Rays versus Red Sox…………Rubber Match Preview

 

The Rays will be going for a unsuspected series win tonight in Fenway Park. Last night’s expolsive last 2 innings propelled the Rays to a 1 1/2 game advantage on the Red Sox. The win guaranteed that the Rays will be in first place not matter what the outcome of tonight’s game, when they leave Boston.

The Rays used recently called-up players Fernando Perez and Dan Johnson to get the first win in Fenway since September 2007. Not a coincidence, Scott Kazmir was the starting pitcher that nigth against the Red Sox. Here is the lowdown on both starting pitcher tonight. Rays starter,Andy Sonnanstine has not faced the Red Sox in 2008, so his batter statistics will be taken from his rookie seson, 2007, against the Red Sox.

 

                             Andy Sonnanstine is currently 13-7 for the Rays, with a 4.66 ERA. He is going for his record tying 14th win for the fourth time in 2008. He is shooting to share the record on a temporary basis with Rolando Arroyo. It is considered by many that the Rays will have at least one more pitcher hit the 14 win mark before the end of the regular season.

Over his last 50 starts, Sonnanstine has posted 19 wins, which ties him with Kazmir and Victor Xambrano for the Rays top honors. His .650 winning percentage as a pitcher is the high water mark for the Rays. This season, Sonnanstine is 4-1 against the AL East, but has pitched to a unimpressive 6.46 ERA during those starts.

Sonnanstine is averaging 1.6 walks per 9 innings, which rankes him 5th in the AL. Andy has also posted a 3.37 strikeout to walk ratio, which puts him at 9th in the AL in that category. The Rays have gone 11-6 in Sonnanstine’s last 17 starts, and since August 15, 2007, he is one of only 6 pitchers to post at least 18 victories in that span.

Sonnastine has not face Boston this year, but during his rookie season, he faced them 4 times and went 1-1, with a 8.85 ERA. He had made 2 previous starts at Fenway Park, going 1-0, with a 7.20 ERA. On August 15, 2007, Sonnastine defeated Daisuke Matsuzaka for his firsat win in Fenway Park against the Red Sox.

 

2007  Boston batters’ statitics against Sonnanstine:

 

Coco Crisp                  3-8                   3 runs,double, 2 RBI’s, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell               6-9                   5 runs, double, 1 walk

David Ortiz                3-10                  2 runs,double,triple, 1 RBI, 1 CS

Dustin Pedroia          1-10                  1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek            4-6                    2 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI’s

Kevin Youkilis          1-8                     1 run, double, 2 strikeouts

 

 

                              Josh Becket is currently 12-9, with a 4.20 ERA for the Red Sox. Josh just completed his first game back on Friday in Arlington, Texas following a 15 day DL visit for an elbow strain.  In the 8-1 win agianst the Rangers, Beckett threw 40 pitches in the first 4 innings and struck out 7 for the game. But during the next 2 innings, Beckett needed 40 additional pitches to complete the 6th inning.

 

Beckett has faced the Ray 4 times this season going  2-1, with a 2.57 ERA.  Becket has gone at least 6 innings in his last 8 starts against Tampa Bay, but might be undeer close eye by Red Sox Terry Francona because of his recent stint on the DL. In his 5  starts against the Rays since 2007, Becket has posted a 4-1 record, with a 2.72 ERA and has a 40/5 strikeout to walk ratio against the Rays.

 

After a Bullpen session last week  where Francona watched Beckett throw 58 pitches, the mangaer decided to activate the righ-hander and start him against Texas last Friday night. Becuase this is Beckett’sa second start since coming off the DL, it is projected that he will be on a 80-90 pitch count for tonight’s game.  Beckett’s velocity is still down after the DL stint, but his control is still there and should have his usual array of off-speed pitches to stay with the Rays’ batters.

 

Rays batters’ against Josh Beckett:

Akinora Iwamura              3-9               1 run, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K’s, 1 BB

Carlos Pena                       2-7               1 double, 2 strikeouts

Cliff Floyd                         1-3               1 strikeout

Dioner Navarro                 1-9               1 run, 3 strikeouts 

Eric Hinske                       4-9               1 run, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 K’s      

Gabe Gross                       1-7                1 run, 1 HR, 2 RBI’s, 2 K’s, 1 BB

Jason Bartlett                  1-7                1 run

 

Evan Longoria is the lone Ray not playing tonight who has a great line against Beckett this year. Evan has gone 4-9 against him this season, with a double, 2 runs and 2 strikeouts. Oh, and he has a home run  against Beckett

Carl Crawford and B J Upton are a combined 1-16 against Beckett in 2008, with 8 strikeouts. Crawford has the lone hit, a single against Beckett.

 

 

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