Good Evening
Good Evening

Too much rest for Red Sox? That's not an issue for Rays

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester smiles during

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester smiles during a team workout at Fenway Park. (Oct. 1, 2013) Credit: AP

BOSTON - John Farrell has no clue. Nor does anyone else.

"We'll see that starting tomorrow," Farrell said of how his club will respond to four days off.

The Red Sox and Rays begin their ALDS at Fenway Park Friday afternoon, with Boston's Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) facing Tampa Bay's Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29).

They are two teams whose roads here couldn't have been much different.

The Red Sox clinched their playoff spot Sept. 19, and though securing home-field advantage didn't occur until the final weekend, their path doesn't compare to Tampa Bay's.

In the previous four days, the Rays won three games in three different cities. Had they lost any of them, their season would have been over.

Most recent was Wednesday night in the AL wild-card game in Cleveland, a 4-0 victory. On Monday night, it was a play-in game in Arlington, Texas, to get into the wild-card game. And had they lost in Toronto on Sunday, they would have failed to reach the play-in game.

And that doesn't even take into account the frenetic close to the regular season. After a 4-13 stretch Aug. 25-Sept. 11, the Rays have won 15 of 20.

There has been much less drama for Boston, which worked out this week and held an intrasquad game at Fenway Park on Wednesday.

History has not treated teams with long breaks in the postseason well, most recently in 2012. After a four-game sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS, the Tigers had five days off before starting the World Series against the Giants. Having played a five-game NLDS and seven-game NLCS, the Giants were heavy underdogs but swept the rusty Tigers, who also held an intrasquad game to try to stay fresh before the Series.

"We've been able to get everything accomplished that we had hoped," Farrell said. "That includes a good number of pitchers that got to the mound [Wednesday], our regular players getting to see live pitching . . . We knew going in it was going to be Friday. And we could gear everything toward that from our on-field work and certainly our mental approach toward [Friday] being the first game. I think we're primed and ready to go."

Not surprisingly, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon prefers his club's situation. The Rays traveled here from Cleveland on Thursday -- their third day off in the last 42 -- and worked out later in the afternoon.

"I would prefer right now, honestly, what we're doing," Maddon said. "We were not really that good this year following days off, for whatever reason. And I know we're getting one right now, but it's not going to feel like one. It's almost like Tuesday is going to blend into Wednesday or Thursday into Friday. So you gain this momentum, at this time of year it's kind of nice."

And Friday, for the first time all week, the feeling for the Rays won't be the equivalent of a Game 7. Lose and they won't go home.

"We've been talking about these Game 7s, like three in a row, it's a different kind of vibe," Maddon said. "When you walk into the dugout, you feel confident that you can do these things. Boston, on the other hand, they're well rested. Their bullpen is in great order . . . But from our perspective, it just seems like we do better when we're pushed and we don't get a lot of rest, we don't overthink, and we just go play."

New York Sports