Jon Lester was the starter for the Red Sox and had not allowed an earned run in the postseason since Game 2 of last year's ALCS. Alas, Monday night validated an old cliché that says, "That's why they play the games."
The Rays jumped on Lester early and added further damage against his replacement while the "other" pitcher, Matt Garza, gave the Rays a quality start en route to a 9-1 win at Fenway Park.
The Rays took a 2-1 advantage in the series -- thanks in large part to two big homers over the famed Green Monster in left field -- and from an historical perspective, they greatly enhanced their chances of winning the series. In best-of-seven ALCS history, if the road team wins Game 3 after the series was tied at 1-1, that team has won the series six out of eight times.
"It's one game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Regardless of if we won or lost tonight, I would have talked about the same thing, because I believe it. Because it is about one game at a time and I know they believe that. And I think we've learned that lesson this year also.
"It's all about starting pitching tomorrow night. They're going to come out loaded for bear. And we have to play another good game tomorrow night. There's nothing to be taken for granted right now. It's one game."
B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria provided the initial Rays fireworks with home runs in the third inning of a game they already led, 1-0. Rocco Baldelli and Carlos Pena later added the final blows.
ALCS Game 3 road success a key indicator
|The Rays became the ninth team to win Game 3 of a best-of-seven ALCS on the road after entering the game tied 1-1 in the series. Six of the previous eight teams advanced to the World Series.|
|Year||Won G3 on road||G3 home team|
|ALCS-winning teams shown in bold.|
Upton's homer might have been the most critical hit of the night coming after Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura had set the table with a single and a double, respectively. Upton connected on a 2-1 pitch from Lester, sending a drive soaring over the Green Monster for a three-run homer that gave the Rays a 4-0 lead. The runs ended Lester's streak of 24 2/3 consecutive postseason innings without allowing an earned run.
"I think it definitely gave us some momentum," Upton said. "Solo home runs are good, but a three-run homer, and we got that run early, so that put us up 4-0 and gave us all the confidence in the world."
Upton hit nine home runs in 531 at-bats during the regular season and followed with five home runs in his first 28 postseason at-bats, two in the ALCS and three in the AL Division Series. Upton just smiled when asked to explain how that happens.
"I can't," Upton said. "They're perfect swings and they happen every once in a while. That's what's happening right now."
One out after Upton's shot, Longoria hit a 2-2 Lester offering over the Monster to put the Rays up, 5-0. Longoria's home run was his second of the ALCS and fourth of the postseason. The four home runs tied Longoria with Miguel Cabrera for the most home runs in the postseason by a rookie. Cabrera hit four during the 2003 postseason for the Marlins.
"We knew it was going to be a pitcher's duel," Longoria said. "Fortunately, [Lester] made a couple of mistakes early and we were able to capitalize on those."
Specifically, Longoria said Lester left the ball up in the zone.
GAME 4: JUST THE FACTS
|Rays starter: RHP Andy Sonnanstine|
|2008: 13-9, 4.38 ERA|
|2008 on the road: 6-5, 4.35 ERA|
|2008 vs. Red Sox: 0-0, 0.00 ERA (two starts)|
|Career vs. Red Sox: 1-1, 5.40 ERA (six starts)|
|2008 postseason: 1-0, 3.18 ERA|
|Career postseason: 1-0, 3.18 ERA|
|Red Sox starter: RHP Tim Wakefield|
|2008: 10-11, 4.13 ERA|
|2008 at home: 7-4, 3.10 ERA|
|2008 vs. Rays: 0-2, 5.87 ERA (three starts)|
|Career vs. Rays: 19-5, 3.32 ERA (41 games, 31 starts)|
|2008 postseason: First appearance|
|Career postseason: 5-6, 6.36 ERA|
|Rays lead series, 2-1. Road teams that win Game 3 of an ALCS after being tied at a game apiece have gone on to win a best-of-seven series six out of eight times.|
|Game 1: Red Sox 2, Rays 0|
|Game 2: Rays 9, Red Sox 8 (11 innings)|
|Game 3: Rays 9, Red Sox 1|
|Did You Know? The Red Sox dropped Game 3 to fall behind in a best-of-seven ALCS and came back to win twice -- in 1986 over the Angels, then last year against Cleveland.|