutralize Longoria, the Rays must not let David Ortiz beat their pitching with one swing. That’s where those shifts come in handy. According to Bill James, the Red Sox prevented 15 runs from scoring with their shifts, while Tampa Bay led the league with 16 runs prevented by shifts.


Advantage: Red Sox

CFJacoby EllsburyL.298.35557792172318953
vs. Rays.242.3196212151200
RFShane VictorinoS.294.351477821402621561
vs. Rays.191.214688134103
2BDustin PedroiaR.301.37264191193422984
vs. Rays.209.309679143006
DHDavid OrtizL.309.3955188416038230103
vs. Rays.281.388577163029
1BMike NapoliR.259.360498791293822392
vs. Rays.217.299607137019
LFDaniel NavaS.303.385458771392901266
vs. Rays.239.340468112026
CJarrod SaltalamacchiaS.273.338425681164001465
vs. Rays.227.314445103026
SSStephen DrewL.253.333442571122981367
vs. Rays.188.246643126017
3BWill MiddlebrooksR.227.27134841791801749
vs. Rays.140.19143162016

2BBen ZobristS.275.354612771683631271
vs. Red Sox.230.329746173004
LFSean RodriguezR.246.3201952148101523
vs. Red Sox.318.42322172002
3BEvan LongoriaR.269.343614911653933288
vs. Red Sox.269.3297812214157
RFWil MyersR.293.35433550982301353
vs. Red Sox.303.361331103018
DHDelmon YoungR.260.30733430871601138
vs. Red Sox.267.35315240012
1BJames LoneyL.299.348549541643301375
vs. Red Sox.234.282644153028
CFDesmond JenningsR.252.334527821333161454
vs. Red Sox.238.2798010191147
SSYunel EscobarR.256.33250861130271956
vs. Red Sox.231.342657155000
CJose MolinaR.233.2902832666140218
vs. Red Sox.429.487353153004

Starting pitching

Clay Buchholz comes closest to David Price as a shutdown starter, and the strength of both teams lies in the rotations. That’s why Boston had such a poor batting average against Tampa Bay and vice versa.

Lefties Matt Moore and Price are expected to be the Games 1 and 2 starters, likely followed by righty Alex Cobb. Moore and Price had a couple of good games against Boston this season, but the Red Sox don’t seem to fear the Rays rotation.

Jeremy Hellickson would appear to be the fourth starter, with young Chris Archer (0-2, 5.91 ERA vs. Boston) likely the odd man out.

Price went 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts against Boston this season. Moore was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Cobb went 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four starts, but that’s deceiving, as he pitched very well in three starts and had one meltdown game.


The Rays couldn’t touch Buchholz, who pitched 13 scoreless innings against them and allowed only a .122 average. Conversely, they batted around John Lackey (0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in two starts). Jon Lester and Jake Peavy were middle-of-the-road but with winning records and ERAs in the 4.00s.

Sox starters compiled a 2.93 ERA vs. Tampa Bay but a 1.269 WHIP, to Tampa’s 3.54 ERA and 1.095 WHIP

But one killer for the Red Sox: Their starters allowed 99 stolen bases, by far the most in baseball.

Advantage: Rays

LJon Lester15-83.75213209896717719.253
vs. Rays2-14.322528128215.280
RJohn Lackey10-133.52189179744016126.247
vs. Rays0-18.1010199252.388
RClay Buchholz12-11.74108752136964.199
vs. Rays2-00.0013505170.122
RJake Peavy12-54.17144130673612120.238
vs. Rays1-04.26121066103.217

LMatt Moore17-43.29150119557614314.216
vs. Red Sox2-01.8015533121.102
LDavid Price10-83.33186178692715116.252
vs. Red Sox2-22.48321993303.167
RChris Archer9-73.22128107463810115.226
vs. Red Sox0-25.198959121.265
RAlex Cobb11-32.76143120444513413.228
vs. Red Sox0-15.1622241310200.270


The Rays have better overall numbers, with a 27-24 record, 3.59 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP out of the bullpen compared with Boston’s 30-23 record, 3.70 ERA, and 1.31 WHIP.

The question is, whom would you rather have close: Koji Uehara or Fernando Rodney?

Easy one. Uehara had 21 saves in 24 chances, with a minuscule ERA (1.09) and even smaller WHIP (0.565). Rodney blew eight saves (37 for 45) and could have blown a few more.

Tampa Bay’s strength is its setup men, including Jake McGee, Alex Torres, and Joel Peralta (who looks fatigued), and it has an edge there over Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow for the Sox.

Rays relievers are also vulnerable to stolen bases. They led the league with 50 allowed, to Boston’s 34. This could be a key late in games, when the winning run could get into scoring position at any moment, putting pressure on the reliever.

Advantage: Red Sox

RKoji Uehara4-11.097433991015.130
vs. Rays1-00.0010202130.059
LCraig Breslow5-21.8159491218333.228
vs. Rays0-03.86763240.231
RJunichi Tazawa5-43.1668702412729.265
vs. Rays2-00.969611110.176
RRyan Dempster8-94.57171170877915726.256
vs. Rays0-12.50181459202.219
RBrandon Workman6-34.9741442315475.272
vs. Rays0-14.50894381.300
LFranklin Morales2-24.6225241315212.255
vs. Rays1-00.00420140.154
LFelix Doubront11-64.32162161787113913.261
vs. Rays0-22.552420711221.225

LJake McGee5-34.0262522822758.223
vs. Red Sox1-00.008104120.038
RJeremy Hellickson12-105.171741851005013524.274
vs. Red Sox1-03.44181474203.209
RJoel Peralta3-83.4171472734747.184
vs. Red Sox0-34.82965641.194
RFernando Rodney5-43.3866532536823.211
vs. Red Sox0-16.756458120.167
LAlex Torres4-21.7158321120621.159
vs. Red Sox0-00.00840280.133
RJamey Wright2-23.0970612423654.240
vs. Red Sox0-06.147653101.231
LWesley Wright0-43.6953542219557.261
vs. Red Sox0-00.00330430.250


The Rays have a deep bench full of experienced major league players who also fill roles. Jose Lobaton has provided offense and power as the backup to catcher Jose Molina. Sean Rodriguez is the Ben Zobrist off the bench, capable of playing multiple positions. Kelly Johnson can be used in the infield or outfield as a lefthanded hitter. Sam Fuld comes in for outfield defense and speed, and Luke Scott (lefthanded bat) and Delmon Young (righthanded) have filled situational roles.

Boston also has a very good bench led by Mike Carp, who has had big hits. David Ross provides a defensive alternative to Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher. If Daniel Nava starts, then Jonny Gomes comes off the bench as a power bat who has provided big hits as well.

The Sox will likely go with backup infielder Xander Bogaerts for his offense and John McDonald for his defense.

Advantage: Rays

LFMike CarpL.296.3622163464182943
vs. Rays.429.46714260017
CDavid RossR.216.298102112250410
vs. Rays.100.18210110011
LFJonny GomesR.247.34431249771701352
vs. Rays.150.20940460016
SSXander BogaertsR.250.320447112015
vs. Rays.000.0003000000
LFQuintin BerryL.625.6678550014
vs. Rays--0000000

LFSam FuldL.199.270176253503217
vs. Red Sox.000.1436000000
LFKelly JohnsonL.235.30536641861221652
vs. Red Sox.162.22537161012
RFMatt JoyceL.235.32841361972201847
vs. Red Sox.167.30854492025
LFDavid DeJesusL.251.3273915298293838
vs. Red Sox.400.6255121001
CJose LobatonS.249.3202773869152732
vs. Red Sox.069.15629320011


Hard to pick who means more to his team. Joe Maddon is one of the best — if not the best — in baseball. John Farrell, after two tough seasons in Toronto, emerged as a very good manager, able to integrate seven major free agents onto a team that had been gutted. Farrell also turned around the fortunes of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, which was key to the season.

Maddon, with his low-key manner, did a great job bringing his team back from the brink of extinction a couple of times to reach this point. Maddon never showed signs of distress, and his team’s performance, when it counted most, reflected that.

Advantage: Even

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.