The Red Sox took care of business in Game One of the ALDS versus Tampa Bay, winning 12-2. Jonny Gomes tied the game 2-2 with a two run double in the fourth and the Sox offense and lack of Rays defense took over from there. A few notes and observations:
* Jon Lester pitched like an ace should in the opening game. He gave the Red Sox the length they hope to get throughout the postseason from their starters going 7 2/3 strong innings. He struck out the side in the first and got Evan Longoria on strikes to start the second. His only blemishes were solo home runs by Sean Rodriquez and Ben Zobrist. The most outstanding and encouraging part of his start, however, was the fact he pitched two consecutive shutdown innings. After the Red Sox scored 5 in the fourth, Lester retired the Rays in order on 11 pitches in the fifth. When the Sox batted around for a second straight inning, Lester came out in the top of the sixth and retired the Rays on 8 pitches.
* Even though the Red Sox were shutout and no-hit by Rays starter, Matt Moore for the first three innings, the Sox made Moore throw 53 pitches. This was a definite factor in getting to Moore in the next two frames.
* Whenever the Rays misplayed a ball in the field , the Sox took advantage by being aggressive on the base paths and at the plate. When Wil Myers completely missed an Ortiz deep fly ball turning it into a ground rule double, Jonny Gomes hit the aforementioned game tying double. Gomes also illustrated the base running daring-do by repeating his Opening Day feat of scoring from second base on an infield single.
* The offensive balance displayed by Boston could not have been any more pronounced. All nine batters had at least one hit and all nine scored at least one run. Seven players drove in at least a run, ironically the only two without an RBI were the three and four hitters, Pedroia and Ortiz. The Red Sox lead all of MLB in run differential with a plus 197. And a game like this shows how this was accomplished: both strong pitching and relentless at bats.
* Even with David Price taking the hill for the Rays on Saturday, the pressure is all on the Rays. They do not want to go home trailing 0-2 with both of their ace lefties used for now. Certainly Game Two is a chance for the Red Sox to put the hammer down and go up 2-0. The Red Sox need to drive up Price's pitch count as they did Moore's. Price is pitching on his normal 4 days rest, but coming off a somewhat stressful complete game over Texas, Price may not go to the hill with a full tank. Do not be surprised if John Lackey, with extra rest, outpitches Price.
* Despite the if it ain't broke don't fix it approach to lineups, despite today's dozen put up by Boston, expect at least one line up change Saturday. David Ross, in what granted is a small sample size, is 2 for 5 lifetime versus Price and both hits are home runs. Ross should be at catcher, and I think there may be a 10-20% chance Xander Bogaerts is at shortstop to get one more righty bat in there.
Good luck to the Red Sox in Game Two!