Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peavy looks to extinguish Rays' must-win magic

ST. PETERSBURG -- The never-say-die Rays improved to 4-0 in elimination games this year, rallying from a three-run deficit to keep their season -- and the American League Division Series against the Red Sox -- alive for another day.
Yes, a Boston club that looked unbeatable the first two games at its own Fenway Park failed to complete the sweep. But the Red Sox, who combined to score 19 runs in Games 1 and 2, are still in control, up 2-1 in the best-of-five set.
"We're coming back hungry just like we did today," designated hitter David Ortiz said Monday of Boston's mindset. "We know this ain't over. We know we've got to come and play, make pitches, score runs. We've got to do whatever it takes to win the game."
The Rays have won four elimination games in a nine-day span and pulled off a dramatic win Monday on Jose Lobaton's walk-off homer -- against lockdown closer Koji Uehara -- that was symbolic of manager Joe Maddon's feisty club.
"It kind of showed the way this team is right now and the fact that we're not going to die," Game 3 starter Alex Cobb said of a Rays team that vowed to return to Boston for Game 5 after falling into an 0-2 hole. "You're going to have to take our last breath away from us, and we're still going to be fighting and screaming at the end. It's going to be a fun ride. I don't think it's going to be over anytime soon."
Tampa Bay, at home for the first time in two weeks, snapped a five-game skid in Division Series play. But Boston still has the edge entering Game 4 on Tuesday night (8:30 ET on TBS). The Red Sox also have history on their side -- teams up 2-1 in the Division Series format have gone 35-8.
"They are a resilient team. They said all year long they were going to keep coming," Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino said. "And we're still up 2-1. We are still in the driver's seat, we control our own destiny. We just got to go out there [Tuesday] and try to win another one."
Boston will send Jake Peavy to the hill looking to avoid a winner-take-all Game 5, and the right-hander threw a simulated game on Wednesday to try to stay crisp.
"Just doing everything I could possibly do to keep that feel," said Peavy, who last started Sept. 25. "If you watched [John] Lackey the other day, I think you saw the layoff can affect your feel and command a little bit. But at the end of the day, it will be no excuse. I'll get out there and figure out a way to get it done just as John did."
Tampa Bay will counter with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who received the nod over Chris Archer despite a frustrating season in which he went 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA.
"Every elimination game we went into feels like just another game until we get out there and see the crowd and make some plays, and then we're a little more fired up. But we want to be in this situation," Hellickson said. "We know we can win three in a row. It's going to be difficult, but we know we can do it."

Rays: Price apologizes for tweets
Left-hander David Price apologized Monday for his Twitter comments following Game 2's ALDS loss.
"It's not the way anybody should handle themselves at any time. It's not the way anyone, especially myself, should handle something of that nature," Price said before Game 3 at Tropicana Field. "I am a person, I feel like, that takes pride in character. That was probably the exact opposite of that. I hurt a lot of people. I embarrassed myself. I embarrassed my family. I embarrassed this organization. It's not good. It's not good for baseball. It's not good for our team, especially at a time like right now."
Price realized he'd made a mistake "probably a couple of minutes" after firing off a post directed at TBS analysts Dirk Hayhurst and Tom Verducci. He read it over a few times, but his "emotions were just going so high. I knew that was nothing to tweet about."

Red Sox: Bullpen looking sharp
The setup crew has looked much more promising over the ALDS, with Junichi Tazawa following up a solid outing in Game 2 by recording a pair of outs in Monday's loss.
"You know, whether it's Taz, whether it's [lefty Craig Breslow], the fact they come in and throw quality stuff and throw strikes, that's the biggest thing," said manager John Farrell. "We don't really fear that they're going to compound the inning with erratic command."
Tazawa had an ERA of 3.29 or lower in every month but September, when he gave up six runs over 8 1/3 innings.

Worth noting
  • Fernando Rodney became the second Rays pitcher with a blown save in the postseason, joining Dan Wheeler in the 2008 AL Championship Series against Boston.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury became the third player in Red Sox history with consecutive three-hit postseason games, joining Kevin Youkilis and Nomar Garciaparra.
  • Red Sox outfielder Quintin Berry's steal of second base in the eighth inning improved him to a perfect 27-for-27 in his Major League career.

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