Boston Red Sox need to sweep Rays ahead of weekend Yankees series

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 06: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 06: Andrew Benintendi /

The Boston Red Sox are sitting pretty in first place in the AL East, but with a weekend series against the Yankees looming, they should handle the Rays quickly.

The Boston Red Sox have a six-game winning streak going. They’ll look to extend it to eight with a quick two-game series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, they’ll play a weekend series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees.

While Boston is in a good position, they shouldn’t get too comfortable. While the Sox take on the Rays, the Yankees will be playing the Toronto Bluejays in a three-game series. New York should easily be able to take 2 out of 3 or a sweep from Toronto, the cellar dweller in the AL East. The Bluejays have just a 4% chance to make the postseason.

Boston will have a more difficult challenge with Tampa Bay. The Rays are still just 5.5 games behind Boston and are definitely in the AL Wild Card race (a 34% chance to make the postseason). Chris Sale will start Tuesday’s game and Rick Porcello will get the Wednesday start. That means the Yankees won’t have to deal with Sale this weekend at all.

Chris Sale should be able to earn a W for the Sox with his dominance and strikeouts, so the pressure will fall to Pretty Ricky to keep the winning streak alive. Porcello’s numbers aren’t great this year but he’s also had to deal with poor Red Sox offense in his starts.

Without Sale, the Red Sox will turn to Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, and either Doug Fister or David Price in the New York series. For now, it looks like it will be Fister since Price still hasn’t thrown with elbow soreness.

Luckily for the Red Sox, they won’t have to face Sonny Gray in New York this time around though. Here’s what the matchups are looking like right now:

  • 8/11: Eduardo Rodriguez v. Jaime Garcia
  • 8/12: Drew Pomeranz v. Luis Severino
  • 8/13: Doug Fister v. C.C. Sabathia

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The Red Sox should have a slight edge in the first two games before they face Sabathia on Sunday. If they can take those two, they’ll be in great shape in the middle of August. A sweep of the Rays and two wins in New York would have the Red Sox 4.5 games ahead of New York if the Yankees sweep Toronto. At best they can grab a 5.5 game lead, and the worst they can fall is 2.5 games behind New York.

Last week, I wrote that the Yankees would win the AL East over the Boston Red Sox, but I have to eat my own words. Eduardo Nunez has been a surprise and others are stepping up at the plate as well. Christian Vazquez and Chris Young both got in on the hot hitting action, as did Jackie Bradley Jr. Rafael Devers has adjusted well to the MLB game also. If the offense can continue to ride this wave they’ll surely be a tough team to beat for the rest of the season.

Next: Chris Young powers Sox to 6th straight win

Boston should also be getting Dustin Pedroia back in the lineup on Tuesday. If he feels good, that could be dangerous for opposing pitchers.

Right now, although I’m jumping ahead, the Boston Red Sox should focus on sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays. This short series can go a long way towards the AL East’s final standings.