Red Sox-Rays Preview
To turn the tables on the Tampa Bay Rays and complete the first
sweep of the majors’ best team in 2010, the Boston Red Sox may have
to finally find a way to solve Matt Garza.
The right-hander has dominated Boston lately, but the Red Sox
will be seeking a season-best fifth straight victory to complete an
impressive road trip Wednesday night.
The Rays (32-14) outscored Boston 24-9 while winning four in a
row at Fenway Park from April 16-19, but the roles have been
squarely reversed this week.
The Red Sox (26-21) cruised to a 6-1 win Monday, then limited
Tampa Bay to one hit in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory. They’ve won seven of
eight overall despite navigating a difficult stretch of their
schedule against the Yankees and first-place teams Minnesota,
Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
“We kept saying we’d get on a roll, we’d start playing better
baseball,” left-hander Jon Lester said. “This is a good team and I
don’t think people really believed it, but we are a good team and
we’re going to keep grinding it out.”
David Ortiz was among the Boston players off to a slow start,
but he had a two-run double Tuesday and is batting .400 with five
homers and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games.
Ortiz, however, is 3 for 22 (.136) with nine strikeouts against
Garza, who ranks second in the AL in ERA. The Red Sox aren’t
surprised – the right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.15 ERA in his last 11
starts against Boston, including two wins during the 2008 AL
Garza (5-2, 2.37 ERA) has never lost to the Red Sox at home, and
his dominance continued in Boston on April 18, when he gave up four
hits in eight scoreless innings of a 7-1 win. He also was sharp
Friday at Houston, pitching an eight-inning complete game in Tampa
Bay’s 2-1 loss.
That same night, Boston’s John Lackey (4-3, 5.07) continued to
struggle, walking a season-high five and allowing four runs in five
innings of a 5-1 loss at Philadelphia.
“I didn’t pitch my best by any means,” said Lackey, who now
looks to avoid a third straight loss after allowing 15 runs and 12
walks in 18 innings over his last three starts.
The Rays clobbered him for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of their
8-2 win at Boston on April 19. Lackey went 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA in
his first 11 career starts against the Rays, but he’s 0-2 with a
17.28 ERA the last two times he’s faced them.
His shaky outing Friday was the only time in Boston’s last seven
games that the club’s starter allowed more than two runs. The Red
Sox rotation, which had a 5.18 ERA through last Tuesday, has
allowed one run over 28 innings during the team’s four-game winning
The club’s bullpen, meanwhile, has allowed no hits and one walk
in six innings in this series.
Willy Aybar’s fourth-inning single off Lester was the Rays’ only
hit Tuesday, and one more loss would match Tampa Bay’s longest
losing streak of the season – a three-game skid from May 8-10.
“Obviously we’re not hitting the ball as well as we can right
now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But I’m really not in any way
The road team has won each of these teams’ first six meetings
this year, though Boston has not swept a series in St. Petersburg
since a four-game set from Sept. 9-12, 2002.
Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to miss a second
straight game with a sore left side.