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Red Sox Vs. Rays Lineups: John Lackey Looks To Continue Winning Ways In Rubber Match

The Red Sox will aim for a series win Wednesday afternoon as they play their third game with the Rays in just over 24 hours.

The first two contests were quite similar: the offense was terrible other than a few homers, the starters were impressive, and for most of the game it was quite close. In the end, however, it was poor defense and poor relief pitching that set the nightcap loss apart from the morning win. 

Now they'll hope for a little more offense from their increasingly banged-up offense. David Ortiz has a heel issue that's likely to keep him out for about a week, Adrian Gonzalez has a neck strain that might be hurting his power and will send him to DH in the meantime, and Kevin Youkilis is just a few days away from missing a game with a sore back. And somehow through it all we still have Darnell McDonald starting in right field and batting sixth. May God help us all.

Boston Red Sox (74-46)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, DH
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  5. Jed Lowrie, 3B
  6. Darnell McDonald, RF
  7. Carl Crawford, LF
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  9. Mike Aviles, SS

The Rays aren't hurting nearly so badly, and so are capable of putting out a pretty standard bunch.

Tampa Bay Rays (65-56) 

  1. Desmond Jennings, LF
  2. Johnny Damon, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  6. B.J. Upton, CF
  7. Matt Joyce, RF
  8. Reid Brignac, SS
  9. Kelly Shoppach, C

Pitching Matchup: John Lackey (11-8, 6.13 ERA) vs. David Price (10-10, 3.76 ERA)

It looks like a mismatch over the course of the season, but recent history gives Sox fans reason to think that Boston can take this one home.

It's been seven starts, after all, since John Lackey last recorded a loss. And while that's not the most telling of statistics for pitchers, his 36:7 K:BB ratio and a 3.92 ERA (inflated thanks to a couple of unscored errors) suggest that it's far from just being fluff. His last outing against Seattle was unimpressive, to be sure, but he collected himself, kept the Sox in the game, and if those are his depths in the second half, than Sox fans will take it every time.

David Price, meanwhile, has shown that he can be scored upon. The lefty has been remarkably consistent, in fact, not only in that he's not one to give up a big game, but also in that he's not one to shut a team down for the duration of a contest. His recent outings are full of 2-to-4 run totals, and really nothing else until he--impressively enough--shut down New York on August 12. Hopefully that just ends up being a one-off.