Starting at 3 PM on Friday afternoon at Fenway Park another chapter in the Red Sox greatest rivalry of the 2010s begins when the Bearded Boys from Boston take on the Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Maddon's tema is fresh off surviving two consecutive lose-and-go-home road contest, first against the Rangers to get into the postseason, and last night against the Indians, both highlighted by tremendous pitching performances.
But despite being forced to use staff ace David Price in Arlington and Alex Cobb in Cleveland, the Rays have exactly who they want taking the baseball in Boston. Moore showed the Sox firsthand how good he can be the last time he toed the rubber at Fenway in July. Let's also not forget how dominant Moore was as a fresh-faced rookie in 2011 when he was called on to face the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS in what was just his second big league start. He shut down the mighty Rangers, limiting them to no runs, two hits and two walks over seven dominant innings. He also pitched relief in Game 4, with only an Adrain Beltre solo home run between him and 10 career postseason shutout innings.
One player who won't be intimidated by seeing Moore on the mound is David Ortiz who has owned the young southpaw thus far in his career, enjoying a 1.346 OPS in 14 plate appearances, including two doubles, a home run and four runs knocked in. However other than Stephen Drew (2 for 5), no Sox hitter has had much success at all versus Moore during his short career. In fact Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Will Middlebrooks are a combined 5 for 53 (.094), with just three walks and one hit by pitch between them.
On the flip side, the Rays are very familiar with Red Sox Jon Lester having faced him four times this season and 26 times overall since the start of the 2007 season. The Rays' most dangerous hitter, Evan Longoria, is also the most well-versed in Lester's repertoire, having faced the Sox ace 63 times, producing 13 hits, eight walks, four home runs and 10 RBIs. Another tough out for Lester is rookie Will Myers who on July 23 homered and doubled in his first two (of three) at bats vs. the Sox southpaw. And despite being a lefthanded swinger, don't be surprised to see Matt Joyce come up to face Lester after producing a .417 lifetime average with two home runs (one in each of the past two seasons) and six RBIs against Lester in 11 at bats.
Check back here for more statistical previews prior to each of the Red Sox postseason games.
Follow David Sabino on Twitter @SabinoSports
The author is solely responsible for the content.
He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrateds 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.
Now living in Marblehead, hes focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.