The Red Sox come into this two-game set in Tampa with a three-game lead in the AL East thanks to a six-game win streak and the sensational play of rookie third baseman Rafael Devers.
The Rays are 5.5 back of the Sox and need to take both games to keep their divisional hopes going. They are, however, well in the thick of the Wild Card race. Tied with the Royals for the second wild card, Tampa can’t afford to fall back into the clutches of the chasing pack.
Game 1 starters – Chris Sale (LHP) vs Austin Pruitt (RHP)
Sale’s last start was a rare rough one, as he got tagged for two home runs and seven earned runs, ending a streak of 22.1 scoreless innings. He has, however, continued his incredible strikeout rate and is leading the league with 12.7 K/9 this year.
Rays rookie Pruitt is carrying a 5.65 ERA and 1.558 WHIP, however, in his three starts, his numbers are far better. A 3.14 ERA and 0.977 WHIP as a starter is far more reassuring to Rays fans. His last outing was on August 2 when he blanked the Astros across 6.1 innings. If he can bring that kind of performance again then Tampa stand a chance of beating Sale.
|Red Sox Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Bradley Jr, CF||13||.259||.332|
|Rays Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
Who’s hot, and who’s not
In nine games with the Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez is hitting .400 with four homers and 12 RBI. Playing for a contender in a park that doesn’t kill hitters has woken him up. His bat has been supported by that of Rafael Devers, who has slashed .349/.429/.605 with three homers in his 11 games in the Majors.
The last two weeks haven’t been friendly to Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, or Jackie Bradley Jr though, they are all hitting .220 or under with one homer.
Over the last week, both Logan Morrison and Steven Souza have a pair of homers, while both Morrison and recent signing Lucas Duda are hitting over .300.
Unfortunately, Corey Dickerson has cooled off in recent weeks, hitting .208 in the last two weeks and going 0-for-12 in the recent series with the Brewers.
Prediction: Red Sox 5 – 2 Rays
The Red Sox are in a groove and the longer it goes the less likely they are to be caught. With a trip to the Bronx following this pair of games in Tampa they need to keep their momentum up, and with Sale on the mound and their newer bats booming, it seems like they will keep on rolling. There is a threat though. The Rays are a powerful team who can blast home runs up and down the lineup. A few long balls and suddenly this game will be in danger.
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