As the Rays face the Boston Red Sox tonight in front of a sold out crowd at Tropicana Field, it’s a do or die situation. Everything is on the line tonight for the Rays, considering the Red Sox lead the division series 2-0 and can clinch with a third win tonight. But this is not the first time the two teams have squared off in the postseason.
In 2008, during the Rays’ first franchise postseason appearance, Tampa Bay and Boston met in the American League Championship Series. With the Red Sox winning Game 1, the Rays went on to win Games 2-4. However, the Rays gave up Games 5 and 6 to the Red Sox, pushing the series to a crucial Game 7. The Rays were able to secure a 3-1 victory and advance to make their first World Series appearance to cap off a storybook season of firsts for the franchise.
The Rays have also faced a crucial Game 3 of the American League Division Series before, when they lost the first two games to the Texas Rangers in 2010. While the Rays were able to rally and win Games 3 and 4 to force the series to Game 5, the Rangers won and advanced to the ALCS.
The Red Sox have a much longer list of playoff appearances, not to mention a successful list, in these Game 3 types of situations. On eight different occasions, the Red Sox have won the first two games of a postseason series, going on to win seven of those series. Boston’s only failure is the 1986 World Series, where the Mets came from behind and won Games 3 and 4 to tie the series at 2-2. While the Red Sox went on to win Game 5, the Mets managed to win Game 6 and take home the World Series title after winning Game 7.
History and many critics say that the Red Sox are going to win Game 3 tonight and advance to the ALCS, leaving the Rays to clean out their lockers and start the offseason tomorrow. But if any team can come from behind to defeat Boston, it should be the Rays.
The Rays are resilient in these types of situations. During the regular season’s final three-game series against Toronto, the Rays could have clinched the first Wild Card slot by winning the first game against Toronto. Instead, the Rays lost the first two games to the Blue Jays and almost gave away their playoff spot. However, the Rays reminded us how they can deliver when it matters most, as they beat the Blue Jays 7-6 in the third and final game of the series to extend their season to one more game.