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Rays and Red Sox Play for First Place in the AL Tonight


The Tampa Bay Rays‘ recent surge has them near the top of the American League standings, but there’s still one team in their way and it happens to be their division rival, the Boston Red Sox.

After winning 19 of their last 22 games – including two of three in their current series with the Bo Sox – the Rays have pulled to within a half game of the AL East lead and the best overall record in the AL. And with the East division’s two top squads pitted against one another again in game four tonight, that lead will be officially up for grabs.

David Price went the distance for the Rays, posting his third complete game of the season in the 5-1 win. He held one of the league’s best slugging squads to just five hits – including a Mike Napoli solo shot – and only had to use 97 pitches help his team draw even closer to the league’s top spot.

After the game, Price talked about how the Rays have been able to compile such an impressive streak.

“It’s just like hitting,” Price said, according to ESPN.com. “You hear it all the time — hitting is contagious. So is pitching. We’ve been on a good groove, It’s been fun. We feel like we have five guys that can go out there and win anytime. I don’t think there are many teams in the majors that can say that.”

Of course, shutting down Boston’s offensive machine two nights in a row won’t be easy. Jeremy Hellickson (9-3, 4.62 ERA) will take on the tough task tonight as he and the Rays face Boston veteran right-hander John Lackey (7-7, 2.5 ERA).

Lackey – who has been solid all season for the Sox – is coming off one of his rougher outings, one that saw him allow 10 hits and four earned runs in a 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees. He’ll look to rebound today, as the Red Sox aim to push their slim advantage back to one and a half games.

Hellickson, on the other hand, has been – like his team – on an incredible heater. He’s 5-0 in his last six starts with a 2.19 ERA, so the going on the road against a good team might not be a problem for him right now.

Normally, it would be hard to go against the Red Sox with Lackey on the hill, but the Rays are simply too hot and have too much momentum. It would be foolish to go away from them now. Take the Rays to cover +1.5 on the run line and don’t be afraid to take them to win on the money line at +115.

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