Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays @ Red Sox: No CC in Game 7
Posted Sep 18, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated Sep 18, 2011 at 11:22 AM
BOSTON Another Game 7 with the Red Sox, though, unlike the one the two teams played in 2008, this one won’t decide who goes to the World Series.
But this afternoon’s game, which wraps up this four-game series at Fenway Park and brings to an end the seven games between the Rays and Red Sox during the past 10 days, will greatly impact the race for the final American League playoff spot.
The Wild Card-leading Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Rays, who picked up a game with Saturday’s 4-3 victory. The Rays are 2-1 in this series and 5-1 in the first six games of this seven-stretch.
A win today and the Rays move to within two games with 10 games to play. It will also bed the closest the Rays were to the Wild Card lead since they trailed the Red Sox by 1 ½ games on June 30.
A loss and the Rays are four back with 10 to play. Not insurmountable, but the Rays would need a lot of help from the Orioles and Yankees – the Red Sox opponents over the final week of the season.
Also, the Rays play the Yankees seven times during the last 10 games, so four back is not what the Rays want to be when they board a train to New York City after this afternoon’s game.
Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford, who has been a non-factor against the Rays all season, is not in the lineup. He is 0-for-9 against Rays starter David Price. His replacement, Conner Jackson, has two hits in three at-bats against Price.
Joe Maddon is playing right-handed batters Sean Rodriguez and Kelly Shoppach against Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, hoping they will have success against the right-hander’s floaters. Also, it gives the Rays better defense behind the plate.
Here are the lineups: