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Game Preview (8/31) vs. Boston

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Rays (55-78) vs. Boston (76-54)
7:05; Fenway Park
FSN Florida

Hey Devil Rays fans, Patrick Kennedy here. Well, the curse of my prediction rings true once again, through the form of bad umpiring. Yes, last night's game was horribly officiated, but the thing that got Ed Monaghue on my enemies list with Laz Diaz and Dana DeMuth was when he went over and provoked Bench Coach John  McClaren into an argument inwhich he was tossed. That crossed the line.

But in the ninth, it was all Baez who just could not keep that lead like so many times before this season, albeit clumped together in the first two months.

But all the Rays can do is bring Bob Knight's favorite expresssion "The Game Face" to the Pahk tomorrow, and if Casey Fossum's not on, better be prayin for rain.

Before I do my preview though, I would like to address that very issue. As  with the 1:40 raindelay in the first game, as the remenants of Katrina move up the jet stream to the northeast, the possibility for rain is very high, and there is a possbility that this couldget delayed, and possibly called, then played the next day in  a Day/Night DH should the kies permit then.  As the radio guys were sayin, Boston  has a very tight schedule, and is in a playoff race, so that means they will wait out mother nature as much as they can and try to get this thing off. What does that mean? Well, it means we could be playin some 2am baseball, even the night before the Rays head up to Toronto.

PITCHING MATHCUP:
Rays-LH Casey "Mac" Fossum (8-10, 4.76)
BOS-RH Tim Wakefield (13-10, 4.35)

BREAKDOWN: The Sawx  get two leftys on two days and the Raysget their knuckleballing nemisis.

Mac comes into this start against his former team on heavy struggles. After getting his ERA downas low as 3.83 after a win against the Royals on July 29th, andonly  six points higher after his next start inTexas,  Mac has absolutely collapsed. Since the KC start, his ERA has risen 93 points to 4.76, and his combined ERA for the month of August is 8.53. In his last three starts, Mac has pitched 16 innings, giving up 14 runs (12 earned), four homers, and 10 walks. That is horrible by the leanest of standards. And this came after Mac had pitched so well. Take his last start, Friday against Anaheim, for instance. He had no control, and he couldn't keep the ball down if he were facing a G-Force of 12.  Yet he still, somehow, picked up the win in that mess. His most interesting aspect his the "Fossum Flip", a curveball being used as a changeup. Everyone  wants to know who  will  get it, and easily can tell when it was thrown by looking at a radar gun and seeing '45'. He did aDugout interview with Dave Wills, and Mac said he throws it when no one is on base, and throws it rarely. Throw it too much, and someone may put a dent in the Citgo sign. So how have Mac's old teammatesdoneagainst himthis year? Well, their two best hitters (not surprisingly) have done the best. Manny Ramirez is 2-3 with a  home run, and David Ortiz is 2-5 with a double and an RBI.

Taking the mound for Boston is a very old Rays enemy, Tim Wakefield. Any Rays fan  cringes when they see Wakefield in the upcoming probables against the Rays, and they should be. Wakefield is 12-1 career vs. the Rays, including 2-0 with a 1.40 ERAthis year. Wakefield has struggled in Augusthowever, posting a 5.40 ERA.  While he has been rather consistently off this month, Wakefield's main hiccup was  when he gave up 6 runs vs. Anaheim on August 18th. His last start vs. the Rays came last July 27th, when he went 7.1 IP, giving up six hits and an unearned run. Because of his heavyuse of the knuckler, he does  have a high amount of walks, and does hit a lot of batters, but then again, hitters don't normally get good contact off the pitch. And for the last few years, he has had Doug Mirabelli exclusively catch him, which might be good for the Sox defense and make him feel  comfartbale, but on the other hand, Mac doesn't have to face Jason Varitek. SeveralRays have  strung together hits against Wakefield, Jorge Cantu is 2 for 6, Carl Crawford is 4 for 10, Travis Lee is 4 for 8, and Julio Lugo is 3 for 9 this year.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In terms of lineups, the Sox have announced Hernando High alum Bronson Arroyo, a righty, as their starter tomorrow. So that means Toby is going to sit either today or tomorrow. To me, it looks like a tossup. His performance vs. both pitchersdoesn't jump out at you, so that is out as a factor. He is a must-start Friday vs. lefty Scott Downs in Toronto. My guess is that Toby catches for a fourth straight day today, then gets the day off tomorrow in the rubber game, simply to avoid having to go on that flight all weary from having just completed a game. But again, this is a tossup, and if rain gets involved, it gets even more complicated.
Anyways, expect an infield of (in no particular order) Lee-Cantu-Lugo-Gonzalez, and an outfield/DH of Crawford-Gathright-Huff-Gomes, same as yesterday.

So what does all tht Pitching Breakdown stuff mean? Well,it is simple. Slumping Starter+Raykiller=Biiiiiiig Loss. Fossum made indeed break out of his slump today, and more power to him, but even if he does, 12-1 is 12-1. Think about it, for every 13 times Wakefield starts against the Rays, he loses only once. And it isn't quite time for that 1/13 loss to cycle through yet. We'd better pray for rain.

PREDICTION: Boston 11, Rays 3