BOSTON — Never say die ... that’s what the Red Sox and Rays are all about.
Boston has 21 come-from-behind wins, 15 wins in its last at-bat and nine walkoff victories. Tampa Bay has 25 come-from-behind wins, 10 wins in its last at-bat and six walkoffs.
“We’re two teams that compete for nine innings and 27 outs,” Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo said. “We have a cast of characters here that knows what it takes to compete every day and to compete for a full season. I think they have the same remedy over there in Tampa.”
The Red Sox and Rays met at Fenway Park last night in the second-game of a four-game series with first place on the line. The Red Sox prevailed 6-2 to increase their AL East lead to 1.5 over red hot Tampa.
First place in the division is so important with the new two-Wild Card team playoff format implemented last year. Teams want to avoid that one-game Wild Card playoff at all costs. With the Rays so talented and so hot (18-3 over their past 21 games), Boston likely will need to continue to play nearly .600 baseball to win the East.
Do they have it in them? Maybe.
The thing you have to like about this year’s Red Sox team is their ability to grind out wins in games they appeared to have had no business winning. Boston has some victories that you would have marked down as loses by the third inning in 2012. A third of this team’s wins have been of the come-from-behind variety, which is incredible.
Lovullo pointed to Sunday’s 8-7, 11-inning walkoff victory over New York as one of those character wins in which the team’s personality showed. The Red Sox were down 3-0 early Sunday — because of sloppy defense — and going against ace CC Sabathia. They also relinquished a 7-3 lead late but managed to win despite using a pair of inexperienced relievers in extra innings.