As a reward for winning the division, the Red Sox and their fans are rewarded with rest. We can all sit back and watch as three other teams in the league try and cling to their playoff hopes. Last season, we could also enjoy the last day of the regular season with no pressure. This season, though, it was more fun.
Unfortunately the ultimate chaos didn’t happen. I think most of us were hoping for a Cleveland loss to be added to the Texas and Tampa wins. That would have resulted in a three way tie, with a bizarre tiebreaking series to decide who advances. Having a potential first round opponent have to play three play-in games before they faced the Sox was an opportunity that would have been more than welcomed. As it stands, the Rays and the Rangers need to play one tiebreaking game to see who moves on. Shades of last season. If there wasn’t going to be the three-way, I’d just as soon the Rays lost yesterday to get them out of the equation. In theory, this just makes it easier for the Indians to advance, as opposed to handing the Red Sox an exhausted gift. Plus, I still have an annoyance towards the Rays. Maybe it’s a holdover from the utterly classless Devil Rays days. Maybe I still remember them trying to establish the inside pitch on Brian Daubach. Or, maybe I think those themed road trips are about the corniest things even imagined. But, for whatever reason I want bad things to happen to the Rays whenever possible. Not quite at the Yankees level, but certainly more than anyone else.
While the Red Sox wait, they are apparently going to have an intrasquad game on Wednesday to keep everyone sharp. Personally, I can’t help thinking about Ted Williams in 1946. So, I wonder if there are any extra rules in place for this game. Is it actually an intrasquad game? Or more of a simulated game? Is the inside half of the plate forbidden? Can a runner break up a double play? Can an outfielder dive for a liner or crash into a wall? Are they letting Pedroia play? While I understand the point, it still scares me.
I also think it’s interesting that apparently Buchholz and Peavy will be the starters in that game…implying that Lester and Lackey will be starting games one and two. While those are the choices I would have made, I think it’s funny that it pushes Buchholz to the third game. The guy was 11-1 this year with a 1.74 ERA, and the Sox set up their rotation to have him pitch game three. That’s incredible. It’s quite a testament to the balance of the rotation. The Sox have other options that allow them to push him back a little bit. In a five game series, that could be quite a weapon. The third game could be the most important game of the series (non-clincher category). The Sox haven’t been able to have someone like Clay in that spot for a long time.
So we sit waiting for the opponent. Waiting to see who will be coming to Boston.
Hoping for extra innings.