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News » Red Sox-Rays Preview 2009-05-01

Red Sox-Rays Preview 2009-05-01

Red Sox-Rays Preview 2009-05-01
The Tampa Bay Rays haven't played much like the reigning AL champions this year - except when they're faced with a championship series rematch.

Coming off a blowout victory over the Boston Red Sox, the Rays will look for a fourth straight win over their AL East rivals when the teams continue their four-game series on Friday night.

The Rays (9-14) are 3-1 against Boston this season but 6-13 against other opponents as they remain in the division cellar. After going 57-24 at home last year, they had dropped five of their last six at Tropicana Field going into Thursday's game.

But upon the Red Sox's arrival, Tampa Bay turned in a dominating effort, racking up 18 hits while allowing one in a 13-0 victory. Matt Garza took a perfect game into the seventh inning, while Evan Longoria had three hits and four RBIs to lead an onslaught against ace Josh Beckett.

The game was Boston's first in St. Petersburg since Garza beat the Red Sox in Game 7 of last year's ALCS. It looked more like Games 3 and 4 of that series, when the Rays outscored Boston by a combined 22-5 in a pair of victories at Fenway Park.

"I just thought tonight, every pitch against them - and they're really hot right now - was a little bit firmer," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Everything was really in synch for (Garza). It was fun to watch."

Next, Tampa Bay will be looking for improvement from Andy Sonnanstine, a 13-game winner last season who is still looking for his first victory in 2009.

Sonnanstine (0-3, 7.78 ERA) gave up seven runs and 10 hits in four innings in his last start, a 7-1 loss at Oakland on Sunday. Like Garza, he excelled against Boston last season, allowing two unearned runs in 13 innings in a pair of no-decisions in September.

Provided he gets as much support as Garza had, Sonnanstine won't have much pressure on him. Even little-used catcher Michel Hernandez was 4-for-5 with a home run and one of seven Tampa Bay doubles in the opener.

After his big night, Longoria is 16-for-42 (.381) with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last 10 games against the Red Sox, including postseason.

"It's a step forward, and a much-needed win," Longoria told the Rays' official Web site. "It'll be a test of this team's character to see where we're at (Friday)."

Tampa Bay will be trying for its first back-to-back wins since April 12-13, against Baltimore and the New York Yankees, respectively.

The Red Sox (14-8) had won 12 of 13 before Thursday, averaging 7.5 runs over that span. But they have now lost 10 of 11 at Tropicana Field in the regular season.

Even though J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup after brief absences, Jacoby Ellsbury's infield single in the seventh inning accounted for Boston's only hit. The Red Sox were so desperate that outfielder Jonathan Van Every pitched in the eighth.

Justin Masterson will be on the mound to try to help stabilize things, something he has already done since entering the rotation in place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Masterson (2-0, 2.70) has won both of his starts, allowing a total of two runs in 10 2-3 innings. He made two relief appearances against the Rays in Boston during the opening week of the season, throwing a scoreless inning while Tampa Bay won two of three.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 1, 2009

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