The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays close out an American League East series Sunday night in front of a nationally-televised audience at Tropicana Field

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

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The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees open up a four-game series Thursday night at Yankee Stadium

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter stands at 2,997 career hits entering tonight's game versus Tampa Bay

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The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays are set to play the second game of their weekend series Saturday at Tropicana Field

St. Louis Cardinals at Tampa Bay Rays

The St. Louis Cardinals have won four straight games

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The Rays look to keep pace with the Yankees in playing the second game of this three-game set at Tropicana Field.

Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto fell 6-2 in the series opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field, with a costly error by second baseman Aaron Hill proving too difficult to fight back from.  “I’m not going to fault my guys for playing hard,” Monday night’s starter Brett Cecil said.  “I’ve got to take it upon myself.”  The Blue Jays had won four straight against the Rays in the season series, but now trail 7-6 with last night’s loss.  Offensively, the team has been led by outfielder Jose Bautista, recently named AL Player of the Week for August 23-29.  Over those seven days, he hit .500 with eight extra-base hits and four home runs.  Bautista currently leads the majors with 42 home runs.  The club owns a 33-36 mark away from the Rogers Centre this season, including a 12-11 record on the road.  Toronto is a disappointing 7-13 as a road underdog of +125 to +150 this season (-360) and the total is 10-9 O/U in those contests.

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The Rays are looking to sweep the Angels in Anaheim for the first time in franchise history, as they welcome back a key member of their starting rotation.

Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels

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Both teams may be emotionally drained after playing a crazy game in South Florida last night.

Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay outlasted the Florida Marlins on Saturday night, grabbing a 9-8 victory, in a game that last four hours and 36 minutes.  “Man that was a crazy games,” Rays pitcher James Shields said.  The Rays drew a franchise-record 12 walks, with 11 coming after Marlins starter Chris Volstad left the game.  It was a huge victory for a club that had lost six of its previous eight games and is still tied with the Yankees for the division lead.  Tampa Bay will look to even up its interleague record with the series finale (5-6), as they’ve posted a 15-11 record in NL parks since 2008.  Manager Joe Maddon had to be confident in throwing Jeff Niemann and David Price in the final two games of this series, as the two have combined to go 34-10 in 68 starts since June 1, 2009.

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The pressure of holding the AL East lead may be getting to the young Rays, as they look to bounce back from a loss on Friday night.

Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay is 23-11 on the road, but have lost five of their last seven and must win the final two games of this series to avoid their first losing road trip of the season.  The Rays are also just 4-6 in interleague play this year and have lost four of their last five.  Part of their recent struggles has been the leadoff spot, as players that have been placed at the top of the lineup card have combined for just a .244 batting average and .339 on-base percentage.  “I’m just looking for the right slot,” said manager Joe Maddon.  “It’d be nice to really feel good about No. 1.”  Tampa Bay went 10-2 against Florida the past two seasons, but are currently just 1-3 against them this season.  During Maddon’s tenure, the Rays are 17-11 against the Marlins overall.

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