Published January 13, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - Clay Buchholz tries to pitch the Boston Red Sox to a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, as the American League Division Series shifts to Tropicana Field for Game 3.
After annihilating the Rays, 12-2, in Game 1, Boston did not let up in Game 2, as David Ortiz smacked two solo homers in the Red Sox' 7-4 triumph at Fenway Park.
"He's the main cog in our lineup," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Ortiz.
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits, three runs scored and an RBI and Dustin Pedroia drove in three for Boston, which has tallied 25 hits through the first two games.
Boston has won the first two games of a postseason series eight times and has gone on to win that series in seven of those.
"It's not over," Ortiz said. "We know we're playing against a good ballclub. They always find a way to win games, and you can't take anything for granted."
Boston pounded the 2012 AL Cy Young-winner David Price (0-1) for seven runs on nine hits and two walks over seven-plus innings.
John Lackey yielded four runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 1/3 frames in his first postseason start for the Red Sox. Lackey posted a 10-13 mark with a 3.52 ERA in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
James Loney belted a two-run double among his two hits for the Rays, who hope a return home can jumpstart a team that won three win-or-go-home games in three different cities to even reach this series.
"We just went through a week of (our) backs against the wall, so it's not new to us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Boston this time of the year is kind of lovely, and I'm looking forward to coming back in a few days."
Of the previous 22 AL teams that have lost the first two games of a division series, only four rallied to advance. After dropping the first two in the 2010 Division Series to the Texas Rangers, Tampa forced a Game 5, but lost.
It won't be easy for them on Monday as they go up against a fully-healthy Buchholz, who missed more than three months with a sore right shoulder, but ended the season 12-1 with a sparkling 1.74 ERA.
"I just think this year the goal started in Spring Training to make it to the postseason. And this is a whole other season past the regular season," he said of a tight-knit Red Sox team. "We've had the same thoughts and same goals in mind. That's sort of what's driven us to this point now. But it's been -- I can definitely say it's been the funnest time I've had on a baseball field on and off with the guys."
He was 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA after returning, including a win over the Rays in his first start back that saw him throw five scoreless innings. In fact, Buchholz holds a 2.26 ERA at Tropicana Field, which is the best mark among active starters with a minimum of 35 innings.
"Listen, he's pretty much pitched well against us, period," Maddon said. "I know there are even times when he was not going well, but if he saw Rays on the front of our uniform, he would pitch well.
"This guy is really good. The answer is, I don't think we're doing necessarily anything differently. It's hard, because he's got really good stuff, and when he's got command of what's going on, his stuff plays really well against us."
Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with righty Alex Cobb, who tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings to beat the Cleveland Indians in Wednesday's wild card game.
"It's going to be the same mindset: It's win or go home," Cobb said Sunday. "So I don't want to be the one sending us home. I'm going to give everything I've got out there."
Cobb went 11-3 with a 2.25 ERA this year in his first full season and was a remarkable 7-0 with a 2.81 ERA in 13 starts at home.
"He has good stuff, man," Ortiz said of Cobb. "I watched him pitch the other day against Cleveland, and his stuff ... he was on. Tampa Bay has great pitching. You can never doubt them. You've got to come in, play well because they are just like we are. The minute you make a mistake, they hunt you down. Good teams, that's what it's all about."
A native of Boston, Cobb is just 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA in seven starts against the Red Sox. Tampa lost all four of his starts versus Boston this season.
Tampa actually beat the Red Sox in seven games back in 2008 to advance to the World Series in the only other postseason series between the clubs.