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Game Preview (8/29) at Boston

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A little long today because I chronicle the road trip, but nevertheless, here is the return of the crowd-pleasing Game Preview:

RAYS (55-76) at Boston (74-54)
7:05; Fenway Park
FSN Florida

Hey Devil Rays fans, Patrick Kennedy here! All good things mustcome to an end, and that includes 13 game homestands. The Bay Area bid the Rays HappyTrails yesterday,as they hit the road following their three game sweep of Anaheim/California. The Rays have won 4 of their last 5, 12 of 15, and 28 of 43 since the All-Star Break.

Hope you got out to see the Rays this past weekend, because by the next  time they return to the Trop, it will be the start of football season, providing for some tough choices for fans (not me, mind you).

Anyways, the Rays begin a tough road trip with a four game set in Massachusetts,  followed by a three game set north of the border, wrapping it up with a three game set in the Bronx. The good news  (and it doesn't involve car insurance) is that  this will be our final road visit to these three destinations this year.

The  schedule-makers have not been kind to the Rays these last few weeks. The  Rays are in the middle of a stretch in which they play 17 games in 17 games, with a flight to Boston and then to Toronto squeezed in.  And from the Ninth of August to the Fourth of September, the Rays play games on 26 of 27 days.  Howhave they fared in that stretch so  far? Well, 12-7 dating back to the ninth, but since they last had an off day, they are 7-3. Let's hope that the trend keeps up

RAYS-RH Seth McClung (5-7, 6.40)
BOS-RH Matt Clement (11-3, 4.35)

BREAKDOWN: Besides the usual disclaimer about McClung's ERA being inflated by Lou's brilliant bullpen idea, there really is not much thatI could say thatsome of you might not have seen. McClung continues to violate Florida Indoor Smoking Regulations with his amazing array of pitches resulting in smoke. Often, the  line score does not do justice as to how well Seth actually pitched, but his last start parlayed pretty accuratly into the box score. Big Red picked up his third straight win,  and only Rays win vs. Cleveland by going seven strong innings. He budgeted his pitch count well, and kept the Indians at bay. If you look at hislast two starts, you start to see howpecial this kid really is. Fourteen innings, 10 hits, four runs,  K:BB of three, less than 200 pitches total. That  my friends, is excellence by even the highest of standards. The only thing going against Seth is his 9.18 ERA on the road (again, with relief pitching involved). Batters are hitting .293 off him, and he earned a loss in his last start. But the posterboy for an anti-John Kruk argument could be Seth in his last outing, last July 27th at the Trop. Seth went six solid innings, keeping uswell within range by surrendering only two earned runs. He didn't deserve the loss. Go lick the bottom of a deep fry, Kruk.

On the  Red Sox side, former Cubby Matt Clement gets the start. By his 11-3 record, Kruk, who is still living in the 1890s era of baseball stats, would assume that he winsthe  Cy Young easily. But, he has one only once in last seven treks to the mound. That is partly because heisgetting the short end of the bargain. The Sawx haven't taken advantage of the fact that he has allowed only five earned runs in his last three starts,and thus Clement has not been able to win with as much frequency. The Rays  must not conjure up good memories for this guy though, as Carl Crawford hit his right ear with a line drive inhis last start  vs. the Rays, July 26th.

So what does this mean? Well, Toby  is almost a lock to start, and depending who the Sox announce as their starter Thursday, Pete LaForest should fill in on Wednesday (vs.  Wakefield) or if the Sawx have a  righty going Thursday. In the infield,  Alex  Gonzalez should be a lock if Lou's brain didn't disappear after turning 62 (just kidding Lou, I rattle you for 364 other days,  you deserve one off. Happy Birthday Lou, you' always make Tampa proud). Anyways, one might ask-Why start Gonzalez? Why, Clement's former teammate is 4 for 4 against him this year, that's why. Other than  him, expect a starting infield (in no particular order) of Gonzalez-Lugo-Cantu-Lee, anda starting outfield/DH of Crawford-Gathright-Gomes-Huff, though Lou'll probably cave in once again to Huff's assurances that because he's 28, he can  actually field half-decent in the outfield,  so our hopesand dreams of seeing Gomes in right will, once again, probably  go unfufilled.

PREDICTION: Rays 5, Boston 3
I'm feelin lucky. McClung's on a roll, not too long of one mind you, and Ihave ahankerin that Aubrey'll have a big day and series in  showing Boston just what they missed.