MLB Preview 2012: Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Boston Red Sox (17-19) and Tampa Bay Rays (23-14) will open up a short two-game American League East series on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET on ESPN

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays 

Boston Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz is 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in five starts at Tropicana Field

Boston finished off its six-game homestand with five wins in a row, including a 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.  The Red Sox have managed to outscore opponents by a 34-8 margin over that span, while the club has received great work from its bullpen over the last couple weeks.  The team’s relievers entered last night’s game with a 1.41 ERA since April 23.  Boston took three of four earlier meetings this year at Fenway Park from April 13-16.

Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (4-1, 8.31 ERA) has won his last three decisions, including a 7-5 home win over the Cleveland Indians last time out, giving up four runs (three earned) and eight hits over 6.1 innings of work.  The right-hander is 1-0 with an 11.57 ERA in two road outings, as opposing hitters are batting .409 against him.  In nine career games versus the Rays, Buchholz has registered a 5-2 record and 2.38 ERA, including a 3-1 mark and 2.23 ERA in five outings at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay finished off two-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center, picking up a 4-3 win last night.  “We could have easily gone 1-7 on this road trip,” commented Rays starting pitcher David Price.  “I feel that it was a great trip due to all the injuries we’re dealing with.”  The Rays will now look to improve upon their 13-3 home record, which is the best such mark in the AL.  The pitching staff has certainly led the club with star third baseman Evan Longoria on the disabled list, entering last night’s game with a major-league-best 2.81 ERA since April 16.  Tampa Bay is 17-4 on artificial turf this season.

Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.95 ERA) hasn’t received a decision in the club dropping a pair of 4-3 decisions in his last two starts, including a 4-3 road loss to the Baltimore Orioles last time out.  The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four home starts, issuing nine walks and striking out 18 in 25.1 innings.  In six career appearances (five starts) versus the Red Sox, Hellickson has a 2-1 record and 4.99 ERA, but allowed five runs and seven hits in five frames against them on April 14.

Bettors will likely back the Red Sox due to their 7-1 record in Buchholz’s last eight starts as a road underdog of +110 to +150, while the Rays are 0-4 in their last four home games after a road trip of seven or more days.

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