The Red Sox will be looking to win this afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays and take the final series before heading to the All-Star break. With two games to go until the unofficial halfway point in the MLB season, the Red Sox are only two games back of first place in the American League East. However, the Toronto Blue Jays have skyrocketed up the standings and could soon surpass the Baltimore Orioles, who have only won four games in their past ten contests.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox were given the bad news this morning that closer Craig Kimbrel had a torn meniscus that will require surgery. The timetable for his return is 3-6 weeks, which could be longer knowing the Red Sox medical staff. Submariner Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara will platoon at the closer position, according to manager John Farrell. This is just another blow to the Red Sox bullpen, which has had its fair share of casualties so far this season.
Rick Porcello will be taking the mound for the Red Sox, and should fair well against this weak hitting lineup. After a pretty rough season in 2015, Rick Porcello has been the model of consistency in an otherwise inconsistent starting rotation. On the season, Porcello is 10-2 with a 3.82 ERA, and is also unbeaten at Fenway Park, where he sports a 7-0 record in eight starts on the season. This is the pitcher that the Red Sox were hoping to get when they dealt Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers two offseasons ago and signed Porcello to a fat four-year, $82.5 million contract before he even threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform. Lifetime against the Rays, Porcello is 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be sending Matt Moore to the mound, who has recently been in trade rumors involving the Boston Red Sox. Two starts ago, the unreliable and often unhealthy lefty threw seven shutout innings against the Red Sox in a duel against Red Sox ace David Price. On Monday, Moore allowed only two runs in 6.2 innings of work against the Anaheim Angels. On the season, Moore is 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA, but his numbers do not signify just how dominant the lefty has been at times. Hopefully the Red Sox will be able to figure out Moore, as they have struggled against left handed pitching at times during the season.
The Red Sox lineup will have a few changes, as first baseman Hanley Ramirez will have the day off after fouling a ball off of his left shin. Travis Shaw will get the start at first base in replace of him, and newly acquired third baseman Aaron Hill will slide into the sixth spot in the batting order. Hill has been tearing the cover off of the baseball for the pas month and a half, and is especially difficult against left handed pitching. Look for him to have another good day.
Check out the probable lineups: