Gut check time starts tonight at Fenway
What is easily the biggest series of Boston’s baseball season starts tonight at Fenway, as the Rays come in for the first of a four-game series. Obviously this series is huge because the Sox didn’t take care of business last weekend at Tropicana Field, losing three straight.
The Rays deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way they’ve hung in this thing, beating the Red Sox head on nine out of 14 times entering tonight.
“Against us, their pitching – they have a plan and they follow through with it,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “They’ve really done a good job against our hitters for the most part. They have very good pitching. They’re a hard team to play because they’re so aggressive and if you give them an opening they make you pay for it. Saying that, I’m kind of looking forward to this series. It’ll be fun to play. Because they are – they feel good about themselves. So this will be fun to play.”
This game is going to be the hardest of the four for the Sox to win, with Kyle Weiland facing a talented pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson.
“The kid tonight pitches beyond his years as far as maturity and his changeup. And he has enough velocity,” Francona said of Hellickson.
Here are all the permutations possible by the end of the weekend.
Sox win all four. They lead the Rays by eight with 10 to go.
Sox win three out of four. They lead the Rays by six with 10 to go.
Sox and Rays split the series. Sox still lead the Rays by four with 10 to go.
Rays win three out of four. They leave town two games behind the Sox with 10 to go.
Rays sweep. The teams are tied with 10 to play.
The Red Sox had some good news on the injury front today, as Clay Buchholz pitched off a mound for the first time since being shut down two months ago. Buchholz threw 15 pitches in front of the mound and 15 off of it. The righty’s big test will come Saturday, when he is scheduled to have a full-blown side session.
The other good news is that the lineup has both David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, who have recovered enough from their nagging injuries to play in this one.