On Wednesday, Oct. 2, the Red Sox will have their feet on ottomans, watching the American League one-game wild card/play-in game. Unless the A’s or Tigers go on a major run in the next couple of weeks or the Sox go on a slide, which has been unheard of this magical season, Boston will be fully focused on that hump day game.
Which teams would they most like to see beat each other up in that game before tackling the winner two days later?
Well, Boston has proven capable of beating all of them this season – nothing surprising coming from a team on pace for 100 wins. But there are the typical things in play for October that teams like the Sox would like to avoid, elite pitching being at the top of any list.
Tampa Bay is currently slumping but one would have to believe that John Farrell and Co. would like to avoid the likes of Matt Moore (15 wins), David Price (who is historically superb against Boston) and Fernando Rodney (35 saves this season). Not counting a May 15 game in which Price left the game due to a triceps injury, the Tampa lefty is averaging 7.2 innings and a 1.25 ERA in four starts this year against the Sox. Still, the Sox went 12-7 overall against the Tropicana kids this season.
The Sox would love to have the Yankees climb back in the race as they went 13-6 against the Bombers this season. Boston has feasted on Yankees pitching this season, outscoring their rivals 120-85.
The Rangers, who held a slim lead for the final wild card spot as of Monday, have had success against the Sox this year, winning the season series, 4-2. It should be noted, however that this success came in the early part of the year, as Texas and Boston have not met since June 6.
Executives at TBS have to be salivating at the thought of Cleveland advancing to play the Sox as the storyline of Terry Francona facing his former team would sell itself. Farrell went 6-1 this season against his former mentor, but the two clubs haven’t met since Memorial Day weekend.
The Orioles, whom the Sox face tonight, would be a stiff test as the Birds are 7-6 this season against Boston. Even moreso than Price, the Sox would likely be frightened to see Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who is 3-0 this year against Boston with a sparkling 1.42 ERA.
Kansas City is a long-shot at this point as it would have to climb over four other teams to get to the postseason. But if there is one team that has made the Sox look mortal in 2013, it is the Royals as they went 5-2 against Boston this season.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS