Major League Baseball
Preview
Boston at Tampa Bay
When: 7:10 PM ET, Friday, July 25, 2014
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

The Boston Red Sox looked like they were joining the Tampa Bay Rays in their ascent from the bottom of the American League East to postseason contention but are falling off the pace. The Red Sox attempt to snap a three-game slide when they visit the Rays for the start of a three-game series on Friday. Tampa Bay has won seven straight and 16 of its last 20 to climb past Boston and within four games of .500.

The Rays were considered prime sellers at the trade deadline prior to their recent surge, with Friday’s starter David Price the big prize on the market. Price drilled Boston designated hitter David Ortiz with a pitch in his last start against the Red Sox and the two exchanged postgame barbs, but the anticipated rematch might not get a chance to take place. Ortiz, who homered four times in the four-game series against Toronto, left Thursday’s finale in the ninth inning after taking an awkward swing and grabbing the middle of his back.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Jon Lester (10-7, 2.50 ERA) vs. Rays LH David Price (10-7, 3.06)

Lester and Boston management can’t seem to get on the same page during contract negotiations but it has yet to effect him on the field. The free agent-to-be has allowed a total of five earned runs in his last seven starts and struck out eight over eight scoreless innings to earn a win over Kansas City on Sunday. Lester dominated Tampa Bay in the latest matchup on June 1, fanning 12 in seven scoreless frames.

Price has been just as effective of late and has won his last five starts, including eight scoreless innings in each of the last two. The one blemish on Price’s season line is 19 home runs allowed, though he managed to keep his last two opponents in the park. The former Cy Young winner went seven innings in that controversial start at Boston on May 30, allowing a pair of runs without factoring in the decision.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox totaled seven runs in the last three games after averaging 7.6 in the previous five - all wins.

2. Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria has 10 RBIs in the last 10 games.

3. Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-24 since the All-Star break.

PREDICTION: Rays 2, Red Sox 1
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Boston 47-55 L3 26-26 21-29 17-25 14-15 10-9 6-6
Tampa Bay 49-53 W7 22-28 27-25 20-21 11-12 12-12 6-8
Last Meeting
Boston Tampa Bay
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
6/1/14 TB 0 BOS 4 .233 0 .768 .156 0 .416
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Boston B. Holt .357 10 1.030
Tampa Bay E. Longoria .316 12 .720
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Boston J. Bradley Jr. 1 5 4
Tampa Bay S. Rodriguez 2 4 5
Pitching ERA Avg K
Boston 2.95 .229 71
Tampa Bay 3.95 .215 89
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Boston M. Napoli .276 80 .843
Tampa Bay J. Loney .284 108 .723
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Boston D. Ortiz 24 40 72
Tampa Bay E. Longoria 12 54 50
Pitching ERA Avg K
Boston 3.82 .248 814
Tampa Bay 3.71 .253 896