RED SOX VS RAYS:
Boston and Tampa Bay played 19 times in the regular season, and they’ve played two games in their ALDS matchup, but Red Sox’ skipper Alex Cora told reporters on Saturday afternoon in advance of Game 3 that he and his club are still learning about the Rays.
“I think you learn every day from the opposition,” he explained.
“We learn from them the first time they came here, and we learned from them yesterday.
“We keep trying to get better and trying to find ways to get people out or trying to find ways to attack their pitchers.
“We’re in constant — in this game, you learn every day, and you keep getting better. That’s what we try to do. We did it with the Yankees that last weekend. We lost three in a row, and we learned a lot from them. We’ve been learning about the Rays over the course of the season.
“Our goal is to be better than them on a daily basis, and whatever we can learn the day before, the night before, we’ll use it to our advantage.”
The Rays will try to do the same, make adjustments against an opponent they know well, as they take on Red Sox’ righty Nathan Eovaldi for the fifth time this season, after he put up a 2.39 ERA, seven walks, 31 Ks, and a .160/.218/.319 line against in 26 1⁄3 IP.
“Look, he’s a power pitcher,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think he’s evolved here over the last couple seasons being able to use the cutter, the curveball, the split a little bit more. He’s learned about himself, but the adjustments that he makes from start to start, it was talked about from the adjustments he made from the Yankee game during the regular season to the Wild-Card game.
“I would anticipate that he’s going to have his own adjustments that he is going to want to use against us. Saying that, he’s pitched well against us this year.”
Who will take the advantage in the series after the Sox and Rays split the first two games of the series?
Tony LaRussa’s White Sox won 93 games total in the regular season, taking the AL Central by 13.0 games, but with back-to-back losses in the first two games of their ALDS matchup with the Astros, they’re on the brink of elimination in the best-of-five series, so how is their veteran skipper approaching the win-or-go-home matchup today?
“It’s really an easy answer, maybe hard to believe, but I am what I was taught,” LaRussa said.
“I manage [in] Spring Training like it is the last game I am going to manage in my life. You get used to the urgency. Not that I can — that’s how I feel.
“Obviously, you have different considerations about getting guys innings and all that stuff, but the urgency is you practice every day from Spring Training until now. You kid many times about wanting to win a game in the Spring Training, but it’s the truth. Therefore, you get to that top elevation of urgency and focus, and that’s — you can’t go back. You can go below that. I try not to.”
And from the Astros’ side? How is Dusty Baker approaching things going into today’s game with a 2-0 lead in the series?
“It’s not like this is their first time being here, which helps a lot,” Baker said.
“It’s a compliment. Hopefully at a certain age you become a little bit wise. I think I should be there by now, but it is — every game is different. I’ve come back from 0-2 in my career as a manager or as a player. I’ve come back and we’ve also had a 2-0 lead or a 3-1 lead at different points. You try not to let them get off the mat and get closer to you, so you have to stay after it.”
And what, if anything, has he learned from previous series where he had a 2-0 lead and did not win it?
“I don’t know,” Baker said. “I don’t think back upon that too much. You know, mainly that’s past water. If you get in that situation again, which you try not to, and sometimes not a whole bunch you can do about it.”
“Sometimes it depends if they get a key hit or if they get a great pitch against you. That’s no reflection on you or your team sometimes,” he said.
“Sometimes you get beat. And so, like I said, I’ve had — I’ve been on both sides. You know? I’ve been down. I’ve been up. I’ve been up and down. So right now I’m thinking up.”
The Red Sox and Rays play at 4:07 PM ET this afternoon and the Astros and White Sox play at 8:07 PM. Enjoy your ALDS matchups...