ST. PETERSBURG — By the time it was over, the stress of the night seemed like it never happened for the Red Sox. Instead, they mobbed each other in salute of their latest accomplishment — a trip to the American League Championship Series.
In a gritty performance all the way around, the Red Sox dispatched the pesky Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, in a tense Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
“That’s what our team is built on,” said Dustin Pedroia. “We’re going to find a way to beat you a thousand different ways. Tonight it was a wild pitch and an infield hit and [Shane Victorino] is flying down the line.”
With nine outs to go, Boston was down 1-0 and faced the very real possibility of having to face Tampa Bay ace David Price in a winner-take-all Game 5 showdown Thursday at Fenway Park.
Instead, manager John Farrell’s team can rest up in advance of Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday at Fenway Park. The opponent will either be the Tigers or the Athletics, who will play Game 5 of their ALDS on Thursday in Oakland.
This is the first trip to the ALCS for Boston since 2008. With another four wins, the Red Sox can get back to the World Series for the first time since ’07. It has been a surreal ride for a team that won 69 games a year ago, only to bounce back with 97 in the regular season, and then a 3-1 series victory against a solid Rays team.