BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox have had a heck of a time trying to catch the Rays in the division. They might get there this weekend, though.
With the Rays losing on Thursday night in Seattle, Tampa’s lead over Boston is down to just a half-game. That’s the narrowest lead they’ve had since the end of May.
The rested Red Sox should have a chance to have a good weekend, too. They’ll be in Kansas City to take on a spiraling Royals team that has lost six straight games and 11 of their last 12 games. They just got swept by the Tigers, who were 26-39 entering the series and who outscored the Royals 20-11 in the three games. Prior to that, the Roayls lost two of three to the first-place A’s and got swept by the Angels, who were five games under .500 entering that series.
After starting the season 15-9, the Royals went 11-17 in May and they’re 4-11 thus far in June.
The Red Sox have had their recent issues with the Astros and Blue Jays, but they managed to stay tight with Tampa by sweeping the Yankees, winning a make-up game with the Marlins, and sweeping Atlanta in a back-and-forth two-game series this week.
As for this weekend, the Rays will be riding a three-game losing streak into the completion of their four-game set in Seattle.
Here’s how the pitching matchups are shaping up for both series.
BOS @ KC, 8:10 p.m. ET
Nick Pivetta (6-2, 4.28 ERA) vs. TBD
TB @ SEA, 10:10 p.m. ET
Michael Wacha (1-1, 4.54 ERA) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (3-3, 3.67 ERA)
BOS @ KC, 4:10 p.m. ET
Martin Perez (4-4, 4.52 ERA) vs. Kris Bubic (1-2, 4.01 ERA)
TB @ SEA, 10:10 p.m. ET
Josh Fleming (0-0, 3.20 ERA) vs. Logan Gilbert (2-2, 4.13 ERA)
BOS @ KC, 2:10 p.m. ET
Nathan Eovaldi (7-3, 3.76 ERA) vs. Brad Keller (6-6, 6.14 ERA)
TB @ SEA, 4:10 p.m. ET
Shane McClanahan (2-2, 4.42 ERA) vs. Marco Gonzales (1-4, 5.44 ERA)
The Red Sox moved intoa tie forfirst place on April 8, and they owned the top spot in the division until May 25. The Rays have held the top spot ever since.
There is, of course, no prize for claiming first place in the division in late June. But with the Red Sox set to visit the Rays for three games next week, the two teams figure to be jockeying atop the division for the foreseeable future. Considering how dominant the Rays have been this year — they went a ridiculous 22-5 from May 2 to May 31 — this week at the very least gives the Red Sox an opportunity to make a move in the division before hosting the Yankees for the first time next weekend.
On the other side, the Rays will be looking to stabilize after the rare three-game losing streak before trying to avenge the Red Sox’ early-season sweep at Fenway.