CHICAGO – B.J. Upton and these Tampa Bay Rays are headed home — to get ready for the American League championship series.
Worst in the majors last year, the Rays will play for a spot in the World Series after finishing off the Chicago White Sox 6-2 Monday in Game 4 of the AL playoffs.
Upton homered twice, Andy Sonnanstine pitched a solid 5 2-3 innings and manager Joe Maddon's surprising Rays won 3-1 in the best-of-five series — their first trip to the postseason. Next up, the Boston Red Sox or the Los Angeles Angels starting Friday.
After staving off elimination several times and winning a tiebreaker for the AL Central title, the White Sox were finally knocked out.
The loss dashed Chicago's hope for a championship — days ago, local fans were thinking the Cubs and White Sox might meet in a Windy City Classic. But the Cubs got swept by the Dodgers and now both teams are done.
Upton, the game's second batter, homered to left-center to put the Rays ahead. He went deep again in the third, driving a full-count pitch from Gavin Floyd to center, and the confident Rays had a two-run cushion.
Tampa Bay, which never won more than 70 games during its 10 previous seasons, went from 96 losses last year to 97 wins and passed the big-spending Red Sox and New York Yankees in the AL East.
BOSTON — Jason Bay slid headfirst into home plate to score on Jed Lowrie's two-out single in the ninth inning Monday as the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 and advanced to the American League finals for the fourth time in six seasons.
The Red Sox brushed aside the 100-win Angels in four games of their AL Division Series.
Boston which also won it all in 2004, will have a chance at a third title in five years if they can get past the Rays in the best-of-seven AL championship series that starts at Tampa Bay on Friday. Boston is 31-16 in October since the turn of the century, and both World Series runs began with a playoff sweep of the Angels.
Los Angeles was able to force the series to a fourth game with an extra-inning victory Sunday night that snapped an 11-game playoff losing streak against Boston.
As it turned out, that gave them less than an 24 extra hours.
Jon Lester held the Angels to four hits in seven shutout innings but lost his chance at a second victory in the series when Los Angeles scored twice in the eighth to tie it 2-all. The Angels had a chance to go ahead in the ninth before Erick Aybar, whose 12th-inning single was the winner in Game 3, missed on a suicide squeeze attempt, thwarting the threat.