Red Sox-Rays Preview
After slumping through most of June, the Tampa Bay Rays have
regained their swagger.
Somewhat surprising, however, is their only loss in the past
week came with their best pitcher on the mound.
David Price, a tough-luck loser in his last outing, looks to
lead the surging Rays to a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday
night and a sweep over the Boston Red Sox.
A 5-12 stretch from June 10-29 dropped Tampa Bay (50-33) from
first place to third in the AL East. By winning six of seven since,
the Rays have climbed back into second and pulled within two games
of division-leading New York.
“I just think we’re getting proverbial mojo back,” Tampa Bay
manager Joe Maddon said following Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the
third-place Red Sox (49-35). “We’re playing better. We feel better
about ourselves. The confidence is coming back and we’re winning
some close games.”
Although Tampa Bay has won the first two games of this series by
one run, its lone loss in seven games was a 2-1 defeat in Minnesota
on Friday. Price (11-4, 2.42 ERA) threw a four-hitter with four
walks, but had a one-hitter going with two outs in the seventh
before the Twins put together three straight hits to score both
Price, the AL leader in victories and second in ERA, was
selected to his first All-Star Game on Sunday. Considering how well
he’s pitched, the 24-year-old could be chosen as the AL
“Only two people get to start this game each year, so that would
be a great honor,” Price told the Rays’ official website.
Although this is Tampa Bay’s fourth series against the Red Sox,
this will be Price’s first start against them this season. The
left-hander went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts against Boston
in 2009 – both at Tropicana Field. He is 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA in
seven home starts this year.
Price has struggled against Kevin Youkilis, and the Boston first
baseman hasn’t ruled out playing in the series finale after leaving
Tuesday because of pain in his right ankle.
Youkilis irritated the ankle capsule while in the field, which
caused it to lock up and give the feeling of a cramp as he stepped
to the plate in the fourth inning. X-rays were negative on
Youkilis, who is one of five candidates to fill the final roster
spot for the AL All-Star team via Internet voting.
“I’ll be good to go,” he said. “It may have been the turf and
all that, I don’t know. It was very strange.”
Youkilis, who has two homers and five RBIs in his last four
games, is 4 for 6 with two doubles lifetime against Price.
The Red Sox, losers of three in a row, counter with Tim
Wakefield (3-6, 4.96), who allowed two runs and seven hits in eight
innings in Friday’s 3-2 win over Baltimore. The knuckleballer has
been pitching much better lately, going 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA in his
last five starts to lower his ERA from 6.02.
Wakefield is 20-5 with a 3.45 ERA in 42 games – 32 starts –
lifetime against Tampa Bay, his most wins against any opponent and
best ERA against any AL team. Despite his overall success against
the Rays, the 18-year veteran is 1-3 with an 8.26 ERA in his last
six starts – all at Tropicana Field.