The Red Sox will take on the Rays in a series that has suddenly become unsettlingly important for both teams.
With 6.5 games separating the two teams and under 20 games left to be played, Boston's Wild Card lead would seem secure were it not for the way the Sox have been playing of late. At 3-7 over their last 10 games, the Sox are experiencing the sort of slump that they haven't since the 2-10 start at the beginning of the year. In fact, it's remarkably close to the 2-7 start the Sox endured before Tampa Bay came to Fenway and sent them to 2-9.
If history were to repeat itself here, it could be a real disaster for the Red Sox. A 3.5 game lead would be a dramatic falloff from even just late August. A series win, on the other hand, would essentially be the nail in Tampa Bay's coffin. It would be the first series win since they went on the road to Kansas City and Texas, however, so it's not going to be any easy feat with the way they're playing now.
Boston Red Sox (85-58) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64)
Friday, September 9, 7:10 p.m.
John Lackey (12-11, 6.11 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (9-8, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday, September 10, 7:10 p.m.
Kyle Weiland (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 2.90 ERA)
Sunday, September 11, 1:40 p.m.
Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93 ERA) vs. James Shields (14-10, 2.77 ERA)