Road to the World Series: Oct. 9, 2013
Red Sox advance by ousting Rays; Tigers' clutch victory forces Game 5
For the first time in five years, there will be American League Championship Series baseball in Boston.
And for the second straight year, there will be an AL Division Series Game 5 between the Tigers and A's in Oakland.
Those were the takeaways on the Road to the World Series after another stunning day and night of October baseball on Tuesday.
The Red Sox beat the tough Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, in Game 4 in St. Petersburg to close out that series, 3-1, and Boston will begin the ALCS on its home turf on Saturday.
And the Tigers fought off elimination, toughing out a grueling 8-6 victory over the A's in Game 4 that forced a Thursday finale in Oakland that will determine who shows up at Fenway Park to meet the Red Sox and play for the pennant, starting this Saturday on FOX.
Although it was the late game, Boston's win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday gets top billing because it ended with a champagne party.
It might not have been easy for the Red Sox, but beating the Rays is never easy. Boston had Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson on the ropes early and manager Joe Maddon didn't hesitate to pull his starter in the second inning of a scoreless game.
That set the tone for Tampa Bay's revolving door of pitching changes (Maddon used nine pitchers in all), a strategy that worked until the Red Sox, trailing, 1-0, in the seventh, scored two runs to take the lead, adding an insurance run in the ninth to end it.
Now, they're going back home for a chance to get back into the World Series for the first time since 2007.
"This team loves playing at Fenway, and love the atmosphere that's created there," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To maintain some momentum and fight back the way we did when not much was happening or breaks weren't coming our way, tonight was a big night for obvious reasons."
The Tigers and A's battled in a five-game Division Series last year, which concluded in Oakland with Justin Verlander beating the A's to move on.
After Tuesday, it'll be the same situation, the same setting and the same Detroit starter.
Detroit made sure of it in Game 4, beating Oakland in a wild, entertaining, seesaw of a baseball game that offered plenty of offense and even more intrigue.
SEE YOU IN OAKLAND! #WeBelieveDET- Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 9, 2013
The A's forged a 3-0 lead, but Jhonny Peralta tied the game with one swing -- a three-run home run off A's starter Dan Straily. The A's took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh, but the Tigers came right back and regained the advantage for good when Victor Martinez homered off Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle to tie it and Austin Jackson singled in a run later in the inning.
The Tigers broke it open with three more runs in the eighth to go up, 8-4. The A's scored twice in the ninth, but Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit sealed the victory.
Manager Bob Melvin was asked in the aftermath if the A's had felt comfortable with the three-run lead. He said no. Not a chance.
"Look, they have a good offensive club," Melvin said. "You've got to finish it out for nine innings. Just because we had the lead doesn't mean you're going to win the game."
As for the Tigers, they knew the task at hand and will now hand the ball to Verlander on Thursday. It's a spot they were in last year and a spot they find themselves in once again.
"We just do it like we have been doing it all season long," Martinez said. "We end up winning a pretty good ballgame and it's over, turn the page.
"We go to Oakland now and play another game. We all know it's a tough place to play, but like I say, we have been doing a great job all season long just turning the page and go to the next day and play a brand new ballgame, and see what happens."
The Road to the World Series will continue for one team and end for the other on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, when there's only one game to be played.
Then again, what a game it's shaping up to be.
Game 5 of the NL Division Series between the evenly matched Pirates and Cardinals will be the 24th game in which these two teams have faced each other since Opening Day, including the four in this incredible series. The Pirates have won 12 and the Cardinals have won 11. The Cardinals have scored 102 runs in those games, the Pirates 99.
"We respect the talent that they have ... how they fight until the end, just like it's the kind of baseball we want to play," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
"But with that being said, it comes down to going out and competing regardless of who we're playing against and whether there's good history, bad history. It doesn't matter. We're going out to win every single night. And the fact that it is another NL Central team, we've seen a lot of each other. There's a lot of adjustments to try and make, and it's who's going to be one step ahead and who's going to execute. That's what it comes down to."
And for any advantage observers might give to St. Louis on Wednesday because of home-field advantage and ace Adam Wainwright on the mound for the Cardinals, the Pirates like where they are. They've considered themselves underdogs all year long, and now they have rookie Gerrit Cole, their best starting pitcher of late, taking the hill for the deciding game.
"What we have seen since Gerrit has been here has been a young man that continues to improve," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He uses his eyes very well and he uses his ears very well. The competitive edge that he takes on the mound is visible. The emotion that he pitches with, I think you've been able to see over the course of time. That's special and that can be significant.
"The flat-out skill set, the no fear. He respects everything. He fears nothing. The volume of work has put him into place to have success tomorrow night ... that's my feeling."
The Cardinals have similar feelings about Wainwright, who has been on World Series-winning teams as a starter and closer and got the ball in Game 5 of the Division Series last year against the Nationals. Wainwright wasn't at his best in that outing and was in a position to take the loss when his team uncorked a furious, improbable rally to win the series.
Wainwright said he learned valuable lessons from that outing.
"I persevered through some hard times, and the fact of the matter is last year, I pitched a good Game 1 [of the Division Series], terrible Game 5 [of the Division Series] and a good Game 4 of the NLCS, but there's no guarantee my stuff would have returned in the World Series had we even got there," Wainwright said.
"This year, I have all the confidence in the world in my stuff. I will be prepared. I will be confident going into the game. It's just a completely different situation."
Wednesday's Division Series game
Pirates (Cole) at Cardinals (Wainwright), 8 p.m. ETPreview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON MATCHUPS
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers at A's
Division Series: Pirates at Cardinals | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1, Series tied, 2-2
Game 5: Pirates at Cardinals, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET (TBS)
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Dodgers win series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Red Sox win series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6, Series tied, 2-2
Game 5: Tigers at A's, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (TBS)
NL Championship Series (All games on TBS)
Game 1: Lower seed at Higher seed, Friday, TBD
Game 2: Lower seed at Higher seed, Saturday, TBD
Game 3: Higher seed at Lower seed, Monday, Oct. 14, TBD
Game 4: Higher seed at Lower seed, Tuesday, Oct. 15, TBD
Game 5*: Higher seed at Lower seed, Wednesday, Oct. 16, TBD
Game 6*: Lower seed at Higher seed, Friday, Oct. 18, TBD
Game 7*: Lower seed at Higher seed, Saturday, Oct. 19, TBD
* - if necessary
AL Championship Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Tigers/A's winner at Red Sox, Saturday, TBD
Game 2: Tigers/A's winner at Red Sox, Sunday, TBD
Game 3: Red Sox at Tigers/A's winner, Tuesday, Oct. 15, TBD
Game 4: Red Sox at Tigers/A's winner, Wednesday, Oct. 16, TBD
Game 5*: Red Sox at Tigers/A's winner, Thursday, Oct. 17, TBD
Game 6*: Tigers/A's winner at Red Sox, Saturday, Oct. 19, TBD
Game 7*: Tigers/A's winner at Red Sox, Sunday, Oct. 20, TBD
* - if necessary
World Series begins: Oct. 23.