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For starters, Rays at Red Sox, with no Crawford



UPDATE, 12:53: Maddon acknowledged the importance of today's game, admitting that the difference of leaving here down four games as opposed to two is dramatic - for both the Rays and the Red Sox. "At this time of the season we do need to go three out of four right now, there's no question,'' Maddon said. "To leave here being down by two as opposed to being down by four is dramatic. We definitely have a much more legitimate chance to get to the playoffs if we're able to win this game today. I'm not saying that it's over if it doesn't happen, I won't say that. But mentally I think it puts us in a better frame of mind and mentally it can be very difficult for the Red Sox. It's a nice little swing game we've got going on today.''  ... Maddon said Kelly Shoppach will get more time behind the plate given the recent poor defensive play by John Jaso and the overall lack of production from Jaso and Jose Lobaton. ... RHP Farnsworth played catch on the field, for the first time since pitching last Saturday, throwing 40 times from a distance of 60 feet, and saying "everything went well.'' There is no official timetable, but Farnsworth's hope is to throw off the mound Tuesday in New York and possibly be available to pitch by Thursday. ... Maddon said LHP Matt Moore obviously won't be available today, after throwing 60 pitches on Saturday, but might be on Tuesday. ... Sox manager Terry Francona said Crawford was out for the reasons you would expect - Price is tough on lefties, and the Sox have a doubleheader on Monday and Crawford may play both.

DEVELOPING: The Rays are prepping for another major test, as the seek to beat the Red Sox for a third time in the four-game series and draw to within two games of the wild-card lead.

The Rays are confident because they have David Price on the mound, and as a result the Red Sox won't have Carl Crawford in the lineup, presumably given his 0-for-9 against Price. The Sox are starting knucklerballer Tim Wakefield, who has been struggling overall and is only 2-5 in his last 9 starts vs. the Rays.

The Rays have turned to Kelly Shoppach behind the plate, which seems a direct result of John Jaso's poor play since Shoppach is 0-for-7 against Wakefield. Sean Rodriguez, who left Saturday's game when his back tightened up, is back in the lineup.

Rays lineup:
Jennings lf
Upton cf
Longoria 3b
Kotchman 1b
Damon dh
Zobrist 2b
Joyce rf
Rodriguez ss
Shoppach c
Price p

Conor Jackson, who is starting ahead of Crawford in leftfield, is 2-for-3 against Price.

And the Red Sox lineup:
Ellsbury cf
Aviles 3b
Gonzalez 1b
Pedroia 2b
Ortiz DH
Jackson lf
McDonald rf
Saltalamacchia c
Scutaro ss
Wakefield P

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 12:15am]


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