By Matt Straub
I feel like a greedy fan. The Boston Red Sox are in first place coming off a split of a four-game division series, but I’m starting to find more and more flaws within the roster. Yes, everything seems fine on the surface, but there are some troublesome signs which could become bigger factors going forward. To make things even more concerning, the Red Sox are going to their personal house of horrors in Tampa Bay. Let’s break down a scary series for the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox (8-5, 1st place AL East)
at Tampa Bay Rays (6-7, 3rd Place AL East)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.
Wade Miley (0-1, 10.57 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (2-1, 1.37)
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.
Joe Kelly (1-0, 2.13) vs. Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.58)
Thursday, 7:10 p.m.
Clay Buchholz (1-2, 6.06) vs. Jake Odorizzi (2-1, 1.74)
The Red Sox have lost some lately, splitting a four-game set with the Orioles. If that’s your worst stretch of the year you’re doing fine, but they just don’t seem as sharp as they were earlier in the year. The Rays, however, have none, having been swept by the Yankees at the Trop over the weekend.
Three Red Sox Storylines
1. The ship appears to be taking on water for the first time this year. I know it sounds like a spoiled fan talking about a first-place team struggling, but the Red Sox are showing warts which were getting glossed over by all the big wins in the first week. They’re in good shape record wise, but the pitching has been bad of late, injuries are starting to creep up and the players are a bit cranky lately. It might just seem magnified because everything else was going so well, but this is the first blip on the radar this year.
2. The Red Sox are heading to their least favorite place to play their least favorite team. Joe Maddon isn’t there to stir the pot this time, but something always seems to happen between the teams and, when the game is being played, something always seems to go wrong when the Sox are in Tampa. Just getting through this series will be a bonus.
3. Pablo Sandoval is struggling against left-handed pitchers (0-for-13) so much the Red Sox have started sitting him against lefties. It could be in part a good excuse to get him and his big frame through the grind of a long year, but the Red Sox didn’t pay all that money for a part-time player.
Three Rays To Know
1. Steven Souza Jr. leads the Rays in average, homers, RBI, OBP and hits. Now, part of that is because the Rays aren’t hitting, but he is the kind of young, emerging player the Rays always seem to find.
2. Without a lot of protection, Evan Longoria has been awful through two weeks. But he’s still Evan Longoria and could break out at any time. The Red Sox hope it’s not this week.
3. Brad Boxberger already has four saves, so the Red Sox will want to get leads before the ninth inning and you might want to pick him up for your fantasy team.
The Red Sox head to Baltimore to renew acquaintances with the Orioles. I love having more division games, but I do wish they were more spread out.