The Boston Red Sox (20-26) pack their bags and head south to take on the Tampa Bay Rays (20-28) at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox are coming off a brutal home stand where they were swept by the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park and have now lost seven straight games. It's the team's longest losing streak since the disastrous 2012 season, which ended with an eight game losing streak.
The Rays have been having some struggles of their own in a disappointing season that currently has them in the basement of the AL East. That's a shocking development at this point in the season for a team many experts predicted would win the division and even contend for a title this season. A pitching rotation ravaged by injuries has been the main culprit. Matt Moore is out for the season, Jeremy Hellickson has yet to take the mound and Alex Cobb was just activated this week off the disabled list after being sidelined for over a month.
Each of these floundering teams will be looking to right the ship by taking advantage of their division rival's woes. The Red Sox will need to win the series to avoid falling to the bottom of the division. More importantly, they need to avoid falling further behind the rest of the pack near the top of the division.
- John Lackey (5-3, 4.01 ERA) takes the mound for the Red Sox. He currently leads the team in Wins and is tied in Quality Starts.
- The Rays are hitting only .207 and have scored only two runs in 29 at bats against Lackey this season.
- Red Sox pitching has so far stymied Rays star Evan Longoria this season. The All-Star third baseman has only 1 hit in 11 at bats against Boston this year and is 0-3 against Lackey. Over the previous three seasons, Longoria is hitting only .237 against Boston – his lowest average against any AL East opponent.
- Chris Archer (3-2, 4.59 ERA) will get the start for the Rays. He's started 9 games this season, only three of which have been Quality Starts.
- Archer's last start against Boston was not one of those Quality Starts. He gave up 5 runs in 4.2 innings, while issuing a season high 5 walks.
- Shane Victorino is batting .500/.533/.750 in 12 at bats against Rays pitching this year. Half of his six hits have been doubles.
- Elite defense has been a staple of this Tampa Bay team for the past several years, but the typically sure handed Rays have committed 25 errors this season – tied for 4th most in the majors.
- The Rays -23 run differential is the worst in the division and third worst in the AL (behind only Texas and Houston). The Red Sox aren't much better, at -22.
- Boston enters the game 5 games back of division leading Toronto and only 1 game ahead of the Rays for last place in the AL East.