Experience pays off for Sox in Game 1 win over Rays

Boston Red SoxAs play-by-play announcer Chip Caray said during the final inning of Boston’s 2-0 win over Tampa in Game 1 of the ALCS Friday night, “Experience trumped exuberance tonight.” (I can’t believe I’m quoting Chip Caray, but the comment was spot on.)

For six innings, Boston ace Daisuke Matsuzaka was un-hittable. Literally.

The Rays didn’t record their first hit until Carl Crawford singled to lead off the top of the seventh. But once Crawford reached, Cliff Floyd followed with a single of his own, moving Crawford to third and all of a sudden Tampa was in business despite trailing 1-0 since the top of the fifth.

This is the situation where good teams – World Series contender or other – score that runner from third with less than two outs. But the Rays failed to do so as Dice-K got Dioner Navarro to fly out to left, then struck out Gabe Gross before finishing off Jason Bartlett with a fielder’s choice to the shortstop.

Inning over.

Again the Rays struck in the bottom of the eighth after the first two batters reached safely to start the inning. Yet once again they came away with nothing as the Boston bullpen got Carlos Pena to fly out to right and Evan Longoria to ground into a double play.

In nine innings Friday night, the Sox showed what it takes to be a champion. They’ve still got a long way to go in their chase to defend their title, especially with how good Tampa is. But great teams separate themselves in these types of games and the performances by Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia and the BoSox bullpen were outstanding.

That said, Rays’ starter James Shields was phenomenal and on a normal night when the Rays’ bats are on, he walks away from such a masterful performance with a victory. And Tampa will learn a lot from a game like this and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond in Game 2 on Saturday night.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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