BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: The bench of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park April 11, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

David Price Stymies Red Sox As Rays Win 3-2

The Rays and Red Sox are now tied in the standings at 2-7 each, and both teams are sending their staff aces to the mound tonight: David Price vs. Jon Lester.

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David Price Stymies Red Sox As Rays Win 3-2

Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox entered this week’s series against each other on a slide, but you’d never know it from watching these two clubs play. While the calendar says April and the Sox and Rays are both well below .500, these teams still know how to battle when facing each other. It was a hard-fought game tonight between David Price and Jon Lester, coming down to the very last out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Rays held on to win 3-2, taking their second in a row from the Red Sox.

The Red Sox shed first blood, scoring on a solo homerun by Darnell McDonald in the bottom of the third inning. Price had been throwing well to this point, striking out one while inducing many groundball outs, but he hung a curveball over the middle of the plate to McDonald and he made Price pay.

The Rays charged right back, though, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth inning. Kelly Shoppach and Dan Johnson led the charge with a singles, and then Elliot Johnson singled to left field to load the bases. Sam Fuld then hit a groundball to Adrian Gonzalez at first base, but although he threw home to get the force out, Shoppach manage to sneak in ahead of the throw. Johnny Damon than singled in two more runs, before B.J. Upton ended the thread by hitting into an inning-ending double play.

The Sox would score one more run in the sixth inning, but for the most part Price shut them down. He wasn’t at his most dominating, only striking out three while walking two, but he managed to keep the Sox from making solid contact throughout the game and keep them off the base paths.

Game Notes:

- Kyle Farnsworth closed out the game in the ninth inning, shutting down the Red Sox without allowing a baserunner. For all the flak Farnsworth gets about not being able to deal with high leverage situations, that was one gutsy performance in about the more pressure-filled situation you can have this early in the year. Up by one run in the bottom of the ninth, facing the heart of the Red Sox’s order at Fenway? That’s not easy.

But Farnsworth got Jacoby Ellsbury to strike out on three pitches, then fell behind J.D. Drew 3-0 before coming back and striking him out on a curve. And then David Ortiz came to the plate and hit a deep drive to right field, but it didn’t even reach the warning track and was easily catchable for Ben Zobrist. Game, set, match.

- Entering tonight’s game, the Rays and Red Sox were both 2-7 and tied for last place in the AL East. Now the Rays are a game ahead of the Red Sox, and have a chance to sweep the Red Sox tomorrow night at 7:10 PM.

For more coverage of the Tampa Bay Rays, follow DRaysBay.com.

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Rays Vs. Red Sox Lineups: Sam Fuld In Left Again

Sam Fuld appears to have once again pushed Casey Kotchman from the starting lineup. Fuld, who has set Rays fans on fire and given ESPN hours of incredible footage, continued his early season heroics yesterday by adding another amazing catch to his resume and coming up an extra double too long for the cycle (hitting 1 HR, 1 triple, and 2 doubles).

As such, the Rays have awarded him with more playing time. Initially after Manny Ramirez retired, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon had said Casey Kotchman would handle the first base duties and Dan Johnson would slide into the DH role. However, Fuld’s outstanding play has pushed Johnny Damon into the DH role and left Kotchman on the bench.

Meanwhile, Dan Johnson has done his part to show Joe Maddon he belongs on the field, making several impressive stretches early this year. Still, Kotchman figures to get some time at least as a defensive replacement for Johnson in late innings with the lead.

The lineup courtesy of MLB.com.

Sam Fuld, LF
Johnny Damon, DH
B.J. Upton, CF
Felipe Lopez, 3B
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Ben Zobrist, RF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Dan Johnson, 1B
Elliot Johnson, SS

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David Price, Jon Lester Face Off In Rays, Red Sox Game Tuesday Night

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:

- Carl Crawford: .307 wOBA
- David Ortiz: .337 wOBA
- Adrian Gonzalez: .338 wOBA 
- J.D. Drew: .340 wOBA
- Jacoby Ellsbury: .333 wOBA

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.

For more coverage of the Rays, follow DRaysBay.com.

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