Rays ride extended road trip against well-rested Sox
BOSTON -- Alex Cobb couldn't even remember on Thursday afternoon where the Rays' long, wild road trip started. Was it really New York? Was it only 10 days ago?
When he woke up after winning Wednesday night's American League Wild Card Game and arriving in Boston around 5 a.m. ET, Cobb caught himself wondering which city he was in. The giveaway: the can of Budweiser sitting on his nightstand.
"That said 'Indians' on it, from the postgame celebration. It started sinking in, and I just had a smile on my face," Cobb said. "Waking up in Boston, it's a great feeling."
The Rays arrived at Fenway Park for an off-day workout -- and a much-needed chance to catch their breath -- after winning three games in three different cities over the last four days, facing elimination each time. The trip has been so lengthy, and so emotional, that it was hard for them to believe it had only been 10 days since they set out for New York. Remember that series, when Mariano Rivera pitched at Yankee Stadium for the final time in his storied career?
"It feels like it was three weeks ago," second baseman Ben Zobrist said. "And it was only a week and a half ago."
"It's been not only a long road. It's been taxing mentally and physically. We're up for it," Cobb said. "It's that time of year where everything in the tank needs to be left out on the field. The day off [Thursday], you kind of get a second to breathe. The off-day in Cleveland didn't really feel like one. … But right now, I feel like I'm finally able to take a step back and breathe."
There has been some debate regarding which club is better prepared for the upcoming AL Division Series. Is it the Rays, battle-tested and riding an emotional high? Or is it the Red Sox, well-rested and eager to play?
Though manager Joe Maddon is eternally optimistic and obviously biased toward his club, he's hopeful that what they've been through the past week and a half will help them come on afternoon.
"I want to believe it's going to create some kind of different form of momentum going into this series, because we've been playing," Maddon said. "We've been playing under duress, and we're not tired. Don't be deceived: we're not tired. I might look bad right now, but I'm not that tired. I'll be fine by tomorrow, and I think our players will feel the same way."