The Tampa Bay Rays (19-18) will try for their 6th victory in a row against the Boston Red Sox (22-16). The two teams met back in mid-April with the Red Sox sweeping the 3 game set in Fenway Park which included a pair of 1-run walk-off victories. One of the walk-off victories came on Patriots Day but the thrill of the victory was soon forgotten after the unimaginable events of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded.
The two teams meet for the first time since that fateful day and although the players may talk about their experiences that day the focus will be on baseball. The Red Sox enter the series losers of 2 in a row and 8 of their last 10 and currently sit 2.5 games ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings.
Matt Moore (6-0, 2.74) will try to become the first Rays pitcher to begin a season 7-0. Three other have started a season 6-0: Jeff Niemann (2010), J.P. Howell (2008), and James Shields (2007). Moore will be making his 8th start of the year and in his 7 previous starts he has worked 42 innings holding the opposition to a .176 average against while striking out 43 and walking 23.
The Rays will be facing right handed pitcher John Lackey (1-3, 2.82 ERA) who is making his 5th start of the season and 4th start since coming off the disabled list (strained bicep) on April 28th. After a miserable season in 2011 and missing all of 2012 after TJ surgery Lackey has regained the ability to strike hitters out fanning 24 in just 22.1 innings of work while walking only 7.
Welcome back: Desmond Jennings returns to the Rays lineup after missing the weekend series against the Padres with a mild groin strain.
Of note: Lackey has received a decision in 18 straight outings against the Rays – the longest of any SP against the Rays in franchise history.
Other Rays to Start 6-0:
After 13 starts (97.2 innings pitched) in 2007 James Shields was 6-0 with a 3.04 ERA and had held the opposition to a .211 average against while striking out 83 and walking 18. He lost his 14th start giving up 5R/ER in 6 innings in a 12-2 loss on the road to the Colorado Rockies.
After 12 starts (80 innings pitched) in 2010 Jeff Niemann was 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA and had held the opposition to a .207 average against striking out 51 and walking 22. He lost his 13th start giving up 5R/ER in 6 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins at Tropicana Field.
J.P. Howell earned his 6-0 record out of the bullpen in 2008. He earned his 6th win after his 24th appearance (June 24th) and lost his only contest on the season in the second game of a doubleheader on September 13th. He finished the 2008 season with a record of 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA.