The Boston Red Sox rallied in the bottom of the ninth to win 3-2 on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays. After a slow start, the Red Sox now sit at 23-23 on the season. Fernando Rodney had converted all 15 of his save opportunities prior to blowing the save last night. Tampa Bay sits just one game behind the Orioles in the AL East. This is the rubber match of this three-game series.
Tampa Bay is very short-handed offensively, but they continue to get the job done. Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings are both out of the lineup. B.J. Upton is known as a streaky hitter, and he is really seeing the ball well right now. He leads the team with a .303 batting average. Matt Joyce has been the consistent hitter in the middle of the order for the Rays. Carlos Pena started the season red hot, but he has been in a major tailspin of late. Ben Zobrist is a guy that Tampa Bay really needs to get more production from offensively.
Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound in this one for Tampa Bay. Hellickson is 4-1 with a brilliant 2.73 ERA. He is one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Hellickson did give up five runs at Fenway Park in April. He has struggled on the road so far this year.
As much as the Rays have been bit by the injury bug, Boston has even more hitters missing from their lineup. Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Cody Ross are all out of the lineup now. Kevin Youkilis missed an extended amount of time earlier this year. Still, Boston’s lineup has been one of the best in baseball. The Red Sox are second in the majors in runs scored per game at 5.28 per contest. David Ortiz is having a tremendous season. Ortiz leads the team in batting average, home runs, and RBI’s. Mike Aviles has been a great pleasant surprise for the team. Dustin Pedroia hasn’t hit for great power, but he is getting on base. Once this offense gets completely healthy, they may be the best in the majors.
Clay Buchholz has been the beneficiary of some tremendous run support this year. He has a 4-2 record despite having a miserable 7.84 ERA in 2012. Buchholz has as many walks as strikeouts (27) on the season, and he is clearly struggling in a big way with his command. If Boston is going to make a serious run at the AL East, Buchholz has to find his form.
Free MLB Pick: Rays ML
Clay Buchholz has allowed at least four runs in every single start except one so far this year. Hellickson hasn’t been great on the road, but he is pitching much better than Buchholz right now. I like the value with the Rays here.