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Road-warrior Rays ready for Red Sox

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- The Tampa Bay Rays' never-ending -- and never-losing -- road trip now takes them to Boston for what will be the fourth stop in the six days.

The Rays will play the Red Sox in a best-of-five American League Division Series beginning Friday at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox will represent the Rays' fourth opponent in as many games. Tampa Bay beat the Blue Jays in Toronto on Sunday in the regular-season finale to keep their postseason hopes alive, then downed the Texas Rangers at Arlington a night later in the tiebreaker for the second AL wild card.

On Wednesday night, the Rays blanked the Indians 4-0 at Cleveland in the AL wild-card game to advance to the ALDS.

The Rays lost 12 of 19 games to the Red Sox in the regular season, though, as they were held to a .232 batting average and three runs a game.

"They really pitched well against us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We just did not swing the bats well, and that speaks to their pitching. They have a really good pitching staff. They have a great starting staff. They have a tremendous bullpen. I do anticipate a lot of the same in the playoffs as we continue."

Then again, the Rays' pitching staff also did well against the Red Sox, holding Boston to a .208 batting average and 3.7 runs a game.

"We feel very confident about our pitchers pitching against anybody, and we've done well against them," Maddon said. "Part of that is our guys are used to pitching or playing in that venue, whether it's Yankee Stadium packed, Fenway Park packed, we kind of dig it. I think that's part of it, why we're able to perform relatively well there."

Game 1 will feature a matchup of marquee left-handers, with Tampa Bay's Matt Moore (17-4) facing off against Boston's Jon Lester (15-8).

Boston had a breeze week awaiting its opening opponent. The Red Sox held a workout at Fenway Park Thursday. That followed a red-blue intrasquad game Wednesday.

The Red Sox haven't played since Sept. 29.

"No one's looking at the layoff as a detriment," manager John Farrell said.
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