The Boston Red Sox are on to the American League Division Series after taking down the New York Yankees in Tuesday night's Wild Card game.
They'll meet up with another tough AL East opponent in the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays, who topped Boston 11-8 in the season series. Tampa, last year's American League pennant winner, finished the 2021 campaign 100-62.
Needless to say, the Red Sox will have their work cut out for them when they head to Tropicana Field on Thursday. But what should we expect in the five-game series? Does Boston have a real chance to pull off the upset and advance to the ALCS?
Our partners at Strat-O-Matic simulated the series and produced some interesting results.
Here's a game-by-game breakdown.
The Red Sox weren't able to carry the momentum from their Wild Card win into Thursday night's showdown. Eduardo Rodriguez got Boston to the seventh inning tied 1-1, but that's when the Rays broke the game wide open with seven runs. Yandy Diaz got the rally started with a solo home run, and veteran slugger Nelson Cruz topped it all off with a grand slam to propel Tampa Bay to victory.
Rays rookie southpaw Shane McLanahan earned the win. Kyle Schwarber notched the lone home run for Boston.
Result: Rays 8, Red Sox 2
Chris Sale got the start for Friday's Game 2, and the Rays wasted no time jumping all over the Red Sox ace. Sale allowed two runs in the first inning and another in the third, spoiling the left-hander's first postseason outing since he closed out the 2018 World Series.
Boston trailed 3-2 when shortstop Xander Bogaerts tied it in the eighth with a solo shot. The game went into extras and it was rookie slugger Bobby Dalbec playing the hero with a one-out, two-run single to win it in the 11th.
The Red Sox bullpen stepped up big-time in the victory, allowing only three hits in 8 2/3 scoreless frames. On the Rays' side, Cruz remained a major problem for Boston with his third homer of the series.
Result: Red Sox 5, Rays 3
Fresh off a gem vs. the Yankees in the Wild Card game, Nathan Eovaldi provided an encore performance in Game 3 vs. Tampa Bay. The right-hander tossed six innings of five-hit, shutout ball while striking out eight.
The two Red Sox runs came from a Kiké Hernandez fielder's choice in the third inning and a Rafael Devers RBI double in the eighth. Garrett Whitlock closed it out in the ninth to earn the save for Boston.
Result: Red Sox 2, Rays 0
The Red Sox avoided a trip back to Tampa Bay with a nail-biter of a victory in Game 4. The Red Sox led 4-1 heading into the fourth inning thanks in part to a two-run homer from Xander Bogaerts, but the Rays answered with three runs of their own to knot the score at 4-4. A Mike Zunino two-run triple and a Yandy Diaz sacrifice fly did the damage.
The tie-breaking run came in the sixth inning, courtesy of an Alex Verdugo fielder's choice. The MVP of the series clincher -- and the series as a whole -- proved to be Boston's bullpen as it capped it off by allowing no runs and only two hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Whitlock came through in the clutch once again with the save.
Result: Red Sox 5, Rays 4