It took a healthy dose of Daisuke Matsuzaka to get the job done, but the Tampa Bay Rays finally had their offense wake up last night. The Rays shellacked the Red Sox 16-5, scoring almost as many runs in one game as they had in their previous nine games (20). Both teams are now tied in the standings at 2-7, and they face off against tonight at 7:10 PM in a battle of both team's pitching ace: David Price against Jon Lester.
Price has had a rough start to the 2011 season, allowing seven runs in two starts (13 IP) for a 4.85 ERA. While the results haven't been spectacular, Price has posted some decent peripheral numbers: he struck out a batter per inning in his first start, he's only walked two batters in total, and he hasn't allowed a homerun yet. However, he did look rather shaky in his second start of the season, hitting a batter and not generating many swings and misses with his pitches, but it's still early in the year: his slight struggles should improve given time.
And facing the Red Sox could be just the medicine Price needs. The Sox have a very lefty-heavy lineup, and many of their key hitters struggle against left-handed pitchers. Take look at the list, including each player's Weighted On-Base Averages versus lefties:
On the flip side, Jon Lester has had a mixed bag of results so far this year: he's posted a 3.65 ERA, but his strikeout numbers have been low (around 6.5 K/9) and he's allowed a high number of homeruns (3). He is a dominant lefty starter, though, and those have always given the Rays trouble in the past. While the Rays had an impressive offensive outburst yesterday, tonight's game will likely be a challenge for their batters.
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