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Boston Red Sox (41-34) at Tampa Bay Rays (31-43)
Monday, June 27 - 7:10 PM EST
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
The Tampa Bay Rays were hanging around the edge of the .500 mark and threatening to get back into the race in the American League East two weeks ago, but have since fallen off a cliff. The Rays will try to snap an 11-game slide when they host the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series on Monday.
Tampa Bay beat Seattle in 13 innings to improve to 31-32 on June 15 but were outscored 72-29 over the next 11 contests, including 31 runs allowed in four games at Baltimore over the weekend. "Losing is tough," Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters. "There's no doubt about it. You find out a little bit about each other. You find out about your club. Nobody's character is going away. We're staying positive. I like the way the guys keep going out there and grinding it out. We're playing hard.” The Red Sox were sitting atop the AL East a month ago but are 9-14 in June after dropping series against the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers. The Rangers had no problem knocking around Boston’s best starting pitchers – David Price and Steven Wright – and the Red Sox are searching for answers in the rotation.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 6.41 ERA) vs. Rays LH Blake Snell (0-2, 2.40)
Boston was counting on Rodriguez to be one of its strongest starting pitchers, but the Venezuela native is having a hard time finding a groove after missing the first two months with a knee injury. The 23-year-old recorded a season-high seven strikeouts against Chicago on Wednesday and managed to finish six innings for the first time since his season debut but could not find his way into the win column. Rodriguez faced Tampa Bay twice in his 2015 rookie campaign and allowed a total of six runs on 12 hits and six walks in 11 innings.
Snell provided the Rays one of the few bright spots in the last 11 games when he held Cleveland to three runs – two earned – on seven hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday. The top prospect is making his fourth career start on Monday and has allowed a total of four earned runs over 15 innings. Snell is seeing Boston for the first time and lost his only previous home start while surrendering five runs – one earned – and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings against Seattle on June 16.
1. The Rays took two of three from the Red Sox at Fenway Park from April 19-21 in the first meeting between the division rivals.
2. Tampa Bay SS Brad Miller went 6-for-10 with three runs scored in the last two contests.
3. Boston RF Mookie Betts is 9-for-25 in his last five games.
PREDICTION: Rays 6, Red Sox 4