Red Sox-Yankees still looks sexy on paper to TV executives but Red Sox-Rays has been, arguably, the best rivalry in the AL East since at least 2008 – the year the boys from St. Pete outlasted Boston in seven ALCS games.
Not only has the baseball been great but emotions have often reached drastic levels between the two teams, starting with the Coco Crisp-James Shields fight in June of 2008 to Franklin Morales plunking Luke Scott over Memorial Day weekend in 2012 to John Lackey drilling Matt Joyce this past June.
“(Lackey) intentionally hit him when he did, there’s no question in my mind that he did,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said at the time of this past June’s incident. “And the sad part is that I’ve always considered Lackey a good teammate, but right there he can get one of his own players hurt … That was really a bad moment for him tonight.”
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Tampa Bay will tangle with Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) again Saturday in Game 2 of the ALDS (5:37 p.m., TBS) and will counter with the red-hot David Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA), who smoked Texas on Monday night with a complete game effort (seven hits allowed, two earned runs) in a wild card tie-breaker.
Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA) and Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) will face off in Game 1 Friday (3:07 p.m., TBS). The Rays still have to figure out who will start Game 3 on Monday at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox have Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) lined up in that one, with Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) scheduled to take the hill in Game 4 Tuesday.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS