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Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Boston has had little problem solving Tampa Bay’s pitching staff through the first two games of the ALDS, taking a 2-0 lead with a chance to finish off the Rays tonight.

The Red Sox scored 19 runs on 25 hits in the first two contests, hit seven doubles, a triple and two home runs, and – oh, by the way – have gotten outstanding pitching setting up Clay Buchholz for a Game 3 clincher.

The combined regular season record between the two starters tonight – Buchholz and Tampa’s Alex Cobb – is 23-4. Buchholz went 9-0 before being injured and sitting out for three months. He returned to go 3-1 and his ERA currently sits at 1.74. Had Buchholz pitched the entire season this way and not gone on the DL, he would be a shoe-in for the AL Cy Young Award and likely would have already started in Game 1 of this series. With the injury, though, John Farrell wanted to put his two horses out there first, Jon Lester and John Lackey. They proved he made the right decision and have set up Buchholz with a chance to sweep the Rays.

Here is the lineup for the Red Sox tonight (first pitch – 6:00 pm EDT; TV – TBS):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Nava, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, SS
9. Middlebrooks, 3B

Buchholz, P

Cobb went 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA during the regular season. He also defeated the Indians in the AL Wild Card game, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing no runs. He started four games against the Red Sox this season and Tampa Bay lost all four games (Cobb 0-1, three no-decisions). Cobb allowed 14 runs (13 earned) in 22 2/3 innings. In his most recent start, September 11, Cobb gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 IP. Oh, and Cobb, who was born in Boston, is celebrating his 26th birthday today.

More on Buch
Let’s just say Buchholz loves The Trop. According to the Red Sox pregame notes, his 2.26 career ERA in nine starts at Tropicana Field is best mark among active starters. Against the Rays, home or away, he has a 2.41 ERA, which is third best ever behind Mariano Rivera (1.69) and Pedro Martinez (1.99).

When up 2-0…
Teams who take a 2-0 lead in the Division Series have gone on to win the series 38 of 43 times. Good news for the Sox, who have taken a 2-0 series lead for the ninth time in team history. In the previous eight, Boston has won seven of those series. (Note: This stat includes seven-game series, as well). With a win, Boston would be the only DS team to finish the series with a sweep

Run, run, run away
The Red Sox stole their 42nd consecutive base without being caught during Game 2 of the series. It was – surprise, surprise – Jacoby Ellsbury who swiped the bag in the first inning.

Koji momentum
#HighFiveCity has hit the postseason for the very first time. Koji Uehara picked up his first career postseason save with a perfect ninth inning to close out Game 2 Sunday. Uehara threw 11 pitches, all for strikes, and continued a wave of momentum he began back in July.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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Ben Whitehead 10/07/2013 04:00:00 PM Edit
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