Game 39: Red Sox at Rays - May the road rise up to meet you

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

It seems like it was long ago the last time the Boston Red Sox played a baseball game. By the time tonight’s first pitch rolls around, it will have been roughly 50 hours, or in baseball terms: For-e-ver.

The Sox hit the road for 14 of their next 20 games, beginning with tonight’s AL East clash in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston (22-16) comes into the series in third place in the East, two games back for the first-place New York Yankees. The Sox have lost eight of their last 10 games and each of their past three series to fall in the standings. Tampa Bay (19-18), meanwhile, has won five in a row and is above .500 for the first time since April 6, when it was 3-2.

John Lackey (1-3, 2.82 ERA) will attempt to stop the bleeding for the Red Sox. Here’s tonight’s lineup for Boston at Tropicana Field (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Gomes, LF
7. Middlebrooks, 3B
8. Drew, SS
9. Lavarnway, C

Lackey, P

Tampa Bay sends early Cy Young candidate Matt Moore to the bump. Moore (6-0, 2.14 ERA) is tied with three other pitchers for the American League lead in wins (6) and trails only Jordan Zimmerman (7) of the Washington Nationals in wins. The lefty will attempt to tie for the lead tonight.

Remember and honor
It won’t go away, and I detest bringing it up, but the last time the Sox and Rays met, Mike Napoli sent a Patriots’ Day crowd out with celebration with a walk-off double to sweep a three-game series. It was only moments later that the terror that filled Boston and our nation would unfold. As these two teams get together, I ask that we all stop and take a moment to think about, remember and honor those victims from that fateful day. This team and this city have taken on a mantra that rings loud and proud: Boston Strong.

Catching up
Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket this weekend when David Ross went to the 7-day DL for concussion symptoms. Tonight, Lavarnway gets the nod, presumably because he’s a right-handed hitter and manager John Farrell feels more comfortable with him at the plate to face the lefty Moore, rather than switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is better known for his left-handed hitting, so the prodigy will be behind the dish. Lavarnway has a career .172 average in the majors at the plate and played in 46 games during 2012. He hit two home runs and knocked in 12 RBIs, but only batted .157. This season for the PawSox, he’s batting .313 in 22 games with two homers, seven doubles and 15 RBIs. He has 13 walks and 13 strikeouts.

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