Sox will be watching Tribe-Rays with close eye

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Sox will be watching Tribe-Rays with close eye

BOSTON -- The Red Sox finished with the best record in the American League, at 97-65, tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball. For their accomplishment, they will have home field advantage throughout the postseason, and will face the winner of Wednesday’s one-game wild card playoff, either the Rays or Indians, on Friday in Game 1 of their AL Division Series at Fenway Park.
 
“I think more than anything, we’ve put ourselves in a very good position and that’s over a course of 162,” manager John Farrell said. “Our guys have earned that. We’re in a little bit different format because of the number of days off. It’s rewarding for all of us to say we won a division and we’ve been able to maintain home field advantage. Those are two things, that I think as we begin this postseason, sit well with us. I know by Friday this group will be chomping at the bit to get in the field.”
 
In addition to four days of rest, the Sox’ accomplishment  also means they are the last team in baseaball to know who their Division Series opponent will be.  Farrell was asked if there are any disadvantages to that.
 
“None that I can state right now,” Farrell said. “Only because I know that amount of scouting work we’ve done on every team that was in contention is not going to change because we’re going to find out [Wednesday] night. We’ve got meetings scheduled for Thursday morning and that would encompass any team that we’re going to play. The fact that’s not going to be determined until [Wednesday] night, we’re more than prepared to shift according to who it is.”
 
Farrell has not announced his roster or Game 1 starter yet, preferring to get through today’s workout and simulated game before making any information public. The Sox’ opponent may have an impact on those decisions to some degree.
 
“There’ll be some of that involved,” Farrell said, “but the one thing that I want to be clear at is that we’ve set a pretty clear approach to how we’ve used all of our position players throughout the course of the regular season. To make a drastic shift from that  I don’t know that that would be putting guys in the best position to succeed.
 
“So, this is a team that we’ve had a couple of situations where we’ve pinch-hit before, or we’ll use a pinch-runner, we’ve demonstrated that. So to say that we’ll look to do something completely different because we’ve got a five-game series with two offdays in it, I think that would be running from what our strengths have been established all year.”
 
Farrell, like his staff and players, will be watching tonight’s game, just as he has watched playoff games in the past.
 
“Every year, yeah,” he said. “Even those years when you’re on the outside looking in, personally I have a strong interest in the game. You like to see how things unfold and what decisions are made based on certain things that come up in a game. You think along the game as it’s happening even though you might not be there.”
 
The Red Sox will all be watching tonight’s game, but with a different perspective than most viewers.
 
“There won’t be any fan in me pulling for either team,” said Jake Peavy, “I was talking to my father about this, the way I watched the game [Monday] night [between the Rays and Rangers] was so different than he and my mother and brother and everybody else. I’m watching pitch sequences, and how guys are setting up and what guys are trying to do in certain situations. And that’s certainly the way I think we’ll all watch the game [Wednesday] night, with an idea that we’re going to face one of those teams. I’m going to face those hitters that I’m watching. So I’ll watch it a lot like I do homework tapes.”
 
“I’m in a good situation to where I can watch it,” said Jonny Gomes. “It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s not like baseball-sized tears at the end of the game. Just watch it as a fan. And they got 162 games under their belt too. They’re not going to reinvent the wheel [tonight]. So just watch the game as a fan.”
 
Neither the manager of any of his players expressed a preference for who they might face in their Division Series. In six meetings between the Rays and Indians, Tampa Bay won four, going 2-1 both at home and at Cleveland. The Sox finished 6-1 against the Indians, but have not faced them since May, when they were a much different team. The Sox finished 12-7 against the Rays, 6-4 at Fenway, 6-3 at Tropicana Field, and know Tampa Bay as well as any team.
 
A scout who has followed both the Rays and Indians gave his thoughts on the potential matchups:
 
“I think if Cleveland plays Boston, I don’t think Cleveland will match up well at all. I think Boston will kill them," the scout said. "Cleveland’s bullpen is really weak right now. If Boston plays Tampa, because of familiarity I think Tampa has a legitimate shot at staying competitive. However, I still see Boston winning either series rather handily. For me, right now as an outsider, I would have to say Boston is a clear-cut favorite to win  the whole thing.”

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.