By Matt Straub
The Red Sox enter a home series in Tampa not quite desperate, but in great need of a big series considering the schedule ahead and the stench of a sweep at the hands of the Yankees still filling Fenway Park.
With a pitching staff which has become a disgrace and an offense which isn’t living up to expectations, the Red Sox have to figure something out before the road trip comes. Let’s break down how they can turn things around against their nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay Rays (13-12, tied for 2nd place AL East)
at Boston Red Sox (12-13, 4th place AL East)
Monday, 7:10 p.m.
Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 2.41 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.76)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.
Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.38) vs. Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.34)
Wednesday, 7:10 pm.
Alex Colome (1-0, 0,00) vs. Justin Masterson (2-0, 4.71)
The Red Sox just got swept by their bitter rivals, the Yankees, who have now won nine of their last 12 at Fenway. Moreover, the Sox have lost 7-of-10. Their run differential is now -12, They have become distracted, disinterested (as evidenced by getting caught up in a stupid beanball feud last night) and lost. Their pitching is an abomination, their offense is streaky, and they don’t always field well. More importantly, the swagger a truly good team has every day, even in losses, is gone. The Red Sox don’t feel like the favorite to win that day’s game anymore, which is a big problem.
Three Red Sox Storylines
1. The bullpen, which was once a savior for the terrible starters, now is struggling itself. Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and others were all lit up by the Yankees, and Boston’s best reliever might have been a recent call up I had never heard of.
2. Ryan Hanigan is out until the summer, leaving the Red Sox with a young catcher, Blake Swihart, and a backup in Sandy Leon. Which leads to this question: If Leon was so bad you don’t feel safe starting him in a pinch, why is he on the team?
3. There’s a huge road trip coming up, so the Red Sox will need to finish this series well to try and get something going heading to Toronto and then out west.
Three Rays To Know
1. Evan Longoria continues to struggle going .182 last week and has just one homer for the season. He did well the last time he played Boston, however, so the Sox had better be careful.
2. Logan Forsythe has been hot lately and solid all year, which typifies the Rays’ offense: solid if unspectacular.
3. Drew Smyly is back and pitching well for Tampa. He has a 2.82 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox, though this year’s lineup is much better than the last one he faced.
The Red Sox head to Toronto before a big West Coast trip.