Two days and one game in the standings removed from their three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays, the Sox will "welcome" their wild card competition into Fenway Park for a four-game series that promises to have a big impact on the outcome of the race regardless of the outcome.
On the one hand, there's the possibility that the Rays could earn another sweep, completely wiping out the Red Sox' lead and effectively creating a 10-game season for both teams. On the other hand, even just a series split would greatly reduce the time left for the Rays to stage a comeback, forcing them into a must-win situation in nearly every remaining game.
Of course, should the Red Sox win the series, the season is basically over but for an onslaught from the Angels.
While the Sox aren't exactly on a roll at 1-6 over their last seven games, the split against the Blue Jays wasn't too bad, and the Sox are due for some reinforcements in the starting rotation. Enter: Josh Beckett.
Boston Red Sox (86-62) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (82-66)
Thursday, September 15, 7:10 p.m.
Kyle Weiland (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 2.96 ERA)
Friday, September 16, 7:10 p.m.
Josh Beckett (12-5, 2.49 ERA) vs. James Shields (15-10, 2.70 ERA)
Saturday, September 17, 4:10 p.m.
Jon Lester (15-7, 3.07 ERA) vs. Jeff Niemann (10-7, 3.97 ERA)
Sunday, September 18, 1:35 p.m.
Tim Wakefield (7-6, 5.13 ERA) vs. David Price (12-12, 3.34 ERA)