AL East Showdown

Tyler Higbee, Staff Writer

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This past weekend the Boston Red Sox traveled down south to St. Petersburg, Florida for a crucial three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only are these two teams division rivals, but they are coming to the end of the regular season and every game counts. Also the Red Sox and Rays are both battling to win the pennant this year and take it from the current division leader New York Yankees. With such an important series at the helm, both teams were sure to come out with some fire.

            In game one neither team would have wanted anyone else on the mound except their ace and that’s exactly what they did. A matchup of two All-Star pitchers in Boston’s Jon Lester and Tampa Bay’s David Price. Boston jumped out to an early lead on a Victor Martinez homerun in the top of the 1st inning. Boston scored again in the 4th inning to take a 2-0 lead. Tampa Bay answered with a run when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch with men on second and third. Boston then scored again in the 7th inning and that’s all Jon Lester would need. He out-pitched David Price nearly shutting down the Rays lineup that only managed one run on three hits and 1 error. Jonathan Papelbon was called on for the save in the 9th inning and he made easy work of the Rays to seal the win for the Red Sox.

            After losing game one and the Red Sox gaining a game on the Rays in the pennant race, The Rays knew they needed to step up. Clay Buchholz and Matt Garza were in a pitching duel in game two. Both pitchers had strong outings with at least 7 innings pitched and each giving up only one run. With the Red Sox up 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning and B.J. Upton at the plate the Rays tied the game when Upton homered to left field. Neither team being able to win in 9 innings this game went into extra innings. In the top half the Red Sox could only manage to reach a runner to first base before they Rays retired the side. The Rays saw their chance and in the bottom half of the 10th inning Dan Johnson lead off the inning with a walk-off homerun to win the game and tie this series at one game a piece.

            With the series being tied game three was critical to both teams in the playoff race and in the division. With a win the Rays would tie the Yankees at the top of the AL East. Another pair of good pitchers took the mound on Sunday with John Lackey leading the Red Sox and James Shields leading the Rays. This game had a little more scoring than the first two pitching duels. The Rays jumped out to an early lead in the 4th inning when Carlos Pena hit a big fly to right-center field that cleared the wall with ease. Boston answered with a rally in the 5th inning and scored two runs. Boston added another run with a Daniel Nava base hit that brought in Adrian Beltre who doubled to get on. Then the Rays flipped the switch and with one man on and one out, Carl Crawford stepped into the box and hit his 100th career Major League homerun and tied the game at 3-3. The Rays added one more run in the 6th inning and added an insurance run in the 7th inning to take a 5-3 lead. Rafael Soriano was called in for the save and had no trouble shutting down the Red Sox and closing out the game and clinching the series.

            After it was all said and done, the Rays are now one game back from the New York Yankees in the AL East standings and Boston is now a whopping 7 games back from the Rays. Boston who is in the wild card race is 7 games back from the Rays or and has a 2 game lead over the Chicago White sox. AS we move closer to October and the MLB playoffs who knows? Anything can happen!