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Rays The big three-game series between the Rays and Red Sox starts tonight at Tropicana Field. Actually, it's only a half-a-big series. It's a big series for the Red Sox, not so much for the Rays. Tampa Bay has an 8 1/2 game lead over Boston in the AL East. A three-game sweeps of the Red Sox would put the Sox 11 1/2 games behind the Rays. There would be too much time left to officially declare the Red Sox as toast, but they would definitely be in trouble.

The Red Sox come in playing, probably, their best ball of the season. They've gone 5-2 in their past seven while playing three pretty good teams -- the Yankees, Twins and Phillies. In fact, if closer Jonathan Papelbon could've close out a two-run lead in the ninth against the Yankees last week, the Red Sox would have gone 6-1 in that stretch. But now they are playing the best team in baseball. Here's how Boston Globe baseball columnist Tony Massarotti sees it:

Redsox Beginning tonight, the Sox' recent surge truly will be put to the test, and not solely because they are facing a Tampa team that currently possesses the best record in baseball (32-12). Dating back to September 2007, the Sox are a dreadful 4-15 at Tropicana Field, where all of the Rays'strengths and advantages are magnified. Tampa is younger, faster, hungrier and stronger than these Sox, and it is now up to the Red Sox to prove that the team's first meeting of the season --a four-game series at Fenway Park swept by the Rays --was as lopsided as it was because the Sox merely ran into the wrong team at the wrong time.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 8, 2010 4:17pm]

    

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