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For starters, Rays at Red Sox, with a lot on the line



UPDATE, 6:11: Maddon said the Rays are up for the challenge: "They're ready to roll. We're happy to be up here. It's head to head. And we know how significant these games are. I've often said, and I really believe it, this should bring out the best in all of us.  So I'm really eager to see our guys and how we handle this moment. And I feel good about Helly today.'' ... Fuld is available to pinch-run and play defense, but likely won't be cleared to swing, which means if the Rays need a lefty pinch-hitter it's likely to be Dan Johnson, who has done it once or twice before. ... There is nothing new with RHP Kyle Farnsworth tender elbow, and the lack of progress pretty much means he won't be back until the New York series at the earliest. ... Though the skies look threatening now, Maddon said words from the ground crew was that the forecast had improved and the chances of playing without interruption had increased. ... LHP Matt Moore, who made his big-league debut last night, is't available tonight and Maddon said he didn't know yet about Friday. LHP Alex Torres is available tonight.

UPDATE, 3:38: Desmond Jennings is back in the lineup and Reid Brignac will be at shortstop again for the Rays tonight.

The lineup:
Jennings lf,
Upton cf,
Longoria 3b,
Zobrist 2b,
Damon dh,
Joyce rf,
Kotchman 1b,
Jaso c,
Brignac ss,
Hellickson p

UPDATE, 3:20: The Red Sox have both 1B David Ortiz (who had back spasms) and 1B Adrian Gonzalez (who had calf tightness) back in their lineup.  Also, the Sox have put out a release saying rain is coming, that the expect the game to be played but that there may be delays.

Boston lineup:
Ellsbury CF,
Pedroia 2B,
Gonzalez 1B,
Ortiz DH,
Youkilis 3B,
Reddick RF,
Crawford LF,
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS,
 Weiland RHP

:  The Rays are prepping to face the Red Sox tonight in the opener of the four-game series that is crucial to their hopes to get back to the playoffs.

The Rays trail the Sox by four games in the wild-card race with 14 games to play, and acknowledge they need to win at least 3 of the four games to still have a chance. They also may have to beat the rain, as heavy showers are forecast for this afternoon and again later tonight.

Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound tonight, seeking his 13th win and to improve on his MLB rookie best 2.96 ERA. He iss also seeking to become just the 3rd rookie in the last 35 years to beat the Sox twice at Fenway in the same season, joining Baltimore's Rodrigo Lopez (2002) and Oakland's Brett Anderson (2009).

Rookie Kyle Weiland, whom the Rays handled well last weekend, will be on the mound for the Sox.

The Rays may be without reserve OF Sam Fuld, who strained a tendon in his right wrist on Wednesday. Fuld has been their most successful pinch-hitter.



[Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:15am]


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