BOSTON — The Tampa Bay Rays have until 10 a.m. today to submit their American League Division Series roster.
This one will differ from the one used in Wednesday’s wild-card game, since the Rays will carry four starting pitchers. They carried three catchers Wednesday, and that could be whittled to two to allow for another relief pitcher.
Also, the Rays might not afford the luxury of having OF Kevin Kiermaier for defensive purposes for this best-of-five series.
The biggest name not to make the ALDS roster likely will be RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who struggled nearly the entire season and won once in his last eight decisions as a starter.
Manager Joe Maddon said he will announce the Game 4 (if necessary) starter today. LHP Matt Moore will pitch Game 1, followed by LHP David Price and RHP Alex Cobb for Games 2 and 3. Chris Archer would appear to be the Game 4 starter.
The Red Sox won 28 more games this season than in 2012 and won the AL East going away. There are a number of reasons for the turnaround, namely improved starting pitcher.
But manager John Farrell said OF Jonny Gomes, the one-time Ray, has his thumb prints on the team’s success.
Farrell mentioned Gomes’ fierce competitive nature and his ability to get a big hit. Gomes has a knack for hitting Rays RHP Joel Peralta (5-for-10, three home runs). But Gomes’ biggest impact comes in the clubhouse, Farrell said.
“It’s been grit,” Farrell said. “It’s been a smart player and one that I think a lot of other guys draw a lot of confidence from because of the way he plays the game, the way he talks about it.”
Farrell said Gomes is in the middle of everything, from the team’s response to the Boston Marathon bombings to organizing team dinners.
“Jonny is right in the middle of the party,” Farrell said.
Moore threw his first career shutout during his last start at Fenway Park. That’s one reason why the Rays feel good about Moore facing the Red Sox today.
The other is Moore is a 17-game winner this season.
“Stuff-wise is high end,” Maddon said.
Sometimes Moore is wild. If he’s not giving up hits between the walks, Maddon said Moore can use being wild to his advantage.
“He walks this different kind of tightrope that maybe some pitchers don’t walk, but he’s able to do it,” Maddon said.
The Rays and Red Sox have had their moments over the years. Pitchers have thrown at batters, benches have cleared, players have been suspended.
OF Sam Fuld, who grew up in New Hampshire, watched the rivalry develop.
“Obviously, for a long time, at least when I was a Red Sox fan, the Devil Rays were just kind of somebody to beat up on, but there was also kind of a physical aspect to it, too,” Fuld said. “It’s continued to the way it is now, but there’s also been sort of a heated rivalry. It used to be Boston dominating the Devil Rays, but now, obviously, we kind of evened ourselves out, so it’s more than just a couple of bench-clearing incidents now. It’s really good baseball now.”
The Rays became the sixth team in postseason history to shut out a team while allowing at least nine hits in nine innings. ... The Rays will have been on the road for 14 days when they return home after Saturday’s Game 2. They will have traveled 5,631 miles by air when they touch down in Tampa. ... 1B James Loney started 16 double plays during the regular season, the most among AL first baseman ... The Rays ended two opponents’ 10-game winning streaks this season — Toronto’s in July and Cleveland’s on Wednesday. ... The Rays are 12-14 in postseason play and 7-6 on the road, including 2-1 at Fenway Park.