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Game Thread 09/11/07; DEVIL RAYS at Boston

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RAYS at Boston
7:05; RAYS TV
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM

PITCHING MATCHUP:

IP ERA K/9 BB/9 K/BB H/9 OPS HR/9 WHIP G/F P/IP
RAYS RH Andy Sonnanstine 110.0 5.73 6.63 1.64 4.05 10.06 .781 1.15 1.30 0.85 15.80
BOS RH Tim Wakefield 168.0 4.39 5.25 3.16 1.66 8.63 .722 0.86 1.31 0.90 15.21

RH Andy Sonnanstine, DEVIL RAYS:

Overview-Andy Sonnanstine makes the start for the Rays this evening and looks to continue the recent positive trend exhibited in his last three starts. After bottoming out in a five inning, seven run outing on August 21st against these very same Boston Red Sox, Sonnanstine has rebounded to post the best three game stretch of his season. Over the last three starts, Sonnanstine has given up just four runs in 19 innings of work against Oakland as well as division rivals New York and Boston. Sonnanstine has, not surprisingly, struggled with his penchant for being hittable in his rookie season. This issue is compounded when Sonnanstine loses the unique edge that is his control. He simply cannot afford to walk even a couple batters a game, as he relies on his control for a major advantage. His track record against Boston is mixed. Though he did get bombed in the previously referenced start at home against Boston that was immediately preceded by another start against the Red Sox-this one in Fenway Park-in which he gave up just three runs over 6.2 innings of work. Which Sonnanstine will we see this evening?

Recent Starts-As previously mentioned, Sonnanstine has improved vastly in his last three starts, during which he has posted an ERA of 1.89 while racking up three wins. Against division rival Baltimore last time out, Sonnanstine surrendered two runs over six innings of work. Though he gave up nine hits, he also walked none and struck out six. The crowning accomplishment of his recent stretch was an eight inning, two hit shutout effort in Yankee Stadium against New York. He struck out five and walked none in proving that he could pitch successfully in Yankee Stadium, on top of his previous successful effort in Fenway Park.

vs BOS-Andy Sonnanstine has started twice against Boston this season, with mixed results. Starting against the Red Sox in back to back outings last month, he gave up three runs on four hits despite walking two in 6.2 innings over his first start against the Red Sox on August 15th in Fenway Park. So he has a track record of success against the Red Sox in Boston, although this was immediately followed up by an exceptionally poor outing in Tropicana Field during which Sonnanstine surrendered seven runs on eight hits over five innings. Though he doesn't have nearly enough of a track record against Boston to go off of, he has had some success against Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew while David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek have each been successful against him in either five or six at bats.

RH Tim Wakefield, Boston:

Overview-Notorious Ray-killer Tim Wakefield takes to the hill for Boston as the Red Sox attempt to avoid the gap closing between them and New York for first place in the division. The Red Sox veteran, winding down his 13th season in uniform with the club, was an 8th round draft pick of Pittsburgh in the 1988 draft. The knuckleballer has been a staple on the Red Sox staff for years, never producing spectacular results but he always ends up evening having been a key contributor at the end of the year. Though often prone to inconsistencies from one start to the next due to his reliance on the knuckler for success, one thing has remained consistent over his career. That constant is his success against Tampa Bay, whom he has pitched against in every season dating back to their inaugural year.

Recent Starts-Wakefield had a run of tremendous starts in mid to late August, three to be exact, but struggled mightily last time out against Baltimore. Wakefield failed to get out of the fourth inning and was bombed for six runs on nine hits in just 3.2 innings of work. Previous to this, Wakefield had not given up a run over three starts, including two against the Rays and one against Chicago. He pitched tremendously in those key stretch games over 22 innings of work, and lowered his ERA over .60 points in the process.

vs DEVIL RAYS-Wakefield has had more success in the last 10 seasons against the Devil Rays than he has against any other team in his career when throwing 41 innings of work or more against that team. He has a career 2.72 ERA against the Rays, though thankfully for this particular outing he is vastly more successful in Tropicana Field. Thanks to his two shutouts against the Rays this year, Wakefield has had even more success than usual against the ballclub this year. He has a 1.65 ERA against the Rays in four starts this season, and will be looking for his 20th career win against the team this evening. However this track record of success doesn't mean that a few individual Rays haven't been able to carve out success against him. Carl Crawford, with by far the most experience of any Ray against Wakefield, has a .315.333/.479 line in 73 ABs. Rocco Baldelli has the second most experience against Wakefield, in almost 1/3 of the AB total of Crawford. He won't be around this evening to help, so the task falls to the few other Rays with success against Wakefield historically to pick up the slack. This includes Jonny Gomes (22 ABs-.227/.393/.409) and Akinori Iwamura (10 ABs-.300/.462/.400), but it does not include, among others, Carlos Peña, B.J. Upton, Brendan Harris, Delmon Young (0 for 12), and Greg Norton.

STARTING LINEUPS:

DEVIL RAYS
3B Akinori Iwamura
LF Carl Crawford
1B Carlos Peña
CF B.J. Upton
RF Delmon Young
2B Brendan Harris
DH Jonny Gomes
C Dioner Navarro
SS Josh Wilson
Boston
LF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
3B Mike Lowell
RF J.D. Drew
1B Kevin Youkilis
CF Coco Crisp
SS Julio Lugo
C Kevin Cash

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!