The road ahead: Big division series in Tampa Bay

Sean Riley
Contributing Writer

Monday's are usually pretty bad, its back to work and no more BBQ's. But this Monday opens a three game series of Boston Red Sox games in Tampa Bay against the Rays and that alone will help me get through a miserable Monday work day. With Tampa Bay only 4.5 games back in the division, the Red Sox will look to take this series and push the Rays down farther in the A.L. East.

John Lackey will look to get the ball rolling on Monday's series opener and Sox fans are hoping to see the pitcher who has four start quality starts. A slow start to the season for Lackey but he has really picked it up as of late and it seems his arm is becoming stronger and velocity has followed suit. With an impressive 2.79 ERA in almost 52 innings this year Lackey has become a very solid middle of the rotation starter.

Opposing Lackey for Monday night's game will be Ray's young gun Alex Cobb. Boston has already seen Cobb twice this year and have only been able to bring home four earned runs in thirteen innings of work against the 25 year old. Tampa has continued to mold young pitchers in their system an Alex Cobb is off to a 6-2 start with a low 2.39 ERA. Hopefully the third time against Cobb is a charm for the Sox as they will look to jump on him early and often to begin this road trip.

Tuesday's expected matchup:
Jon Lester vs. Roberto Hernandez

Jon Lester will look to bounce back after taking a no decision against the Rangers. Besides the two early home runs against Lester in that start he was able to settle in and hold Texas to just three runs and seven hits over six innings of work. For Tampa, Roberto Hernandez in nine outings, seven starts, against Boston has a 2-4 record and a 3.63 ERA.

Boston will need to get quality starts and deep outings out of their starters this series against Tampa. On Thursday they will travel to Baltimore to start another tough four game series against the Orioles and will again look to separate themselves in the division.