Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Red Sox ready to concede division?
Posted Sep 24, 2008 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Sep 24, 2008 at 02:16 PM
BALTIMORE—Was talking to a Rays person who wondered aloud if the Red Sox would go all-out in trying to take the AL East in the coming days or pull back and set up their rotation for the postseason.
Boston manager Terry Francona may have provided the answer on his weekly radio show today. Here’s what he had to say (courtesy of the Boston Globe) when asked which goal was more important:
“We really do place an importance on winning the division, but a lot of that is out of our hands. We could win out and still not catch Tampa. We do need to be realistic . . . while also understanding what our final goal is. We all witnessed going into the playoffs [in ‘05] at not 100 percent, and Chicago shooed us right out of the playoffs.”
It will be interesting to see how the Rays react to a similar choice if they clinch the division in the next couple of days. Because of their success at the Trop, homefield advantage throughout the playoffs could be very valuable to them, and Joe Maddon in particular has been consistent in setting that out as a goal. The Angels currently hold a two-game edge on the Rays for the best record in the AL with five to play.
Should Tampa Bay keep the pedal down until the end, potentially at the expense of being tapped out heading into the opening games of the Division Series?
I’m inclined to think they’ll take it if they can get it, but they’ll definitely take care of their frontline starting pitchers along the way. Maddon indicated last night that James Shields might only get a tuneup of a few innings, if that, Sunday in Detroit, and it’ll be interesting to see what they let Matt Garza do on Saturday after skipping his last start to help him rest up.