Red Sox Vs. Rays Lineup: Sox Tab Jon Lester To Stop Losing Streak

The Red Sox are in perhaps the closest thing to a must-win situation they've had yet this year, facing down a possible sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays that could turn a seemingly locked-up wild card position suddenly vulnerable.

To avoid that nightmare scenario, the Sox will have to snap a four-game losing streak which has seen them drop games in blowouts and heartbreakers alike. If there's one man who can come through for them, it will be the one who last won for the Sox: Jon Lester.

It won't matter how well Lester pitches, of course, if the Sox' lineup can't score any runs. The good news is that this hasn't really been the biggest problem of late.

Boston Red Sox (85-60)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Josh Reddick, RF
  6. Carl Crawford, LF
  7. Jason Varitek, C
  8. Marco Scutaro, SS
  9. Mike Aviles, 3B

The Rays won't have the most threatening looking lineup of the series-to-date given the lefty on the mound.

Tampa Bay Rays (80-64)

  1. Desmond Jennings, LF
  2. B.J. Upton, CF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Johnny Damon, DH
  6. Sean Rodriguez, SS
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. Jose Lobaton, C
  9. Brandon Guyer, RF

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93 ERA) vs. James Shields (14-10, 2.77 ERA)

If there was going to be a game for the fate of potentially two separate seasons, this is a pretty appropriate pitching matchup. Ace vs. ace, with each man in top form. Jon Lester has gone five straight starts allowing at most one earned run--a streak which started against the Rays--and is fresh off an 11-strikeout domination of the Toronto Blue Jays that earned the Sox their last victory.

Shields, on the other hand, has only thrown 26 innings of two-run ball in his last three outings. Mixed in with his dominant starts over the last couple of months, however, are a few disaster starts. He seems to be good for one or two a month--sort of a higher peaks, but more frequent depths situation compared to Lester. He could just be due for another one. 

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