Monday was exactly what the Red Sox needed. A day off! Heading to Tampa after being beat on by the Blue Jays the Sox look to get their month of May back going as they are now 2-8 in their last ten. (If that isn't embarrassing enough I should mention the ASTROS are also 2-8) The last time these teams met in April they had a reverse record and now the Rays are just 2.5 games back hoping to get their 6th win in a row now. Designated hitter Mike Napoli homered for the first time in 10 games on Sunday. The veteran is batting .242 with four home runs in 15 games away from Fenway Park. He is a career .265 hitter with seven home runs in 35 games against Tampa Bay, and he has four homers at Tropicana Field. David Ortiz has been the all star for the Sox through his time back except for the past 10 games. Ortiz began the year hitting over .400 with a 27 game hitting streak but in his last 17 at bats he has gotten just 1 hit. Luckily Ortiz had Sunday off and we will see him in the line up tonight versus the Rays in game 1. Desmond Jennings has missed three straight games due to a lingering groin injury, but the Rays are hopeful he'll be able to play on Tuesday. Jennings sat out the entire San Diego series, though he said he probably could have played on Sunday if the game had been later in the pennant race.

Game 1: John Lackey (1-3) vs. Matt Moore (6-0)

John Lackey enters this game with a great record versus the Rays at 12-6. Lackey missed most of April due to a bicep injury but has had a decent start or two since then. Lackey has lost each of his last two outings and has given up a home run in three of his last four starts. He's done well in what he has pitched, though, with over three times as many strikeouts as walks, and, despite some occasional mistakes, what looks like the kind of command he couldn't sustain while his elbow was a problem back in 2011. To face Lackey on Tuesday will be the amazing youngster Matt Moore. Moore has started the season 6-0 being just the 3rd pitcher under 24 to do so. The 23-year-old has struck out 43 batters in 42 innings, and he's 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA at home. The former eighth-round draftee has worked at least five innings in each of his seven outings, and he's been working on being more efficient with hitters. The only struggle for Moore has been his walks allowed which if the Sox learn to be patient at the plate they will have no problem forcing a few walks. Now all this talk about Matt Moore makes the Sox seem hopeless. Though David Ortiz has been anything but good in the past few series, he is 4 for 7 off Matt Moore so if he can get his form back maybe he will be back in his April self! As the Sox are preparing for this game they need to remember to put the past behind them even though it has been rough,. "I think we've got a number of guys dealing with frustration right now. There's no question about it," manager John Farrell said. "The key for us is maintaining our level of preparation and our work routine. Those are the two things that we can control." Matt Moore will be fighting for his 8th win in a row going back to last season which will tie a franchise record for him. Another great sign for the Red Sox is the fact that Shane Victorino has been cleared to play tonight after being tested for his injury.

Prediction: Rays win 4-2

 

Game 2: Jon Lester (5-0) vs. David Price (1-3)

For the third time of their careers reigning Cy Young winner David Price will take on Boston's ace, Jon Lester. Between them the Sox are up 2-1 and all games have been within 2 runs. "Obviously you know going into the game who you're pitching against," Lester said after his start against Price in early April. "The biggest thing is that you can't worry about that. You can't worry about, 'OK, we've got Price' -- or [CC] Sabathia or whoever it may be. You start worrying about the pitcher, you're worrying about the wrong things." When these guys met earlier this season they had a great duel where Lester went 7 innings with one run allowed as Price went six innings with one run allowed. The Rays have lost six of his eight starts this year after going 21-10 in his 31 starts last year.After a slow start, the Rays are riding a six-game winning streak and the Red Sox, who turned in a torrid April, have lost nine of their last 11. Last night David Ortiz came up with a 3 run shot in the first inning to give him his first RBI in seven games but the rest of his night was silent. The Rays bullpen has been hotter than anyone this season so far as they no hit the Sox for 3 plus innings last night to move their scoreless streak to 16 plus innings. Both pitchers will be tough to beat in this game as even though Price may have been weak so far this year he is beginning to get his form back. Lester has been up and down all around this season but has yet to get a loss this season so expect a great pitching matchup tonight!

Prediction: Red Sox end the slup with a 3-1 win

Game 3: Felix Doubront (3-1) vs. Alex Cobb (4-2)

So my game 2 scoring prediction was a little off BUT in my defense I was not expecting Price to get injured! Game 3 will feature the young Sox, Felix Doubront who has had a bit of struggle over his past few games including last game where he especially struggled as he has allowed 12 runs over his last 9 innings pitched. The upside to Felix so far this season is he has only allowed 1 home run so far. Doubront had his last start taken from him by Allen Webster as a trial run but Doubront soon made it in for relief by the 3rd inning where he did not pitch so well either. "Well, it would just be to repeat some of the work that he’s been doing with his lower half and stride direction," manager John Farrell said of Doubront throwing Wednesday. "Not uncommon. Clay (Buchholz) does it as well. I’s been done." With the alter between Doubront and Buchholz, Doubront will be pitching Thursday after having a bullpen session Wednesday which is extremely rare. To face him in the finale will be strikeout king Alex Cobb. Strikeout king may be an understatement as in his last start he set the MLB record by striking out 13 of his 14 outs in the game. Like Doubront, Cobb actually had some issues in the game, giving up a pair of homers and three runs, as well as a pair of walks, and failed to pitch long enough to qualify for the W. With the Red Sox striking out all over the place this year, he might add to his recent success with the K to close out the series. With all this K talk I am sure Mike Napoli is working on his plate vision as he is 3rd in strikeouts against. Both offenses have been hot and should be again for this series finale!

Prediction: Red Sox win 8-5