Tampa Bay Rays will face Boston Red Sox in ALDS

The MLB regular season is over and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched the AL East crown. Next is the postseason, and the St. Pete-based team now knows who they will face in the American League Division Series: their division rivals, the Red Sox.

Boston sent the New York Yankees packing Tuesday night during the wild-card game.

Game 1 of the ALDS will be Thursday night under the Trop. It starts at 8 p.m.

Tampa Bay left-hander Shane McClanahan will start Game of 1 of the Rays’ AL Division Series on Thursday night.

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Rays manager Kevin Cash made the announcement before a team workout on Tuesday.

Rookie Shane Baz will take the mound for Game 2 on Friday night. Depending on bullpen use in the opening two games, Cash said Drew Rasmussen is the "highly likely" Game 3 starter.

McClanahan, who last year became the first pitcher to make his major league debut in the postseason, went 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 25 starts this season.

Baz, a member of the silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic team, was 2-0 with 2.03 ERA in three starts after being called up from Triple-A Durham last month.

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Rasmussen, acquired from Milwaukee in May, went 4-0 and had a 2.44 ERA in 20 games, including 10 starts for Tampa Bay.

The Rays fought furiously in 2020 for their first division title in over a decade, assuring themselves home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

In the end, it meant little more than last at-bats and a more comfortable clubhouse in San Diego.

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The reigning AL champions are back as the league’s top seed, anticipating a few more travel miles and a lot more adrenaline. Plus, this time the fan noise will be real.

"It’s going to be a lot different from last year," said Kevin Kiermaier, a defensive whiz in the outfield. "And obviously for the better."

Baseball’s postseason is returning to its pre-pandemic format a year after COVID-19 confined most of last October’s action to empty stadiums in neutral sites. It’s a welcome change for players who pushed through last year’s playoffs supplying their own energy on a stage normally powered by the buzz created by live audiences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report