It’s pretty much come down to this, folks. The Rays are falling way behind in the pennant race, and the Red Sox have gladly widened the gap. Their only chance to get back in the race? A tussle with the team at the top of the division. The Red Sox will gladly accept this challenge.

TAMPA BAY RAYS – 78-64, 2nd place in the AL East (7.5 GB)

The Rays haven’t been anything close to hot lately. In fact, their general heat index is closer to iceberg than fire. They’ve won just three of their last ten games, and even fell to 8.5 games back before gaining a game lately. This is their final chance to try and claw back into the AL East race, otherwise they’ll be pulled into a battle royale for the Wild Card spots.

Ben ZobristPROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

1 – Desmond Jennings – CF - .246/.327/.398

2 – Ben Zobrist – 2B - .278/.360/.416

3 – Evan Longoria – 3B - .266/.346/.498

4 – Matt Joyce – LF - .245/.331/.438

  • Joyce is primarily a platoon hitter. Hits righties to the tune of a .842 OPS and a .224 ISO over his career. Has a lot of power in his bat.
  • As expected with a guy in a platoon, he’s almost hilariously awful against lefties, with a .268 wOBA to show for it.
  • He’s an okay fielder, and a decent baserunner. He’ll attempt to steal every now and then.

5 – James Loney – 1B - .306/.359/.432

6 – Wil Myers – RF - .292/.354/.471

7 – Kelly Johnson – DH - .246/.314/.432

8 – Jose Molina – C - .245/.306/.314

9 – Yunel Escobar – SS - .260/.328/.370

Who’s hot? – Last 14 days

  • Ben Zobrist: 7 runs scored, .448 OBP, 170 wRC+
  • Wil Myers: 2 HR, .512 SLG, .373 wOBA

Who’s not? – Last 14 days

  • Matt Joyce: 3 hits, zero runs scored, -20 wRC+
  • Kelly Johnson: .158 AVG, 1 RBI, .232 wOBA

 

Photo by Kelly O'Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

Photo by Kelly O’Connor of sittingstill.smugmug.com

SERIES PROBABLES

Clay Buchholz vs. David Price

Don’t call it a comeback, Clay’s been here for years. Buchholz was one of the best pitchers in the major leagues when he went down in June, and after an exasperating journey back, he’ll finally get to pitch, and we’ll finally get to see if his stats from earlier in the season will hold up. David Price hasn’t been the buzz saw he used to be, having given up two or more runs in each of his last five starts.

Ryan Dempster vs. Alex Cobb

I’m not exactly sure why Dempster gets a start but Felix Doubront gets his skipped, but whatever. I’m not the manager. Dempster is still the same old batting practice pitcher: bunch of homers, walks too many, and his fastball is way too hittable. Alex Cobb, on the other hand, is a very solid pitcher, and even if he’s fought off the LOB% & BABIP luck dragons for most of the season, he’s still been great when healthy.

Jake Peavy vs. Jeremy Hellickson

Jake Peavy, angry as always, will bring his fury down to Tampa for his first start against the Rays as a member of the Red Sox. Jeremy Hellickson has finally been hit by regression, as his BABIP and LOB% have both rebounded to more league-average numbers. It only took, like, three years.

INJURY REPORT

  • Boston
    • Jacoby Ellsbury: Out indefinitely (September 6th, compression fracture in right foot)
  • Tampa Bay
    • Jesse Crain: 60-day DL (June 30th, strained right shoulder)

IN CONCLUSION

The Red Sox win two. and the division is practically theirs. Press the advantage while they’re down.

Categories: Alex Cobb Ben Zobrist Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Desmond Jennings Felix Doubront Jacoby Ellsbury Jake Peavy James Loney Jeremy Hellickson Jose Molina Kelly Johnson Matt Joyce Ryan Dempster Tampa Bay Rays Wil Myers Yunel Escobar

Brett Cowett is a young, die-hard Red Sox fan. An undergrad at Arizona State University, Brett is studying digital journalism with a minor in Dustin Pedroia studies. Apart from laughing at Nick Swisher's escapades in the field, Brett enjoys the occasional sci-fi flick, playing Halo, and being snarky. Follow him at @BACowett for more baseball, random musings, and random baseball musings.

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