A rough patch like this was inevitable. The Red Sox were not going to win two out of their three games like they did in April the entire season. that would result in a 108-64 record, which is unrealistic, especially in the American League East.
That being said, this team has allowed their AL East opponents to already gain the ground in just the first two weeks of May. What was once looking down and trying to pick apart the opponents below them, the are now trying to figure out opponents above them.
The good news is that the Tampa Bay Rays are have not fully put it together just yet. By the same token, they are pretty close. They popped over a .500 record for the first time this weekend, and now they have their eyes set on, guess who, the Red Sox, as they try to climb further out of the cellar.
The Red Sox had a target on their backs after a stellar April, but now the have to shake it off against the Rays. If they don’t, the Rays could grab their shirts and pull them down even further in the AL East.
Series: @ Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL)
Probable Starters (Career vs. Opponent):
April 14, 7:10 EDT
RHP John Lackey (12-6, 4.09 ERA) vs. LHP Matt Moore (0-2, 5.87 ERA)
April 15, 7:10 EDT
LHP Jon Lester (10-8, 4.14 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (8-4, 2.99 ERA)
April 16, 7:10 EDT
RHP Clay Buchholz (6-5, 2.53 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (2-2, 3.18 ERA)
Well, if the Red Sox want a chance to change their numbers against left-handed pitching, this is the series to do it. Matt Moore has a .250 opponent batting average against the Red Sox, while David Price’s is .233. The Red Sox own a .233 average as a team against southpaws, but against lefty starters they are hitting .259. Also look for Jonny Gomes to get a few more at bats in this series, especially with Shane Victorino day-to-day after colliding into the right field wall during Sunday’s game against Toronto.
John Lackey will be worth watching, especially since he pitched well against Minnesota before falling apart in the sixth inning last Thursday. John Farrell must have faith in him and his health, as he elected to skip the Félix Doubront/Allen Webster spot in the rotation. Using just the eye test, John Lackey has looked a lot better this year than he did in his first two seasons in Boston, so hopefully he can take his 2.82 ERA with him to south Florida in his suitcase.
Dustin Pedroia brings with him five consecutive multi-hit games, and he has six multi-hit games in his last seven. That sounds great, doesn’t it? But check this: only two of the eleven hits over the five game span have gone for extra bases, and he only has two RBI as well. Hits are great, but if they do not lead to anything, what does that say? I would say that the lineup needs to get hits too, not just Pedroia
Enjoy the series! And thanks for reading!
(Photo Courtesy of sportofboston.com)