Boston vs. Tampa Bay, 2 p.m. Friday (TBS)
About the Red Sox: After finishing last in the AL East in 2012 with a 69-93 record, Boston bounced back big to finish first at 97-65. The Red Sox led the league in runs scored, on-base percentage and slugging. They were sixth with a 3.79 ERA. Ex-White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy is slated to start Game 4 (if necessary) behind Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. In 10 starts after being traded July 30, Peavy was 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA. The Red Sox were 12-7 vs. the Rays in the regular season.
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About the Rays: Tampa Bay has gotten hot at the right time. The Rays won the AL tiebreaker game at Texas and they beat the Indians at Cleveland Wednesday night in the wild-card game. The Rays ranked sixth with a 3.74 ERA during the regular season. Matt Moore opposes Lester in Game 1. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 2 postseason games (1 start). Tampa Bay was second in the majors with only 59 errors in 163 games.
Ex-Chicago factor: The Rays have Chris Archer (Cubs), David DeJesus (Cubs), Sam Fuld (Cubs), Jesse Crain (White Sox), Hak-Ju Lee (Cubs) and senior advisor Don Zimmer (Cubs). The Red Sox have Ryan Dempster (Cubs), Jake Peavy (White Sox), Matt Thornton (White Sox) and pitching coach Juan Nieves (White Sox).
Scot Gregor's pick: Red Sox in 5.
Detroit vs. Oakland, 8:30 p.m. Friday (TBS)
About the A's: Still a relatively unknown team, the A's won their second straight AL West title (96-66). This is a rematch of last year's ALDS, which the Tigers won in 5 games. Oakland was 4-3 vs. Detroit in the regular season. Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65 ERA) is still going strong, and he matches up against Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer in Game 1. The A's are the epitome of balance, finishing second in the AL with a 3.56 ERA and third with 767 runs scored.
About the Tigers: First in the Central for the third straight season, Detroit is loaded with big-name stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Scherzer, Price Fielder, Anibal Sanchez, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander. The Tigers were second with 796 runs scored and third with a 3.61 ERA. A hip flexor and abdomen strain limited Cabrera to 1 home run and 7 RBI in September. Verlander is going to pitch Game 2, followed by Sanchez.
Ex-Chicago factor: The Tigers have Darin Downs (Cubs) and bench coach Gene Lamont (White Sox). The A's have Bartolo Colon (White Sox) and Chris Young (White Sox).
Scot Gregor's pick: Tigers in 4.