Game 41: Red Sox at Rays - Felix on the hill

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

No way they can lose a fourth straight series, right? Well, that’s what the Boston Red Sox (23-17) hope to avoid tonight, as they go for their first series victory in their last four tries, this time against the Tampa Bay Rays (20-19). After getting just three hits in game one of the series, the Sox offense busted out with nine runs, including a grand slam by Stephen Drew, en route to a 9-2 win to set up the rubber game. Felix Doubront (3-1, 6.40 ERA) returns to the Red Sox rotation after being put in the pen last week to work out some mechanical (and possible mental) issues.

Drew gets somewhat rewarded for his slam by being moved from ninth to seventh in the Boston lineup. Other than that, it pretty much looks the same as usual (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

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

Doubront, P

Alex Cobb (4-2, 3.09 ERA) toes the rubber for the Rays in this one. Cobb has allowed seven homers in seven starts. The righty has given up 47 hits and 10 walks in just 46.2 innings pitched, but has struck out 46 batters. He may be all or nothing, and the Sox hope he’s full of nothing but hits and runs tonight.

Stay hot, Sox
Dustin Pedroia continued his hot streak with a 2-for-5 night, raising his average to .340 on the season. He carries a seven-game hitting streak into the game and is 15-for-29 during the streak. … Will Middlebrooks broke out of a home run slump with an opposite-field shot last night, his seventh of the season. Middlebrooks hadn’t homered since April 26 against the Astros. … Drew’s aforementioned grand slam was a welcomed sight from the bottom of the lineup. He has reached base safely in 17 of the last 18 games, hitting .317 during that stretch and leading all American League shortstops with a .609 SLG in May.

Drew, Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia typically make up the bottom third of the order and the trio combined for four of the 10 Sox hits Wednesday. That kind of production, including the five RBIs, will help round out the lineup and give pitchers more of a fight throughout the game.

Red-eye to Minnesota
After tonight’s game, the Red Sox will load the plane and head north to Minneapolis for a weekend series against the Twins. Pending how tonight’s game goes or how long it goes, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see manager John Farrell pull a few of his starters in the late innings, namely David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. If the game’s close or moving briskly, don’t think for a minute that will happen.

A new mini-season
Wednesday’s game concluded the fourth mini-season, as I like to call it. The 10-game mini-seasons provide a gauge of how the team is doing in more recent games. Here are the results of the first four seasons:

1) 6-4
2) 7-3
3) 7-3
4) 3-7

Not what you would expect in that fourth season, considering how well the first three went. Nonetheless, the Sox have a .575 win percentage, putting them on pace for roughly 93 wins this season.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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