W2W4: Red Sox-Rays preview

July, 24, 2013
7/24/13
9:00
AM ET


The Red Sox face the Rays tonight (7:10 p.m., on ESPN and WatchESPN.com except in the Boston area) in what will be a battle of two hot lefties in David Price and Felix Doubront. Here are 10 things to know about tonight’s matchup:

1. Since returning from the DL on July 2, the Rays’ Price has rattled off a 3-1 record with a 1.97 ERA. He has walked just one batter in 32 innings.

2. Doubront is enjoying a solid run himself, posting a 1.83 ERA in his last six starts with wins in each of his last three starts. He is the first Red Sox pitcher to go 12 straight starts giving up three earned runs or fewer since Pedro Martinez went 16 straight ending in April 2003.

3. Doubront is 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA in nine career appearances (six starts) against the Rays. This will be his third start against Tampa Bay this season. He last faced the Rays on June 18, tossing eight scoreless innings with three hits and zero walks. Only two of his nine career appearances against the Rays have come at Fenway Park.

4. Price is 8-5 in 17 career starts against the Red Sox with a 3.27 ERA, but he’s been even better at Fenway, going 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts. He has the lowest ERA as a visitor of any active pitcher with at least five starts at Fenway Park.

5. One of the biggest changes for Price since returning from the DL has been an increased use of his changeup. In April and May, he threw the pitch only 13 percent of the time. In his last four starts, he has used it on 21 percent of pitches. Why the increase? It has been by far his most effective pitch this year, with opponents batting .180 in at-bats ending with the pitch. They’re batting .291 against all other pitches.

6. Unlike Price, Doubront is willing to throw his changeup to righties and lefties. It’s been his best swing-and-miss pitch this season (24 percent misses), and he’s recorded 72 outs with the pitch, most among his secondary pitches.

7. Despite losing Tuesday night, the Rays are still one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 21 of their last 26 games since June 23. The team has posted an MLB-best 2.26 ERA in that stretch. The Rays' 21-4 stretch before last night’s loss was their best 25-game stretch in franchise history.

8. The Rays offense started off cold, batting .204 over a 4-9 start to the season. Since then, the offense has not looked back. In July, the Rays lead the American League with a .278 batting average.

9. The Rays are 4-10 against the Red Sox this season (20-15 versus rest of the AL East) and have lost the season series for the first time since 2007.

10. Boston is 21-7 in its last 28 home games. The team hasn’t lost any of its last nine completed home series.

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