at Red Sox
What's new: Since the teams last played, in early July, the Sox have traded LF Manny Ramirez (and are 23-10 since), added OFs Jason Bay (whom the Rays wanted) and Mark Kotsay, and weathered injuries to 3B Mike Lowell, DH David Ortiz, RHP Josh Beckett and 1B Sean Casey, plus SS Julio Lugo and RF J.D. Drew (who are still out). In the interim, pint-sized 2B Dustin Pedroia has stepped up and emerged as a potential AL MVP candidate. The Sox are healthy and have their top pitchers lined up for this series, though middle relief is still a concern. Also, they are really good at home, with a 48-19 record and major-league-best .300 team average, averaging 5.97 runs. Tonight they'll break Cleveland's major-league record with their 456th consecutive sellout.
Key stat: The Rays have played 29 series in Fenway Park and have won two, both in 1999. Since, they are 0-21-4.
Connections: Rays Chad Bradford, Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske are former Red Sox, and senior adviser Don Zimmer is a former Sox manager; Boston C Kevin Cash and hitting coach Dave Magadan are Tampa products, and Lugo is an ex-Ray.
Series history: Tied 6-6 this season, with the home team winning each game. Overall, the Sox lead 117-64, 67-23 at Fenway.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer