TAMPA BAY RAYS (59-42)
at BOSTON RED SOX (61-41)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Line: Tampa Bay -120, Boston +110, Total: 8.5
Looking to build on their AL East lead, the Red Sox will play the third installment of a four-game set against the second-place Rays on Wednesday. The teams split the first two games.
David Price (4-5, 4.03 ERA) takes the mound for Tampa Bay in this battle of southpaws. The Rays have won three of Price's four starts since coming off the DL, during which he has gone a remarkable 32 innings and yielded just seven runs (1.97 ERA). Tuesday nightís 6-2 loss to the Red Sox snapped a six-game winning streak for the Rays, who are now 16-3 in July. Going up against Price will be lefty Felix Doubront (7-3, 3.76 ERA), who has four consecutive quality starts and hasnít given up more than three earned runs in any of his past 12 outings. Overall, Boston has lost four of its past seven after beginning July with an 8-3 mark. These two teams are 25-25 against each other over the past three years, though the Red Sox have dominated this seasonís competition, winning 10-of-14 games. That includes a 6-2 record in Fenway Park, but the Rays still have a 14-12 edge in this series in Boston over the past three years.
Price (1.22 WHIP) has 23 strikeouts in his past four starts and 72 whiffs in 87 innings this year. Heís going up against a Red Sox squad that is an impressive 21-12 against lefty starters this season (.636, 2nd in majors). Boston also hits very well at home, evidenced by 5.1 runs per game, a .288 BA and .351 OBP. The Red Sox lead the majors in runs (518) and OBP (.347), while ranking second in slugging (.440) and third in BA (.275). When Price last faced the Red Sox on May 15, he didnít make it out of the third inning, giving up four earned runs on five hits in 2.1 innings. Overall, he has an 8-5 record (team 10-7), 3.27 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 17 career starts against Boston, which includes three straight quality starts at Fenway Park (1.64 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Even if Price doesnít need it with his endurance, the Tampa Bay bullpen has been solid this season, posting a 3.58 ERA, 1.18 WHIP (3rd in MLB) and 315 K's in 294 innings. That WHIP jumps to 1.31 on the road, though they still have a 3.85 ERA away from home. The one guy who has owned Price is 2B Dustin Pedroia, fresh off a $100 million extension. Pedroia sports a .343 BA and .982 OPS in 35 at-bats against Price.
Doubront (1.39 WHIP) had some early struggles this season, but has figured it out since with a 3-0 record, 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his past three starts. The Sox are 11-6 in his 17 starts this season, and he has been much better at home in 2013 with a 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 45 K's in 46 innings at Fenway, helping his team achieve a 5-2 mark in these seven home starts. Boston is a dominant 34-18 at home this season (.654, 3rd-best in MLB), though itíll be tough to beat a red-hot Rays team that leads the majors with a 20-11 record (.645) versus lefty starters. Doubront was dominant against Tampa Bay in May, giving up three hits over eight shutout innings where he fanned six and walked nobody. The Red Sox are 5-1 in Doubrontís six career starts against the Rays, while he has posted a 2-1 record, 3.06 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Doubrontís success is important with a bullpen behind him that has a 4.67 ERA and 1.45 WHIP at home, blowing eight saves in 18 chances at Fenway. Overall, Red Sox relievers are 18-13 with a 3.93 ERA, 1.37 WHIP (25th in majors) and 316 K's in 299.2 IP.