Red Sox Stick With Winning Formula to Squash Tampa Bay’s Playoff Hopes

Red Sox Stick With Winning Formula to Squash Tampa Bay's Playoff HopesAfter struggling mightily all month, the Red Sox finally seem to have found something resembling a groove, winning four of their last five games and dealing a healthy blow to whatever remaining hopes the Tampa Bay Rays had of sneaking into postseason play.

Likewise, the Sox have more or less stuck with the same group of starters throughout, and that won't change on Wednesday as Boston looks to take its third straight game from the Rays in the Tropicana Dome. The only major change in the lineup from Tuesday is Daniel Nava's presence in left field over Scott Podsednik.

Otherwise, it's the status quo for the Red Sox, as Pedro Ciriaco continues to bat leadoff, followed by the dynamic duo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia — Boston's two hottest hitters. Otherwise, James Loney continues to get the bulk of the playing time at first base. Does that suggest that the Red Sox may be giving him a serious look for the role in 2013? Or does the team just not believe in the viability of International League MVP Mauro Gomez to give him a shot there?

Aside from Nava, the only other change in the lineup is the flipping of designated hitter duties between Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway — the rookie will take over behind the plate, while Salty gets some extra rest as the DH.

For the Rays, Luke Scott and Carlos Pena return to the lineup, and in retrospect, they are two players which Tampa Bay may regret having signed in the offseason. While the two have a combined salary of $13.25 million — about 20 percent of the Rays' payroll — their combined WAR is exactly 0.3. That's clearly not the bang for the buck small-market teams like Tampa need to stay competitive.

Check out the starting lineups for both teams below:

Boston Red Sox
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
James Loney, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
Ryan Lavanway, C
Daniel Nava, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings, LF
B.J. Upton, CF
Ben Zobrist, SS
Evan Longoria, 3B
Luke Scott, DH
Jeff Keppinger, 2B
Matt Joyce, RF
Carlos Peña, 1B
Jose Molina, C

Chris Archer, RHP

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