Both games are 7:10 PM starts.
Tuesday, June 29: James Shields (3.50 xFIP) vs. John Lackey (4.96 xFIP)
Wednesday, June 30: Matt Garza (4.35 xFIP) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (5.13 xFIP)
Since I've been out of touch with the baseball world for over a week, this is going to be a short preview. I'm still catching up on all my Rays-related news (and geez, what a crappy week it's been), but it's obvious to even the most casual fan that this is an important series. The Rays are reeling; the Red Sox are surging. Blame the Rays' slide on whatever you want - the pitching, the offense, unfortunate hitting with runners in scoring position, karma, or a bad combination of them all - but something needs to give and fast.
Momentum is a concept that draws grief from the sabermetric community because it's been shown not to exist. Hot streaks, cold streaks - from a mathematical perspective they're both the result of random variation. Flip a coin 10 times and you may get heads every single time. It's unlikely, but hey, stuff happens. Life is freaky and weird, and over the course of a baseball season, lots of weird, improbable stuff goes down.
Right now, though, I'm ready to throw that all out the window. The Rays have been struggling for a long time now and are pressing, with frustrations even spilling out into the dugout. We need some good vibes finally, however we can get them. A split in this series would be a start. A sweep of the Sox would be perfect. The Rays have the pitching advantage in both games, but I don't care how we win these games - luck, freak chance, meteorite, whatever - just as long as we win them.