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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Red Sox-Rays Series Preview: Boston Looks to Close Gap

BOSTON, MA - MAY 20:  Jon Lester #31 of the Bo...
BOSTON, MA - MAY 20: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. on May 20, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have not played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
On Friday the Boston Red Sox (22-22) and Tampa Bay Rays (27-18) open a three game series at Fenway Park, with the last place Sox looking to close the gap in the AL East.

Having won 10 of its last 13, the Red Sox have plenty of momentum going into the weekend series but the Rays have proven a tough team to beat the last several years as they've gone from bottom of the barrel to top of the food chain.

In Game 1 the Sox will send staff ace Jon Lester (3-3 3.95 ERA) to the hill opposing Alex Cobb (1-0 2.57 ERA) in just his second start of the season, first in his career against the Red Sox. The only player currently with the team that's faced the 24 year old is Mike Aviles (0-3).

In Game 2 it'll be Josh Beckett facing Rays lefty David Price, who the Red Sox know all too well.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis have had success against the southpaw with Youk hitting him at .364 (8-22) and Pedey .300 (6-20). For the Rays, Carlos Pena has owned Jon Lester, with 5 HR in 43 career at-bats against him and BJ Upton has 3 HR in 55 at-bats but just a .218 BA.

Game 3 will feature two pitchers on the end of the spectrum thus far when Clay Buchholz (4-2 7.84 ERA) takes on Jeremy Hellickson (4-1 2.73 ERA).

The Rays beat the Sox on May 16, snapping a 5 game winning streak behind a strong 6 IP, 1 ER performance from their 25 year old righty.

With the Red Sox getting a much needed day off Thursday, they look to come back home rested and ready to gain some ground in the cluttered AL East.
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