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Red Sox Vs. Rays Lineups: Sox Look For Insurance Behind Jon Lester

The Red Sox will exit their series against the Rays with at least a two-game lead thanks to their win against James Shields Friday night. Now, with Jon Lester on the mound, they'll look for an insurance victory which could all-but-ensure a playoff trip for Boston.

The situation is simple: with a win Saturday, the Sox will be up five games in the wild card, down at most three in the division. And while there's not much chance that Tim Wakefield will end up overcoming David Price on Sunday, the sheer number of games the Yankees and Rays have left against one another will make it all-but-impossible for the Rays to overcome what would be a 4-game deficit without helping the Red Sox into the division lead.

If they don't take today's game, however, the Sox would be up by just two, and if they continue to play the way they have of late, then 10 games could be more than enough to get the job done.

Kevin Youkilis will once again be out of the lineup for this crucial game, but Mike Aviles proved up to the task of replacing his bat in the lineup on Friday.

Boston Red Sox (87-63)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Josh Reddick, RF
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  7. Carl Crawford, LF
  8. Mike Aviles, 3B
  9. Marco Scutaro, SS
Tampa Bay Rays (83-67)
  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. Brandon Guyer, RF
  9. Jose Lobaton, C

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (15-7, 3.07 ERA) vs. Jeff Niemann (10-7, 3.97 ERA)

This matchup doesn't look very scary for the Red Sox on the surface, but anyone with a good memory will recall the domination Jeff Niemann has had against the Sox so far this year. In 17 innings of work, the Sox have just two earned runs off of Niemann on five hits. And while usually Lester would be the perfect man to call on in opposition, the Sox received only four short innings of four-run ball the last time he had to face the Rays. A similar outing would be disastrous this time.