By Matt Straub
I spent most of the last five hours or so trying to come up with a reason to convince you to watch the Red Sox and Rays play starting tonight. The Yankees are still technically alive, and Derek Jeter is winding down his career over on the other channel, while Boston and the Rays are playing for pride alone, and neither team has much lately. The Red Sox have a few young players to keep an eye on, but little else. The Rays are eliminated and no longer have David Price.
The two teams can’t stand each other, but in the recent sports climate, I don’t really feel like pushing you to watch because there might be a fight. The Rays, however, can get on people’s nerves, as they always end up in feuds (the Yankees being their most recent dance partners) but never think anything is their fault.
So, with those couple of exceptions, I’ve struck out in my quest to give you reasons to care about this series. If you’re a die-hard like me, or hate the Rays and want to watch them lose, here’s a breakdown of the last regular series of the year for the Sox. When the Yankees come to town, it will be like little else we’ve seen in Boston in a long time.
Tampa Bay Rays (75-81, eliminated)
at Boston Red Sox (68-88, eliminated)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.
Alex Cobb (9-8, 2.82) vs. Clay Buchholz (8-9, 5.29)
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.
Jake Odorizzi (11-12, 3.98) vs. Anthony Ranaudo (3-3, 5.29)
Thursday, 7:10 p.m.
Jeremy Hellickson (1-4, 3.96) vs. Allen Webster (4-3, 5.54)
Playoff picture: Nothing to see here.
Momentum: Both teams are 5-5 in their last 10, which for each team gives some hope heading to next year.
Who’s Hot: For Boston, Daniel Nava has seven hits in his last 19 at-bats. David Ortiz missed three of the last six games, but has been one of the best hitters in league this year. Bryce Brentz, one of the recent callups for the Sox, has looked good in the field and was 2-for-6 last week. Former Boston infielder James Loney is on a nice roll with Tampa, and Yunel Escobar has had a nice five-game stretch.
Who’s Not: For Boston, everyone besides those I mentioned above, especially Xander Bogaerts. The young shortstop has finally cooled off after a hot stretch once he got the role at short back from Stephen Drew. Jemile Weeks has been miserable on the bases, and Rusney Castillo, the much talked about new Cuban outfielder, hasn’t looked terribly impressive yet. For Tampa, Evan Longoria is four for his last 17 and Will Myers is 2-for-12 (but will always have a warm spot in Boston’s hearts).
Looking Ahead: The Derek Jeter retirement tour ends in Boston, where hopefully the Red Sox put on a better tribute than they did for Mo Rivera. I think they will.