The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in baseball right now. The Rays have won five straight games, 17 of their last 19 and are 15-2 in July.
Tonight the Rays invade Fenway Park looking to lay claim to first place in the American League East. The Red Sox currently lead the Rays by 1 1/2 games.
There's a lot on the line.
"Big series," Rays DH Luke Scott said. "Two very good teams, AL East battle, pennant race, there's going to be some good games. A lot on the line. It should be a fun series."
Fun? Things may get rough. These rivals have a history.
From Gerald Williams charging at Pedro Martinez to Coco Crisp's swing and miss on James Shields there have been memorable dust-ups. The latest occurred June 10 when Sox starter John Lackey plunked the Rays Matt Joyce and the dugouts emptied.
Expect more fireworks for the next four nights.
The Red Sox are the one team in the division to give the Rays fits this year, winning nine of 12 games, including five of six at Fenway Park. Three of those Red Sox wins were walk-offs.
"It is a prime opportunity, and again I hate to go there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I know it's a four-game series there, but the moment we start thinking about it in those terms, it's going to get away from us. It's going to be about (tonight) and etc. I just like the way we're playing."
While Maddon may be downplaying things, there is no doubt the next four games will be a hard fought battle for the American League East.
And when I say battle, I mean it almost literally.
The Red Sox will send rookie Brandon Workman to the mound Monday to face 13-game winner Matt Moore.