It all comes down to this. The Rays have 88 wins. The Red Sox have 89 wins. The Rays have three games left, at home, against the Yankees. The Red Sox have three games left in Baltimore.

If the Rays win one more game than the Red Sox in these next three days, they will play a one-game playoff at The Trop on Thursday. Here are the pitching matchups for the Rays that could determine who goes on, and who goes home…

Monday: James Shields vs Hector Noesi — Shields has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League this season. Noesi will be making just his second start of the year after 28 relief appearances. His only other start was last week against the Rays, giving up 2 runs in 2.2 innings. And then consider that the Yankees played 23 innings yesterday and did not arrive in Tampa until early this morning…Advantage Rays

Tuesday: Jeremy Hellickson vs Bartolo Colon — Hellboy is still not the strikeout pitcher we have been expecting, but he has been great in the second half. In 12 starts since the break, he has a 2.50 ERA and the Rays are 7-5 in those starts. In his last start, he took a loss against the Yankees, but only allowed 2 runs in 7 innings. Colon’s season has taken the opposite road. After a strong first half (3.20 ERA) Colon has regressed, posting a 5.09 second-half ERA. And in his last two starts, he has allowed 11 runs in just 7 innings total…Advantage Rays

Wednesday: David Price vs Undecided — We are not sure what to expect from Price. In his last nine starts, he has held the opposition to two runs or less eight times. But after working five straight starts of 7 innings or more, Price has failed to finish 7 innings in any of his last four starts. The Yankees won’t start CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, or Ivan Nova. And Phil Hughes is in the bullpen. We would be surprised if they used Freddy Garcia on the eve of the playoffs if he will be in the bullpen. And we don’t see anybody else on the active roster that has made a start this season. So no matter who the Yankees throw out there…Advantage Rays

Thursday (if necessary): Undecided vs Undecided — The two options for the Rays are Jeff Niemann, who worked just 1 inning on Saturday and would be on normal rest, or Matt Moore. This is just a hunch, but the Rays may be leaning towards Moore, unless he is needed in relief the next three days. If Moore is used before Thursday, the one-game playoff would look like Saturday’s game. That is, Niemann will start and Alex Torres will be ready to go if Niemann gets into any trouble. The Red Sox will use Josh Beckett and Eric Bedard in the first two games of the Orioles series. Jon Lester would go on Wednesday if the Sox have not clinched yet. That leaves Tim Wakefield for a potential one-game playoff…Push



  1. Kelley says:

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to see.

  2. DRR says:

    The equally important information, though, is the match ups in the Red Sox - O's series. If the Rays lose, at least they can blame themselves. It is tough to be needing help from Baltimore ...

    • Sarah says:

      And that's why last night's Red Sox win was so important. If the Rays were tied, they could have assured at least a tie by sweeping the Yankees, so these pitching match ups would be extremely significant. As things stand now, we'd need to sweep the Yankees and find at least one Baltimore starter who looks like he can hold his own against a Red Sox team that may be slumping but still can hit. I guess I'd go with Zach Britton in that role.

  3. Hal says:

    I'll take my chances with Moore vs. Wakefield. I actually love the O's vs. Lester with the way he's been throwing lately. An aggressive swinging team with nothing to lose against a tired guy whose been tossing BP for a month now.

  4. Tom says:

    FYI- There is an excellent interview with Jim Hickey on Fangraphs discussing James Shields.

  5. Drew says:

    And unfortunately, the Yankees probably hold the offensive advantage in the final three games, even if they don't play all their starters

  6. CC says:

    Go Rays!!!!!!!!!! Beat the stinkin Yankees

  7. Phil says:

    need the yankee line up for tonight!

  8. Beth says:

    Cork, did you read the Bats post that mentions Rays Index? It's hugely insulting to Rays fans and bloggers. It's mention of Rays Index is barely complimentary. I even posted a comment on the Times page, I was so annoyed. I'm used to hearing that our fans don't show up to games, but this journalist, whose job apparently is to review the recent activity on blogs associated with wild card contending teams, has dismissed Rays bloggers with this paragraph:

    "We would love to give you a similarly in-depth look at how Tampa Bay Rays’ bloggers feel about this turn of events, but let’s just say the Rays don’t generate any more passion in the online world than they do in the analog world of the marketplace. That said, Rays Index does give a breakdown of the pitching matchups for the final three games of the season between the Rays and Yankees."


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