The Boston Red Sox keep getting players back … and keep losing more. Clay Buchholz returned on Saturday but Adrian Gonzalez was held out with back spasms and is doubtful for Sunday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox might not need the extra pop on Sunday, when they go up against struggling starter James Shields. The Rays will be looking to post their second straight home series win.
Jacoby Ellsbury is back but Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia are not expected to return until next week for the Red Sox, who are waiting until they are at full strength to accurately assess the team before the trade deadline. Tampa Bay is closer to playoff contention than Boston, sitting one-half game out of the second wild card spot in the American League. Somehow the Rays continue to hang on despite Evan Longoria being out of the lineup and most of the offense and defense struggling.
Red Sox Rays Betting
When: 1:40 PM ET, Sunday, July 15, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 1:40 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), SUN (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.43 ERA) vs. Rays RH James Shields (8-5, 4.17)
Beckett has not earned a win since May 20 and was knocked around for six runs and eight hits in five innings against the New York Yankees his last time out. The right-hander has not yielded a home run in any of his last eight starts and has allowed two runs or less five times in that span. He did not factor in the decision against the Rays on May 26 despite surrendering only two runs in seven innings. Beckett is 10-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 21 career starts against Tampa Bay.
Shields has been pounded for 41 hits and 17 earned runs in 26 2/3 innings over his last four starts. The veteran right-hander has allowed four earned runs or more in eight of his last 11 turns. Shields had his best start of the season at Boston on April 16, when he surrendered four hits in 8 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up a win. He is 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA in 22 career starts against the Red Sox.
1. Crawford went 2-for-4 in a rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday and is expected to join the team on Monday for the start of a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
2. The top three hitters in Tampa Bay’s lineup are a combined 2-for-23 with nine strikeouts in the series.
3. Rays RF Matt Joyce (oblique) will play for Class A Charlotte on a rehab assignment starting Sunday