Tampa Bay Rays (75-81) at Boston Red Sox (68-88)
Tuesday, September 23 - 7:10 PM EST
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
When the 2014 schedule was released, a late-September series between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays looked like a potential battle for supremacy in the American League East. Instead, the two teams at the bottom of the division will be squaring off when the Red Sox host the Rays on Tuesday. Boston, the defending World Series champion, is 68-88 and sits seven games behind fourth-place Tampa Bay as the two play out the string.
The Red Sox took two of three from first-place Baltimore over the weekend to finish up a 5-5 road trip and are kicking off the final homestand of the season. The Rays are finishing up with their final six on the road after dropping three of four to end their home slate. Tampa Bay, which lost to the Red Sox in the AL Division Series last fall, saw its pitching staff surrendered double-digit runs for the first time since June 5 in a 10-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), NESN (Boston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Alex Cobb (9-8, 2.82 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (8-9, 5.29)
Cobb is winless in his last five starts despite allowing a total of seven earned runs in that span. The Massachusetts native yielded more than two earned runs for the first time since July 4 on Wednesday, when the New York Yankees reached him for three runs on four hits in six innings. Cobb took the loss against Boston on Aug. 31, yielding one earned run on seven hits in 6 1/3 frames.
Buchholz had a string of three straight wins and four straight quality starts come to an end at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, when he was ripped for five runs – four earned – on six hits and a walk in four innings. The former All-Star completed at least six innings in each of his previous seven starts. Buchholz’s best outing in that stretch came at Tampa Bay on Aug. 31, when he struck out six in a three-hit shutout.
1. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts was pulled from Sunday’s game with a stiff neck and is day-to-day.
2. Tampa Bay utilityman Sean Rodriguez is 2-for-26 in his last 13 games.
3. Boston OF Rusney Castillo recorded his first career stolen base Sunday and has a hit in each of his first four starts.
PREDICTION: Rays 4, Red Sox 2