Come Tuesday, the 19-18 Tampa Bay Rays will welcome the 22-16 Boston Red Sox into the Trop, for the first game of a three game set against their AL East rivals. The surging Rays look to make up some ground in the East against a struggling Red Sox team who have gone 2-8 over a 10 game span. If Tampa Bay can take the series, they’ll waltz into Baltimore at least three games over .500, and tied with the Red Sox for third place. This promises to be a big series.
Rays Hitters Vs. the Red Sox Series Starters
John Lackey: Per Rotowire, “Lackey took the loss Thursday, giving up five runs (one earned) and six hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings.” God bless John Lackey. You’ve almost go to feel sorry for the Red Sox RHP. He is 12-6 against the Rays overall, but 3-5 with a 7.27 ERA over the last eight meetings. We all know the old adage well, Lackey loses 5 MPH of velocity every time he pitches with his mouth open. The current Rays have posted a .277 BA/.358 OBP/.462 SLG/.820 OPS slash line against the Red Sox gape-mouthed starter, with five homers and nine doubles in 150 combined at-bats. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (5-11, 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Matt Joyce (4-13, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (7-25, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB), Sean Rodriguez (2-5), Luke Scott (6-16, 3 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (8-20, 2 RBI, 3 2B, 5 BB).
Jon Lester: Per Rotowire, “Lester was brilliant Friday night, firing a one-hitter in a 5-0 win over Toronto. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.” The dangerous Jon Lester posted a 7 IP/5 H/1 R/1 ER/1 BB/5 K slash line against the Rays back in April; but that was against a less productive Rays team, and Lester has cooled off somewhat following a torrid start to the season. Lester has given up 11 cumulative runs in three of his last four starts, not that that makes him any less potent. His splits against the Rays speak for themselves, as does Tampa Bay’s .214 BA/.299 OBP/.301 SLG/.600 OPS slash line against Lester. Key Match-ups: Yunel Escobar (8-26, 2 RBI, 3 BB), Matt Joyce (2-5, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Jose Molina (6-18, 2 BB).
Felix Doubront: Per Rotowire, “Doubront’s next start will come next Thursday against Tampa Bay, the Providence Journal reports. He’ll be working on seven days rest.” Doubront is 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA against the Rays over the last three years, with Tampa Bay posting a combined .301 BA/.402 OBP/.452 SLG/.854 OPS slash line in 73 at-bats. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (4-10, BB), Desmond Jennings (2-5, 2B, 2 BB), Kelly Johnson (3-11, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Matt Joyce (1-2, BB), James Loney (1-3, 2 RBI), Evan Longoria (2-6, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB), Sean Rodriguez (3-9, 3B, BB), Luke Scott (2-6, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Ben Zobrist (3-12, 2 RBI, BB).
- The Rays have gone 7-3 in their last ten games, while the Red Sox have cooled off significantly, going 2-8 in the same span.
- The Rays relievers have posted a 1.15 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 15-2/3 innings during the current winning streak, including three shutout innings against San Diego on Sunday. In addition, Cesar Ramos has quietly become one of the more potent relievers on the staff, going nine consecutive innings without giving up a run or an earned run.
- Tampa Bay is averaging 6.4 runs in their last 14 games, while the Red Sox are averaging just under four runs per game in the same span.
- The Red Sox have lost 8 of 10 after a 12-4 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, distancing themselves from a 20-8 start.
- Tampa Bay is now eight in total runs with 175, a mere six runs behind the Red Sox who started the season on a tear.
- Per Tommy Rancel of the Process Report, “After a horrific start to the week, the Rays are riding a five-game win streak as the Red Sox come to town. Evan Longoria (.333/.403/.610) and James Loney (.376/.429/.560) are leading the way while the bullpen closed the week with 13 2/3 scoreless innings.”
- The Red Sox are hitting .163 with runners in scoring position the past 10 games.
- Boston won the first three meetings this year at Fenway Park in an April. They lead overall 153-109, including 67-63 at Tropicana Field.
- It’s the Sox turn to have a shaky bullpen. Boston lost closer Joel Hanrahan to season-ending surgery on his right arm,while Andrew Bailey (strained right biceps) still on the disabled list.
- Evan Longoria has been named the AL Player of the Week after posting a .464 BA with five doubles, three home runs, 11 RBI, eight runs scored and four walks over the last seven days.
- Per MLB Trade Rumors, “The Rays have signed Cory Wade to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Durham.” MLB Trade Rumors also noted that Wade, who turns 30 at the end of the month, spent the 2011-12 seasons pitching out of the Yankees’ bullpen. He posted a 4.23 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in that time, but the two seasons were wildly different. In 39 2/3 innings for the Bombers in 2011, Wade posted a pristine 2.04 ERA. That number rose by more than four runs in 2012 as he finished with a 6.46 ERA in an even 39 innings. Wade was previously with the Rays organization in 2011.