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Red Sox advance to ALCS after beating Rays to win ALDS: Quick hits

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Jacoby Ellsbury's run in the seventh inning gave the Red Sox the lead for good.
Jacoby Ellsbury's run in the seventh inning gave the Red Sox the lead for good. (USATSI)

The Boston Red Sox are going back to the American League Championship Series, riding an impressive, 3-1, Game 4 victory in Tampa on Tuesday. That also gives the Red Sox a 3-1 win in the best-of-5 series, and sends the Rays home for the offseason.

Hero: Really, no one stood out as a glaring hero here. We could talk about the entire pitching staff, only giving up one run with such small margin for error, but no one really starred -- sorry, Jake Peavy, you have to get through at least six innings in a start to be considered for hero status. Craig Breslow's four straigt strikeouts were noteworthy. Jacoby Ellsbury had a huge single, stolen base and run scored. John Farrell pulled all the correct strings with his pitching staff. Pick one. I don't really think there was one above and beyond. This was a total team effort.

Goat: Joel Peralta. Rays manager Joe Maddon's "Johnny Wholestaff" approach was actually working like a charm until the top of the seventh. Then Peralta came in and walked Xander Bogaerts before giving up a single to Jacoby Ellsbury. On his first pitch to Shand Victorino, he uncorked a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score and Ellsbury -- who broke on the pitch -- to get all the way third base. Ellsbury would then score on an infield hit from Victorino and just like that, the Red Sox had the lead.

Turning point: The wild pitch. It came with two outs and the Rays leading 1-0. Peralta just needed to get one out and the Rays were still clinging to a 1-0 lead. Instead, it was tied, the Rays were looking at a nearly depleted bullpen and speedy Ellsbury was now only 90 feet away from giving the Red Sox the lead.

It was over when: After seeing Jose Lobaton launch an unlikely walkoff homer Monday night, we know better than to say a close game was over until the final out was recorded. Koji Uehara got it done with the four-out save.

Next: The Red Sox advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2008, when they lost in seven games to the Rays. They await the winner of Thursday's Game 5 between the Tigers and A's, but we already know the Red Sox have home-field advantage. So they'll await Game 1 in Fenway Park while sitting at home. The start of that series is set for this coming Saturday, Oct. 12. There's no time yet, since we don't know all the teams -- and NLCS Game 2 is also Saturday. Expect either the 5 p.m. ET range or 8 p.m. ET range.

 
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