Rays at Red Sox, which says enough
UPDATE, 6:24: Manager Joe Maddon admitted that his final decision on starting Baldelli tonight was made based on what Baldelli did on Sunday, homering on his first swing, and - jokingly - that he is from nearby Rhode Island. Maddon said there was no appreciable difference statistically between Baldelli, Willy Aybar and Brad Hawpe against Jon Lester so he went with his gut. ... Sonnanstine will go back into his long relief role. ... Maddon didn't know yet whether Hellickson would be available to pitch tonight.
UPDATE, 6:19: Some technical difficulties here, but let's try this again with the Red Sox lineup, that is missing SS Marco Scutaro and 1B Mike Lowell:
UPDATE, 3:45: Rays lineup includes Baldelli at DH.
The full lineup:
DEVELOPING: The Rays are set to open a three-game series with the Red Sox tonight, trying to protect their lead in the AL wild-card race while following manager Joe Maddon's directive to focus on catching the Yankees to win the AL East.
While the Sox will have always-tough Jon Lester on the mound tonight, they are likely to be without closer Jonathan Papelbon, who threw 48 pitches in Sunday's loss.
The Rays will start RHP Jeff Niemann, who is making his third start since coming off the DL and still seeking his early season form.
Also, they have another arm in the bullpen as RHP Andy Sonnanstine was recalled from Class A Hudson Valley, where he was optioned to last week so the Rays could add OF Brad Hawpe to the roster.
While the Red Sox are still playing to make a run at the playoffs, the Boston media has pretty much written them off. Monday's headline in the Boston Globe was Close the book? And the Boston Herald went with GIVE IT UP.
The Rays are playing on Labor Day for the 8th time, and they are 1-7 (including a doubleheader last year at Yankee Stadium), which is the lowest winning percentage of any team. Their only successful Labor Day was a 9-7 win over the Orioles in 2007.