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Boston, Tampa are familiar foes; Rays beat Red Sox in 2008 ALCS.

Byline: Bill Ballou

BOSTON -- The Red Sox will be playing a team in the Division Series with which they share some postseason history.

Boston and Tampa Bay have one previous playoff meeting, the 2008 ALCS. The Rays won it, 4 games to 3.

Manager John Farrell watched Wednesday night's wild-card game between the Rays and Indians with mostly a fan's interest. Boston's advance scouts followed both teams closely in the season's closing weeks, and there isn't much more Farrell can glean from a TV screen.

The Red Sox have seen the Rays in person 19 times and played six games against Cleveland, none since May 26.

"They'll pitch well,'' Farrell said of the Rays. "The games are likely to be low-scoring. Containing their left-handed hitters is critical.''

Castiglione up for Frick Award

Current Red Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione and former Sox TV analyst Ken Harrelson are among the 10 finalists for the 2014 Ford Frick Award, which recognizes excellence in baseball broadcasting. Castiglione has been a major league broadcaster for 33 years, the last 30 in Boston. Harrelson works for the White Sox these days, but was part of the Red Sox telecasting crew from 1975 to 1981.

Victorino exceeds expectations

Farrell was effusive in his praise of right fielder Shane Victorino, who was as good or better than the Red Sox expected when they signed him during the offseason.

"He was probably the best right fielder in baseball this year,'' Farrell said. "At least, that's my opinion.'' The manager added that Victorino's intangible qualities were important as well, like the grit he added to the lineup and the high tolerance for pain that allowed him to play through some injuries.

"He can play the small game,'' Farrell added, "and he keeps things lively in the clubhouse.''

Regarding those injuries -- "He's feeling better,'' the manager said.

Pedroia toughing it out

While Dustin Pedroia finished with a .301 average, breaking the magic barrier for the fourth time in his career, he was at .318 when the season hit the halfway point. Pedroia batted .285 for the final 81 games.

He hurt his left thumb on Opening Day and never said it bothered him, but his power numbers say something different, and Pedroia seemed to go to right field more this season than in the past.

If Pedroia has had injury issues, he joins "a pretty long list of guys in our clubhouse,'' Farrell said. The second baseman has never said he has been injured, and has also played in the most games of his career. If fatigue has been an issue, it's something "He would deny completely,'' the manager added.

On the negative side, Pedroia's nine home runs represent a skid from 21 to 15 to nine in a three-year span. His 84 RBIs were the second-most of his career, his 42 doubles were his most since 2009.

Aside from the batting average, Pedroia had fairly comparable stats in the first and second halves. He had 47 RBIs, 21 doubles, no triples and 5 home runs in the first half. In the second half, it was 37 RBIs, 21 doubles, 2 triples and 4 homers.

Diamond Dust

Since the beginning of divisional play in 1969, Farrell is the fourth manager to lead the Red Sox into postseason play in his first year at the helm. Terry Francona also did it in 2004, Kevin Kennedy in 1995 and Joe Morgan in a half-season in 1988. ... There are no official records concerning intrasquad games and scrimmages, but Wednesday's little baseball clambake at Fenway would seem to be the first such pre-playoff encounter by the Red Sox since they played the Yankees in East Douglas in late September 1946.

Contact Bill Ballou at
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ballou, Bill
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Oct 3, 2013
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