Commentary

Rays vs. Red Sox in 2008

Updated: October 10, 2008, 11:59 AM ET
By Mark Simon | ESPN Research

Before Friday's Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Rays and the Red Sox met in the regular season 18 times. Here's how each of those AL East games played out:

Game 1 -- April 25 at Tampa Bay: Rays 5, Red Sox 4 (11)

Recap: The inaugural meeting in the 2008 Rays-Red Sox series foreshadows what is to come the rest of the season. Tampa Bay prevails when Nathan Haynes, inserted as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the ninth, drives in Carl Crawford with an 11th-inning single against Mike Timlin.

Stat of the game:

Most Walk-Off Wins: 2008 Season
Rays 11
Athletics 11
Brewers 11
Cardinals 11
Marlins 11
Reds 11

Game 2 -- April 26 at Tampa Bay: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Recap: Clay Buchholz has a 1-0 shutout heading into the bottom of the eighth, but the Rays rally to win. Dioner Navarro singles with one out and Akinori Iwamura homers to put Tampa Bay ahead. The Red Sox go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth against Troy Percival, and the Rays have their second straight win.

Stat of the game:

Most Games Won
With 3 Hits or Fewer: 2008
Rays 2
Brewers 2
Angels 2
Reds 2

Game 3 -- April 27 at Tampa Bay: Rays 3, Red Sox 0

Recap: James Shields completes a three-game Rays sweep, beating Josh Beckett by pitching a two-hit shutout. Beckett strikes out 13 batters, but still loses, thanks in part to a home run by rookie third baseman Evan Longoria. The Red Sox conclude the series with five straight losses.

Stat of the game: The season-high for most strikeouts by a pitcher in 2008 was 13, done 11 times. Beckett was the only pitcher to strike out 13 and take a loss in the same game.

Game 4 -- May 2 at Boston: Red Sox 7, Rays 3

Recap: The Red Sox score five runs in the fourth inning against Edwin Jackson and bash the Rays in the first meeting at Fenway Park in 2008. Dustin Pedroia leads the way with three hits and three RBIs.

Stat of the game: The Red Sox averaged 3.7 runs per game against the Rays at Tropicana Field, and 6.0 runs per game against the Rays at Fenway Park.

Game 5 -- May 3 at Boston: Red Sox 12, Rays 4

Recap: The Red Sox exact revenge on James Shields, who had shut them out in their previous meeting. The first four batters of the game for Boston hit safely as part of a three-run first inning. Boston scores in six of its eight turns overall and registers its second straight rout. Shields allows seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Stat of the game: James Shields, likely to pitch once at Fenway Park in the ALCS, is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in three career starts in Boston.

Game 6 -- May 4 at Boston: Red Sox 7, Rays 3

Recap: Jon Lester allows one run in six innings, as the Red Sox complete a three-game sweep. Kevin Youkilis homers, has two doubles and ties a career high with four RBIs to pace the Boston offense. Boston has five stolen bases, its most in a game in nearly six years.

Stat of the game: Kevin Youkilis led the Red Sox with 14 RBIs against the Rays, but hit only .232 against them.

Game 7 -- June 3 at Boston: Red Sox 7, Rays 4

Recap: The Red Sox rally from a 4-3 deficit with four runs in the sixth inning to move within a half-game of first place. Jason Bartlett's error leads to two unearned runs. Coco Crisp's two-run double puts Boston ahead for good.

Stat of the game: Coco Crisp hit .324 against the Rays in 2008, best among Red Sox with at least 20 plate appearances against Tampa Bay.

Game 8 -- June 4 at Boston: Red Sox 5, Rays 1

Recap: The Red Sox move into first place in the AL East behind Josh Beckett's pitching and win their 12th straight at home. Beckett allows one run in six innings and three different Red Sox pitch a scoreless inning apiece to close out the game. The Rays take exception to a Coco Crisp slide on a steal attempt in the eighth inning, which would lead to an altercation the next day.

Stat of the game:

Josh Beckett vs. Rays, 2008
W-L 2-1
ERA 2.06
Opp. BA .209
IP-K 35-37
Starts 5

Game 9 -- June 5 at Boston: Red Sox 7, Rays 1

Recap: For the second straight meeting, James Shields gets pummeled at Fenway Park. Boston again attacks early, scoring on Manny Ramirez's three-run home run in the first inning. Shields and Coco Crisp are each ejected from this game after Shields hits Crisp in the bottom of the second. Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis also have an altercation in the Boston dugout.

Stat of the game:

Most HRs vs. Rays, all-time
Manny Ramirez 41
Alex Rodriguez 38
David Ortiz 34

Game 10 -- June 30 at Tampa Bay: Rays 5, Red Sox 4

Recap: Back in first place, the Rays extend their lead on the Red Sox to 1½ games by winning the series opener in Tampa. Gabe Gross has a two-run homer to spark the Rays, whose bullpen survives a Boston rally in the ninth when J.P. Howell gets Julio Lugo to line to short with the tying run on third, ending the game.

Stat of the game: The Rays went 6-0 in one-run games against the Red Sox in 2008.

Game 11 -- July 1 at Tampa Bay: Rays 3, Red Sox 1

Recap: Matt Garza allows one run in seven innings, beating Tim Wakefield. Dioner Navarro has two RBIs, including a key hit to provide an insurance run in the eighth inning. Grant Balfour strikes out the side in the ninth to preserve the Rays win.

Stat of the game: From June 8 to July 8, Grant Balfour was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball. He allowed no runs and struck out 24 batters in 14 innings, spaced over 10 appearances. The Rays went 18-9 in that span.

Game 12 -- July 2 at Tampa Bay: Rays 7, Red Sox 6

Recap: The Rays complete another three-game sweep, winning on the strength of a six-run seventh inning. It is the 13th straight time that a home team won this matchup. The first six batters in the Rays seventh all reach, and all score. Evan Longoria's two-run double and Jason Bartlett's two-run single are the key hits.

Stat of the game: In April, May and June, the Rays won one game in which they allowed at least six runs. In July, August and September, they won seven such games.

Game 13 -- Sept. 8 at Boston: Red Sox 3, Rays 0

Recap: The Red Sox move to within a half-game of the AL East lead, handing the Rays their fourth straight loss. Jon Lester dominates, striking out nine in 7 2/3 shutout innings, improves to 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA against the Rays in 2008. Rocco Baldelli, hitting fourth for the Rays, has a particularly rough game, striking out in all four at-bats. The Red Sox sell out a MLB-record 456th straight game.

Stat of the game: Jon Lester is 4-0 in his career against the Rays. Among active pitchers, only Daniel Cabrera (6-0) and Jose Contreras (5-0) are better.

Game 14 -- Sept. 9 at Boston: Rays 5, Red Sox 4

Recap: In what may be the most improbable moment of the 2008 season, Dan Johnson, late to the ballpark after being recalled by the Rays, hits a pinch-hit game-tying home run against Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning in his first at-bat with the team. The Rays pull ahead on Dioner Navarro's RBI double and hang on to win their first game at Fenway Park in 2008.

Stat of the game: The Red Sox were 85-3 this season when leading after eight innings. The Rays, coincidentally, were an almost identical 84-2.

Game 15 -- Sept. 10 at Boston: Rays 4, Red Sox 2 (14)

Recap: The Rays leave Boston with a 2½-game lead, winning in dramatic fashion. Carlos Pena's three-run home run puts Tampa Bay ahead in the 14th inning, and the Rays survive a dicey bottom of the frame. Jason Hammel relieves Troy Percival and escapes trouble to earn his first career save.

Stat of the game: Carlos Pena beat two of his former teams, the Red Sox and the Athletics, with extra-inning home runs this season.

Game 16 -- Sept. 15 at Tampa Bay: Red Sox 13, Rays 5

Recap: Boston moves back into a virtual tie for first with an easy win. The Red Sox hit six home runs and pound Scott Kazmir for nine runs, with most of the damage coming in a seven-run fourth inning.

Stat of the game: The six home runs hit by the Red Sox were the most they hit in any game since hitting six against the Orioles on Aug. 3, 2003.

Game 17 -- Sept. 16 at Tampa Bay: Rays 2, Red Sox 1

Recap: The Rays take the AL East lead in walk-off fashion, on Dioner Navarro's ninth-inning single. Tampa Bay enters the seventh inning trailing Josh Beckett, 1-0, before Carlos Pena ties the game with a home run, the MLB-leading seventh time he tied a game with a home run this season .

Stat of the game: Dioner Navarro hit only .190 against the Red Sox in 2008, but he twice beat Boston with ninth-inning hits.

Game 18 -- Sept. 17 at Tampa Bay: Rays 10, Red Sox 3

Recap: The Rays get home runs from Willy Aybar, Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez against Tim Wakefield and finish off the Red Sox in their final regular-season meeting. Tampa Bay's bullpen shuts Boston down, pitching 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Matt Garza.

Stat of the game: The Rays won the season series from the Red Sox 10-8. The only other season they beat the Red Sox in a season series was in 1999, when they went 9-4 against Boston.