The Red Sox are on a roll, winners of five straight behind all-around impressive performances in the field, on the mound, and at the plate against the Indians and Mariners. Now they'll head to Tampa Bay, hoping to stay hot as they take on the division rival Rays.
Though they are locked in a tie with the Orioles atop the division, the Rays have been struggling a bit of late, dropping six of their last ten games before a short sweep of Toronto righted the ship. They've been doing things their usual way, keeping runs off the board with pitching and defense.
Now the Sox will try to score some runs off of them like they did a month ago, when they put together 31 runs in four games against Tampa in April, taking three much-needed wins off the Rays.
Boston Red Sox (17-19) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (23-14)
Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (4-1, 8.31 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.95 ERA)
When last they met, the Sox did a number on Jeremy Hellickson, showing him why it is that low-strikeout, high-walk pitchers don't often thrive in the MLB. Still, Hellickson has been seeing the same success as he did last year despite once again having peripherals that suggest much worse. Perhaps staying out of Fenway is all that Hellickson needs. Or maybe it's more about staying away from strong offensive teams like the Sox.
Clay Buchholz finally had his first decent start of the season in his last outing, though it still involved a late-inning fade, three earned runs, and bad peripherals. While it's definitely a sight better than all of his other starts, it's questionable whether or not this is the sort of start he can take as a positive sign and build on. If Clay can't keep runs off tonight, then it's right back to the drawing board for him.
Thursday, May 17, 7:10 p.m. EST
Felix Doubront (3-1, 4.46 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (1-3, 5.31 ERA)
Felix Doubront turned in arguably his most impressive start of the season last time out, throwing six innings of one-run ball, striking out five and walking two. The southpaw starter is still struggling to go deep into games, but has some of the best peripherals on the team and was doing well in his first start against the Rays until the defense failed him in the fifth.
Matt Moore has had difficulty converting his preseason hype into regular season success. Despite getting ahead in plenty of at bats and finding the zone with some regularity, Moore has struggled to avoid the walk, surrendering five per nine innings so far this year. Combine that with a terribly high fly ball rate, and opposing teams aren't having too much trouble scoring off of young Moore.