When the Sox arrive home to begin a two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, there will be more talk of injuries than the hot race in the American League East, which sees both of these teams trying to keep pace with the New York Yankees.
Boston enters the set as a banged-up bunch after seeing three potential All-Stars — Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz and Victor Martinez — get hurt this weekend in San Francisco.
Still, the Sox have greatly outplayed the Rays of late. Including Boston's three-game sweep in Tampa Bay in late May, the Sox have produced a 9 1/2-game turnaround between the teams.
The road team has won all seven meetings this year, with the Rays sweeping the Sox in Fenway Park over Patriots' Day weekend. John Lackey, who took the loss in the finale of that series, goes for Boston on Tuesday opposite James Shields.
WHEN AND WHERE
Rays (44-31) at Red Sox (46-31)
Tuesday, June 29, 7:10 p.m.
Fenway Park, Boston
HEAD TO HEAD
Despite losing four to Tampa Bay at home in April, Boston is still 74-32 all-time at Fenway Park against the Rays.
RHP James Shields (6-7, 4.55 ERA) vs. RHP John Lackey (4-3, 4.69 ERA)
Lackey is 10-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 career starts against the Rays, but he has had some very different results this year. After giving up a season-high eight runs in a season-low 3 1/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay on April 19, Lackey yielded just two runs in 6 1/3 innings at Tropicana Field on May 26, part of an 11-3 Boston victory.
The righty is 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA over his last six starts.
Shields has been the poster child for the Rays' struggles of late. He is 1-6 with a 6.93 ERA over his last seven starts and the one win came in a one-inning relief appearance at Florida on June 19.
The 28-year-old has some similar numbers in his career at Fenway Park, where he is 1-6 with a 7.53 ERA in seven starts.
|John Jaso, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Ben Zobrist, CF
Matt Joyce, DH
Sean Rodriguez, RF
Reid Brignac, 2B
Jason Bartlett, SS
|Marco Scutaro, SS
Daniel Nava, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Bill Hall, 2B
Mike Cameron, CF
- Boston has used 22 different starting outfield combinations this year.
- Third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .383 (23-for-60) with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 16 games.
- The next home run by designated hitter David Ortiz will tie him with Adam Dunn for 90th on the all-time major league list.
- Tampa Bay has failed to score more than five runs in six straight games, averaging 2.8 runs in that stretch.
- Right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit has at least one strikeout in nine out of 10 appearances this month and 31 in 21 innings overall.
- Center fielder B.J. Upton is 3-for-27 (.111) with nine strikeouts over his last seven games.
BLACK AND BLUE
- Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a non-displaced fracture in his left foot. He suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his left foot the day before. Team officials said Monday he may miss as many as six weeks.
- Catcher Victor Martinez has a minimally displaced fracture on the tip of his left thumb after taking two foul balls off the thumb during Sunday's game in San Francisco. He has yet to be placed on the DL but some reports surfaced late Monday saying that he would be disabled once Tuesday rolled around.
- Clay Buchholz suffered a left hamstring strain running the bases Saturday in San Francisco. There are no immediate plans to place him on the disabled list but he is expected to miss at least one start.
- Outfielder Jeremy Hermida was placed on the DL on June 11 after an MRI revealed five fractured ribs, the result of a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre one week earlier.
- An MRI conducted June 9 revealed a new fracture in outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's ribs. Ellsbury, who was placed on the DL May 28 for the second time this year, has been at the Athletes' Performance center in Arizona for three weeks but has yet to resume baseball activities.
- Josh Beckett is expected to begin a rehab assignment soon as he works his way back from a lower back strain.
- Infielder Jed Lowrie remains on the DL after coming down with mononucleosis during spring training. He is playing in extended spring training games.
- Righty Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
- Left fielder Carl Crawford has not started since June 24 due to a left shoulder injury.
- Outfielder Gabe Kapler hopes to come off the disabled list Wednesday. He has been sidelined with a strained right hip flexor.
- Reliever J.P. Howell is out for the season after left shoulder surgery.
These are two teams heading in opposite directions, but the Rays have two things going for them. One, they dominated Boston in Fenway Park earlier this year. Two, it's hard to imagine them getting any lower than they did Sunday, when a pair of stars nearly came to blows in a home loss to a last-place National League team.
For the Sox, it's just a matter of getting through another day with a relative degree of health.