Game 103: Rays at Red Sox - Sox looking for breathing room

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Tampa Bay’s left-handed pitcher David Price, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, will be opposed by another left-handed starter from the Boston Red Sox who is pitching like he wants to win the Cy Young. No, we’re not talking about Jon Lester, who pitched tremendously Tuesday night. Rather, Felix Doubront, the young Venezuelan who is 7-3 with a 3.76 ERA and has won three straight starts.

Doubront and Price square off at Fenway Park, as the Red Sox (61-41) and Rays (59-42) each try to grab to upper-hand of this four game series, having split Games 1 and 2. Tampa Bay won the first game behind a phenomenal complete-game shutout by Matt Moore, who held the Sox to two hits. Boston won Game 2 with Lester having a much-needed bounce-back outing after struggling in his previous 11 starts prior to the All-Star Break.

Doubront has pitched six-plus innings in eight of his last 10 starts, including going 6.1 innings against the Yankees in his most recent outing, giving up one run on three hits with five strikeouts. Doubront is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA against Tampa Bay in six career starts. He will attempt to follow Brandon Workman and Lester, who each had a quality outing in this series, in hopes of pushing the Rays further away in the AL East (1.5 games back heading into tonight).

Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (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. Drew, SS
8. Saltalamacchia, C
9. Iglesias, 3B

Doubront, P

Price is rounding into form after a rough start to the season. He is 4-5 with a 4.03 ERA, but is 3-1 in his last four starts, having pitched two completes games in that span. Price also boasts an 18-3 record with a 3.33 ERA against division foes in their stadiums in his career (32 starts). In his last appearance against Boston, however, he allowed four runs on five hits in just 2.1 innings on May 15 at Tropicana Field.

Pedroia deal official
As RedSoxLife managing editor Scott Levesque wrote earlier, Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox officially announced his new contract extension earlier this afternoon. The announcement means Pedroia will likely spend his entire career in Boston, something Red Sox Nation has hoped for since the day he stepped on the field. It also gives the Sox some stability on the infield, in the lineup and in the clubhouse. Pedroia is a standout guy and signing him to a long-term deal made sense in every way.

Uehara pays dividends in multiple ways
#HighFiveCity has become the official Twitter hashtag for Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. The high-five-crazed pitcher loves to slap hands with his teammates following the end of a good inning. He has done his job on the mound as a fill-in with a 1.59 ERA and nine saves with a 2-0 record. Over the last month, Uehara’s ERA is just 0.59. But the Japanese-born pitcher has also relieved another fellow countryman: Junichi Tazawa. His hashtag (#TazMania) hasn’t quite caught the fire as Uehara’s, but the 27-year-old has received advice from his elder statesman. During the All-Star Break, Uehara mentioned to Tazawa that he noticed a drop in his arm angle. Tazawa stated that he has felt mentally fatigued recently – having made 46 appearances this season to match his career number – which could have led to the change in mechanics, but the advice of Uehara to raise it back up has worked wonders.

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

Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
Have a question or comment for Ben? Give him a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead