The Red Sox will have a chance to play spoiler once again as the Tampa Bay Rays come to town for a short two-game set in Fenway.
While it may have seemed as though Boston did enough in splitting their last series with the Rays, Tampa Bay has gone on a quick winning streak, taking advantage of the struggling Athletics to surge back into the wild card picture. Now they'll have the chance to do the job once again. Even just one win here could be fatal to Tampa's hopes if the Athletics do their job against the Rangers.
The good news is that the Sox will have their two best on the mound.
Boston Red Sox (69-85) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (83-70)
Tuesday, September 25, 7:10 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (11-6, 4.16 ERA) vs. David Price (18-5, 2.58)
Buchholz' ERA is delightfully low (compared to the rest of the season) after 14 excellent innings of work, seven of which came against none other than the Rays. It ended up being a loss thanks to a tremendous collapse by the bullpen, but that just goes to show it wasn't just a bad day for the Rays. With two more good performances, Buchholz could even push his ERA down under 4.00, which would be a tremendous way to end a season that started so poorly.
Of course, no matter how well Buchholz does, there's no guarantee the game as a whole will be a success. David Price gave up three to the Red Sox last time 'round, but that's only the third time in his last ten games he's given up so much. The Sox will be lucky to see so much off of him again, especially if he's got revenge on his mind.
Wednesday, September 26, 7:10 p.m. EST
Jon Lester (9-13, 4.96 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (9-9, 4.27 ERA)
Lester, on the other hand, isn't going to touch 4.00, and his last start--his first ever loss against the Orioles--did little to improve morale. Still, he's not really been a disaster of late. The question is whether he can tip things one way or the other in these last couple of outings. 2012 will, at best, be a lost season, but it can at least have a happy ending.
Alex Cobb will also be looking to end the year on a good note, and like Lester it can go either way for him. He's been bouncing around the same area for awhile now, and has almost plateaued in this last month. The Sox did a good job against him in his last outing, and if this is a young arm tiring late in the year, they'll have a good opportunity to do more on Wednesday.