BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox look to make it 10-straight wins as they kick off a three-game trip to Tampa Bay against the Rays.
It will be Carl Crawford’s first trip to Tropicana Field as a visitor, and the timing is perfect for Crawford. The Rays All-Time leader in hits has at least one hit in 10 of the last 11 games, and is batting .302 for the month of June. After a dismal start, CC is up to .246 for the season. When the Rays took two from the Red Sox at Fenway back in April, Crawford was hitting just .132 (he went 2-for-8 in the series lifting his average to .152).
The Red Sox are also getting major offensive contributions from David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez. Ortiz is hitting .400 to start the month with five home runs, six doubles and 15 RBI. Papi has two homers and seven RBI in his last two games.
Gonzalez meanwhile has a chance to make it 10-straight games with an RBI, something the Red Sox have not done since 2002 when Manny Ramirez pulled it off. He currently leads all of baseball with 60 RBI, and leads the AL with a .341 average.
They will, however, have a few solid Rays’ pitchers trying to keep the bats at bay.
“Big Game” James Shields starts the series off for Tampa, and although his 5-9 career record against Boston is nothing impressive, he is 4-1 in his last five starts against the Sox in Tampa. He is opposed by Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has 21-career wins against the Rays.
On Wednesday, Josh Beckett will match up with 24-year-old Jeremy Hellickson. The righty already has seven wins in his first full-season as a starter, including a complete game shutout against Baltimore back in May. In his last outing though, the Orioles tagged him for five runs in 5.2 innings.
The series concludes with a battle of between fireballer David Price and Clay Buchholz. This is a pitching matchup the Rays-Sox rivalry should see plenty more times down the road.
Despite losing Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and clubhouse leader Jason Bartlett in the off-season, the Rays (35-31) are still making noise in the competitive AL East. All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria miss most of April and has yet to hit his offensive stride, but third-year outfielder Matt Joyce has filled his shoes nicely. Joyce leads the Rays with a .328 batting average, 10 home runs and is second with 34 RBI.
Johnny Damon has also made an impact in his first year in Tampa, batting .282 with eight home runs and 33 RBI.
Pitching Matchups For 3-Game Set At The Trop
- Tim Wakefield (3-1, 4.84 ERA) vs. James Shields (5-4, 2.85 ERA)
- Josh Beckett (5-2, 2.06 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (7-4, 3.03 ERA)
- Clay Buchholz (5-3, 3.59 ERA) vs. David Price (7-5, 3.51 ERA)