Ignore the recent three-game slide or the two consecutive series losses, the Tampa Bay Rays are no longer a silly little joke in Vince Naimoli's toybox, they're a Real Live Baseball Team with Real Live Playoff Aspirations. They're set for a three-game tussle at Fenway Park that starts tonight that will help decide which team wins the division and which team will (probably) face the Angels as the AL Wild Card representative. Just one and a half games separate the two teams.
The two teams have split their twelve head-to-head matchups in aught-eight with each team winning their six home contests. Don't expect the Sox to roll just because these games are in Fenway, however. Expect them to roll because Red Sox Nation transcends continents and cultures.
Your pitching matchups:
Monday: RHP Edwin Jackson vs LHP Jon Lester
Tuesday: LHP Scott Kazmir vs RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka
Wednesday: RHP Andy Sonnanstine vs RHP Josh Beckett (ESPN)
Lester faced the Rays twice this year, giving up 2 runs in 12.1 innings for two of his thirteen wins, while Jackson's three starts against the Sox have resulted in an 0-2 record with a 5.82 ERA.
Tonight's game would have probably been on ESPN, had that pesky football season not started with all that Monday Night Football nonsense. Still, I'm sure New England-area sports fans will be watching NESN tonight since football has nothing more to offer them. Thanks for nothing, football!