Winning the AL East and finishing with the best record in the majors are among the main goals this year for the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, meanwhile, would probably be happy just to avoid another 100-loss season.
The Red Sox look to take advantage of a relatively easy portion of their schedule Tuesday night when they continue a three-game series against the Devil Rays.
Tim Wakefield dominated Tampa Bay again, allowing four hits over seven innings as Boston opened a 10-game road trip by cruising to a 6-0 victory Monday.
“He’s tough to hit, especially when he’s on because he throws you those pitches and you don’t know where they’re going,” said the Red Sox’s Julio Lugo, a former Devil Ray. “You think they’re going to go for a ball and they go for a strike.”
Mike Lowell homered and drove in three runs for the East-leading Red Sox (75-50), who improved to 11-8 in August.
Boston has won eight of 10 from Tampa Bay this season, including three of four at Tropicana Field. After two more games against the team with the majors’ worst record, the Red Sox have a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox, who are tied with Kansas City for last in the AL Central.
With left-hander Scott Kazmir on the mound, Boston manager Terry Francona gave designated hitter David Ortiz the day off Monday. Ortiz, who has a team-high 21 homers, has struggled in his career against Kazmir and also has been bothered by an injured left shoulder for the past month.
“With David, it made more sense today,” Francona said. “We’re trying to piece it together where you don’t go too far with a player and get him a day off.”
Manny Ramirez, who replaced Ortiz as the DH, had a two-run single in the second inning, giving him 39 RBIs in 38 games since the All-Star break.
Ramirez ranks first all-time among Tampa Bay opponents with 40 home runs and 132 RBIs.
The Devil Rays (47-77) lost for the sixth time in eight games and are two games worse than they were at this point last season, when they finished 61-101.
After dominating the Devil Rays in his last start, Jon Lester (1-0, 5.14 ERA) faces them for the third time this year. The left-hander had his best outing of the season Tuesday against Tampa Bay, but left without a decision in Boston’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory. He allowed one run and two hits over a season-best seven innings, walking one and striking out four.
Lester will be starting on the road for the fifth time in six starts. He has no record and a 3.29 ERA in two career starts against the Rays.
Andy Sonnanstine (2-8, 6.17), meanwhile, looks to beat the Red Sox in back-to-back starts. The rookie right-hander took a shutout into the seventh inning and ended his personal eight-game losing streak Wednesday with a 6-5 victory at Fenway Park. He gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, winning for the first time since June 10 at Florida.
Sonnanstine has yet to win at home, though, going 0-4 with a 6.08 ERA in six starts. He lasted only 3 2-3 innings in his most recent outing there on Aug. 5, giving up seven runs and eight hits in an 11-3 loss to Baltimore.