Rays - 014 000 031 - 9 13 0Lester had a four-pitch first inning (ball, 6-3, 3U, F8) and things looked bright.
Red Sox - 000 000 100 - 1 7 0
But the Rays scored a run in the second on a walk, a single and a groundout. Then the Red Sox had men at second and third with one out and could not score -- though they were relying on Varitek and Cora. Lester was then pounded in the third. Bartlett singled, Iwamura doubled off the Wall, and Upton crushed a three-run dong over everything in left. After Pena struck out looking, Longoria homered to left-center.
Boston could not get anything going against Garza. Pedroia doubled with one out in the first, but was stranded. Then the Sox "stranded a pair" in the second. They had a runner on base in each of the next four innings, but could not move any of them to second. Garza began the seventh at 107 pitches. He seemed gassed as he walked Varitek and allowed a single down the right field line to Cora. Howell came in and gave up a sac fly to Ellsbury, which made the score 5-1. Pedroia then grounded into a 5-4-3 DP to end the inning. The only baserunner for Boston in the final two innings was Drew's two-out single in the eighth.
Byrd relieved Lester in the sixth and pitched the rest of the way. He gave up a three-run home run to Baldelli in the eighth that put the game on ice. Pena pounded a dong to left-center in the ninth as an exclamation point.
The one Boston run in the seventh meant that the Red Sox avoided being shut out at Fenway Park in a post-season game for the first time since Game 5 of the 1918 World Series.
The Rays lead this series 2-1. Game 4 is tomorrow night.
Matt Garza (Rays 14-16 in his starts)
Jon Lester (Red Sox 22-11 in his starts)
Red Sox RaysAfter splitting the first two games, the ALCS is now a best-of-5 -- and Boston has both home field advantage and Jon Lester set to pitch two of those possible five games.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B B.J. Upton, CF
David Ortiz, DH Carlos Pena, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B Evan Longoria, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF Carl Crawford, LF
Jason Bay, LF Willy Aybar, DH
Mark Kotsay, 1B Dioner Navarro, C
Jason Varitek, C Rocco Baldelli, RF
Alex Cora, SS Jason Bartlett, SS
Lester made three starts against the Rays this season, allowing only two runs in 20 innings (0.90 ERA). 18 hits, six walks, 19 strikeouts. He had a 2.49 ERA in 17 Fenway starts. He was second on the Red Sox staff with a 143 ERA+.
Garza -- in the first full season of his career -- started four games against the Red Sox, allowing 14 runs (11 earned) in 22 innings (4.50). He walked seven, struck out 10 and gave up four dongs. His 118 ERA+ was third best on the Rays staff.
There are rumblings that Alex Cora may get a start today. I'd rather Terry Francona stick to putting the best players in the lineup, thank you very much. But the Assassin loves Einstein, so I hope Flo and Lyndon pick today to come out of their offensive shells.
Corsi Combover has some fine Columbus Day art at SoSH. It's Thanksgiving Day in Canada and we're off with some friends and their dogs. You're on your own as far as links go, but the ProJo blog has press conference transcripts and a bunch of other stuff in one place.
NLCS 4: Phillies (2)/Dodgers (1) at 8