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The Guru
Contributing Writer

The Boston Red Sox (39-25) begin a seven game road trip tonight in Tampa. The Rays (34-28) currently trail the first place Sox by four games in the American League East.

With three games against the Rays and four against the Orioles in Baltimore, the Red Sox could create some distance or find themselves in fourth place by the end of the week.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that Sox players are holding a "players only" meeting at 4:30 today. Pressure is mounting.

The Red Sox have won six of their last eight games. A quick start is key. Boston is 26-4 when scoring first this season -- tied for the second-best record in MLB.

At 20-10 the Rays own the second-best record in the majors since May 8. Tampa Bay has lost five of its six meetings with Boston so far this season.

In game one John Lackey (3-5 2.79 ERA) goes for the Sox. The Rays send Alex Cobb (6-2, 2.39 ERA) to the hill.

Lackey is 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts.

Cobb is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox this season.

First pitch 7:10 EDT. Here’s today’s starting nine:

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Victorino RF
3. Pedroia 2B
4. Ortiz DH
5. Nava LF
6. Carp 1B
7. Saltalamacchia C
8. Middlebrooks 3B
9. Drew SS

Pitching: RHP John Lackey

Middlebrooks Returns: The Red Sox activated Will Middlebrooks from the DL before the game. He gets the start at third. Middlebrooks went 5-for-17 with two homers and six RBIs in five games at Pawtucket.

Ciriaco out, Iggy Sticks: With Middlebrooks back in the lineup, the Red Sox designated infielder Pedro Ciriaco for assignment. If he passes through waivers, he will report to Pawtucket. It’s good news for Jose Iglesias who proved more than capable at third base. Iggy has a 13 game hit streak and is batting .446.

Big Papi Bashing: David Ortiz, who has homered in two straight and three of his last four games, has 139 RBI in his career against Tampa Bay -- the second-most RBI in his career against any opponent (147 vs. Toronto).

Salty Raking: Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 11 of 30 with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in his last eight games.

Let Red Sox Life know your thoughts on tonight’s game below.

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The Guru 6/10/2013 02:49:00 PM Edit
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