Four Real? Red Sox slay Rays in ALDS Game One 10-4-13

Jon Lester led the way for the Red Sox in a 12-2 win
over Tampa Bay in Game One of the ALDS Friday
at Fenway Park (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Moral of the American League Division Series Game One story: the Red Sox might get down, but don’t ever count them out.

While Boston fell into a 2-0 hole after four innings thanks to a pair of solo homers off the bats of Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez, the vaunted Red Sox offence sprung to life soon after and the Sox batted around in back-to-back innings to put up five runs in the fourth and three in the fifth en route to a 12-2 win over Tampa Bay in the ALDS opener.

With the win, the Sox take a 1-0 edge in the best-of-five series.

Aside from the two solo home runs, Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 in the regular season) had his cutter and fastball working overtime throughout the game as he earned the win in his first-ever Game One postseason start at Fenway Park, giving up two runs on three hits and walking two in seven and two-thirds.

The lefty starter struck out the side swinging on 14 pitches in the first inning en route to recording seven Ks on the day and retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced before giving way to Junichi Tazawa and Ryan Dempster, who provided scoreless relief the rest of the way.

Coincidentally, the last time Lester allowed two or more homers in a game this season was July 23 — also against the Rays. Lester, however, picked up the win in that one as well.

Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA in the regular season) shouldered the loss for the Rays after giving up eight runs — seven earned — on eight hits and walking two in four-plus innings of work, but it was a series of fielding miscues in the fourth and fifth innings that truly did in the Rays, most notably Wil Myers giving up on a David Ortiz pop fly to right center in the fourth that turned into a ground-rule double and opened the door to a five-run inning for the Sox.

It marked the 22nd time this season that Boston has scored five or more runs in an inning.

This one was a true team effort — every member of the Red Sox lineup had a hit and either scored or drove in a run as Boston out-hit the Rays 14-4.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia set the pace for the Sox, going 2 for 4 with three RBI and a walk, while Shane Victorino (3 for 4) and Jonny Gomes (1 for 4, walk) also chipped in with two RBI each.

The Sox also stole second twice in the game courtesy of Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury, running their successful-swipes streak to 41.

The good news/bad news stat of the day: Since their World Series championship season in 2004, the Sox are 6 for 7 in postseason series play after winning the opening game. The one time they lost? To Tampa Bay in the American League Championship Series in 2008.

Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:

1) Sean, And Gone: The Tampa Bay Rays came into the game having scored first in their last 12 games and made it a baker's dozen in the second when Jon Lester served up a sinker to Sean Rodriguez, who promptly deposited it into the Green Monster seats to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.

2) Jonny On The Spot: In the fourth with the Sox down a pair of runs, Jonny Gomes ripped a second-pitch Moore fastball off the Monster to drive in Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to tie the game up at 2-2.

3) Even Stephen: Still in the fourth with two out, Stephen Drew beat out an infield hit at first that allowed Jonny Gomes to score from second to give the Sox a 3-2 lead.

4) Willy Conka: One batter later, Will Middlebrooks laced a double off the Monster that Sean Rodriguez misplayed, allowing Drew to race home from first to put Boston up 4-2.

Tomorrow, in Game Two of the five-game series, John Lackey — 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA in the regular season — takes the mound at Fenway against David Price, who went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA for the Rays in 2013. First pitch goes at 5:30 p.m. EST.

Twitter: @jan_doh
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